Did you know...

 

...your left lung is smaller than your right lung to make room for your heart?

When Baby Comes Along

Your child depends on you for everything - love, food, clothing, and a safe home to live and play in. Newborns don't get around much, but in a matter of months, your child could be crawling. That's why it pays to thoroughly check your home for unsafe objects and places before your baby discovers them for you.

Sleep Safety

Infants spend a lot of time sleeping, so parents should pay special attention to any crib where baby slumbers, including those in the homes of baby-sitters, friends, and relatives.

New cribs should meet strict safety standards. Plan to purchase a new crib that carries a safety certification seal. Contact the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission at (800)638-2772 or visit them at www.cpsc.gov for information on recalled cribs and other products.

What about hand-me-down cribs? They're a sound financial move, but they must be safe. Measure crib slats. They should be no wider than 2 3/8" apart, otherwise your baby's body could squeeze through them and become trapped. There should be no gaps between the crib mattress and the sides of the crib. Be sure there are no corner posts over 1/16 of an inch above the end panels, so a baby cannot catch his or her clothing and strangle.

For any crib, all screws, bolts, and other hardware must be in place and tightened to ensure the crib is structurally sound. ln addition, mattress support hangers should be securely attached to the end panels and mattress support of the crib.

Always keep the rails up when your baby is in the crib. To reduce the risk of suffocation and Sudden lnfant Death Syndrome (SIDS), infants should always sleep on their backs. Remove all soft bedding from the crib, including pillows, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, stuffed animals, and other toys.

Child Safety

Be sure crib sheets fit snugly on the crib mattress. Loose sheets can entrap a baby, increasing the risk of strangulation. Locate the crib away ftom a window blind or curtain cord for the same reason.

A safe crib is the best sleeping place for baby. Avoid placing your child on a bed. It's easier than you think for an infant to become entrapped and to fall and to suffocate in soft bedding. Likewise avoid laying an infant on a water bed, bean bag, or anything soft enough to cover his face.

Your child's sleep wear should fit snugly and be made from flame resistant fabric to reduce the risk of burns, should there be a fire in the house.

Car Safety Seats

Start your baby off right by using a properly installed infant car seat for his trip home from the hospital (buckle yourself in, too!). Babies require rear-facing car seats until they weigh at least 20 pounds and are at least one year of age and they should ride in the back seat at all times. The present recommendation is to keep infants in a rear facing car seat until 2 years of age. To prevent serious injury, never place your child in a rear-facing car safety seat in the front seat of your vehicle and don't place children next to active side air bags unless the car manufacturer states it's safe. No matter what, never travel by car with an infant in your arms or anything else other than in the car seat.

Read the manufacturer's directions for using your car seat and the car owner's manual for installation information. Test the seat for a snug fit by grasping at the base and trying to move it side to side and towards the front of the car. It shouldn't move any more than an inch side to side or toward the front of the car. Your car manufacturer's manual can tell you whether you need a locking clip to prevent movement of the car seat. Tethers, straps that connect the car safety seat to the car, provide extra protection. Newer cars are required to have upper tethers. Tether kits are available for most older car safety seats, so check with your car manufacturer.

Passenger Safety Technician (CPS) can check car safety seat installation for free. To find the nearest CPS, call the National Highway and Transportation Safety Association's Auto Safety Hot Line at (888)327-4216 from 8 AM 10 PM, E.S.T. or visit them at www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

What about second-hand car seats? They may look secure, but they must satisfy the following conditions: 10 years old or less; never been in a car crash; have a label stating the date of manufacture, the seat name and the model number; comes with instructions; has no cracks in the frame; and has no missing parts. lf you are unable to verify all of these conditions, don't use a second-hand car seat.

Car safety seats should not be placed in a shopping cart (and don't allow older children to stand in shopping carts, either). Thousands of children are hurt every year by falling from shopping carts or when carts tip over.

Falls

When or where an infant will first roll over is anyone's guess, so the only safe place for unattended babies is in the crib or playpen; always keep the sides up and locked in place. Never leave your baby alone on your bed or other high places, such as a sofa or changing table. When at the changing table, always keep one hand on your baby during diaper changing. Have everything out and ready before you begin to prevent reaching or the need to leave your child unattended.

Burns

Be careful when warming infant formula or breast milk in bottles. Microwave ovens can heat formula unevenly and burn your child. Placing the bottle under hot running water or in a container of heated water for a few minutes is usually adequate. Always check the temperature of the formula or breast milk on your wrist before feeding to your baby.

Dial down your hot water heater to 120° F to prevent scalding at the tap. Always check the temperature of baby's bath water with your forearm or the back of your hand first and never let go of your baby during a bath.

Child Safety

To avoid burning yourself and your infant, put your baby down when carrying hot foods and liquids. Plates and cups can be fascinating for a baby and he may try to grab hold, spilling the hot contents all over both of you.

Keep your entire family safer by installing smoke detectors on each floor of your home and near sleeping areas. Test the batteries on the first day of each month, and change them on the first day of spring and fall Keep ashtrays, matches and lighters our of baby's reach. Do not allow your baby to play near fireplaces, radiators or space heaters, and never leave barbecue grills unattended or hot oven doors open, even for a moment.

Get The Lead Out

Lead ingestion can result in developmental delays and irreparable brain damage in infants and children. Lead is rarely found naturally in water, but it can get into your tap water through corrosion of plumbing materials, and into the infant formula you prepare for your baby. Very old and poorly maintained homes may be more likely to have lead pipes, joints, and solder. However, new homes are also at risk because so called legal "lead-free" pipes may contain up to 8 percent lead. Call the Environmental Protection Agency's Safe Drinking Water Hotline at (800)426-4791 to find a certified lab in your state that can test the tap water in your home.

The greatest exposure to lead is swallowing or breathing in lead paint chips and dust. Older homes, and old toys and cribs may contain lead paint. Follow lead removal guidelines when renovating a home with lead paint.