For the letter ‘H’ I have chosen to talk about Health and Safety.
The guidelines for keeping babies safe are changing all the time as new scientific research comes to the fore. Some things that were acceptable in my generation or my parent’s generation are considered dangerous now, so it’s important to be up-to-date with current advice.
Safe Sleep Guidelines
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
, sometimes known as ‘cot death’, is every parent’s worst nightmare. It refers to the sudden and unexplained death of an apparently healthy baby. It’s important to remember that SIDS is rare and the chances of it occurring are low. However, there is some advice from the NHS
that may help to lower the risk
of SIDS. The main points are:
- Place your baby on their back to sleep, not their front or side, with their feet touching the bottom of the cot or moses basket (so they can’t wiggle down).
- Make sure your baby’s mattress if flat and firm.
- Have your baby sleep in a cot beside you in your room for the first six months.
- Don’t smoke during pregnancy or breastfeeding or expose your baby to any second hand smoke.
- Don’t share a bed with your baby if you’ve been drinking alcohol, taking drugs or if you smoke or are exhausted.
- If you do bed share, practice safe bed-sharing. Make sure you have a firm mattress and that any blankets and pillows are away from your baby. Consider getting a bed rail to stop them rolling out of bed in the night and don’t put them in the middle of the bed if you share it with a partner.
- Don’t sleep with your baby on a sofa or armchair.
- Don’t let your baby get too hot or cold. Don’t put them to bed in a hat, for example.
- Avoid the use of blankets, pillows and cot bumpers which pose a risk of suffocation or entanglement. Instead you can use a well-fitted baby sleeping bag. Keep stuffed animals out of the cot too.
- Breastfeeding reduces the risk of SIDS.
- It’s possible using a dummy at the start of a sleep also reduces the risk of SIDS, but there is still not enough evidence to know for sure.
Car Seat Safety
The law states that all children under 12 years old (unless they are at least 135cm in height) must use the correct child car seat for ALL journeys, no matter how short. The current guidelines for infant car seats are:
- The car seat must conform to the United Nations standard, ECE Regulation 44.04 (or R 44.03) or to the new i-size regulation, R129. Look for the ‘E’ mark label on the seat.
- It must be suitable for your child’s weight and size
- It must be fitted correctly and securely according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Avoid buying a second-hand seat unless you are certain of its history. If it has been involved in an accident it may have internal damage even if it looks fine on the outside and may not come with instructions. Also, older seats may not be designed to modern safety standards so may offer less protection.
- It is safest for children to travel rear-facing until at least 2 years of age. Consider buying a ar seat that will allow your child to sit facing the back of the car for as long as possible.
- Never fit a baby seat in the front if there is an active airbag on the passenger side of the car. If you are fitting a forward-facing child seat in the front of a car (with no airbag), make sure the car seat is as far back as it will go to reduce the possibility of head or chest injuries in a crash.
- The safest place to put the car seat is in the rear middle seat, because it is furthest away from the sides of the car. If it won’t fit there, use the left side (unless you live in a country that drives on the right) as this is usually closest to the curb. Make sure the seat in front is pushed forward so there is a gap between it and the car seat.
- The straps should be tight enough that you can only put two fingers between the straps and your baby’s chest. The harness buckle should never rest over the child’s tummy.
- Don’t put your child in padded clothing such as a snowsuit or coat as during a crash these can compress and create extra space between the safety straps and your child’s body, resulting in injury.
- Don’t attach anything to your car seat (toys, padded inserts etc.) unless it came with the car seat. In an accident a toy could come lose and fly at your baby at high speeds.
- A child car seat that was in a car when it was involved in a collision should be replaced, even if there is no visible damage.
Other Health and Safety Concerns
Here are some links to websites and articles about various infant health and safety issues:
Babycentre-Keeping your baby safe
NHS-Baby and toddler safety
Foodsafety.gov-Baby food and infant formula
Babycentre-Childproofing checklist: before your baby crawls
After the Injury-Child safety tips
British Red Cross-Baby and child first aid
St. John’s Ambulance-first aid for parents