Think your home is baby-proofed? Each year, emergency rooms across the United States log over 3 million pediatric visits from children under the age of one. Among the most common reasons why parents bring their baby to the ER? Accidental injuries sustained at home. Check out these common safety hazards many parents overlook.
Falling from Furniture
Most of these injuries (59 percent) are the result of falls and tip overs with a surprising number of emergency room trips involving high chairs.
As a recent study found, one baby is brought to the ER with an injury related to a high chair fall every hour. Accidents are often the result of babies climbing on the chair or standing up in the seat. To prevent high chair mishaps, experts urge parents to always use the chair’s safety restraints.
Falling while Holding Something in Their Mouth
Other falls take place much closer to the ground. Are your baby and her sippy cup inseparable? Over the past two decades, more than 45,000 children been treated in emergency rooms for mouth injuries, including lacerations, caused by holding a bottle, sippy cup or pacifier in their mouths as they toddled along, and then fell. A good rule of thumb? Keep everything—including her thumb—out of your baby’s mouth when she’s on the go.
Some hazardous objects need to be kept of your baby’s reach at all times. These include button batteries, which result in 3,000 ER visits for young children every year, due to accidental ingestion. To keep your baby safe, check battery safety enclosures (in infant and children’s products, battery covers should be screwed in), and clean out old toy boxes, drawers and cupboards, where loose button batteries can fall unnoticed.
Getting Entangled in Electrical Cords
Electrical cords can also pose a safety hazard. In recent years, at least seven children have died after becoming entangled in the cords of safety monitors placed within grabbing distance of their cribs. As a result, the Consumer Product Safety Commission now urges parents to keep baby monitors at least 3 feet away from cribs.
Using a Drop-Sided Crib
While you’re in your baby’s room checking the monitor, take a second look at your baby’s crib. Are you the recipient of a hand-me-down crib from a friend or family member? You might want to hand it back -- if the crib is a drop-sided model. Due to suffocation and entrapment dangers, the United States banned the manufacture and sale of drop-sided cribs beginning in 2011.
Putting Babies to Sleep on Their Stomach
Is it bedtime already? The good news: SIDS rates in the U.S. have dropped dramatically over the past few decades, thanks in large part to the “Back to Sleep” campaign. The not-so-good news: many parents still aren’t getting the message. According to recent safety surveys, at least 28 percent of moms said they put their babies to sleep on their stomach.
Keeping Blankets and Other Soft Items in the Crib
Another sleep safety rule that’s also going unheeded? In the same survey, approximately 73 percent of moms said they keep blankets, bumpers and stuffed animals in their baby’s crib -- despite the suffocation dangers.
Leaving a Baby Alone in the Tub
Danger can also lurk in the bathroom. Do you put your baby in a tub seat or inflatable bath ring at bath time? They might make bathing a baby a little easier, but when it comes to bath time safety, nothing takes the place of a watchful caregiver. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, approximately 105 babies have drowned in recent years because they were left unattended in bath rings or seats that tipped over.
Leaving Buckets Filled with Liquids Unattended
Other drowning risks that can be overlooked at home? Even a small amount of liquid inside a bucket can pose a drowning danger. Of particular concern are 5-gallon buckets—they’re the perfect size for cruising babies to pull up on. If you need a safer alternative to your mop bucket, try dry mopping floors or simply spot spray any stuck on gunk and call it a day.
Less housework and safer babies? Sounds like a great trade-off.