Monday, January 10, 2011

Baby Proofing by Baby’s Stages -Part 1: Birth-6 months

By Jennifer Goldbronn, RD

Knowing about your baby’s developmental stages can help you baby-proof your home effectively. By anticipating how your baby’s development will affect his ability to explore his surroundings, you can be ready for almost anything! Now let’s get down to your baby’s level (physically, at least) and see what potential dangers lurk around your baby’s environment. Remember, baby-proofing alone does not ensure your child will be completely safe; so never leave your baby unattended.

Birth-4 weeks
At this age, baby-proofing your house may seem unnecessary since your new arrival isn’t very mobile yet. However, it is always better to be prepared before your baby reaches the next stage of development. You will be amazed how quickly your baby will grow and begin to explore. The best way to begin the baby-proofing process is to get down to your baby’s level. Crawl around your home and you will quickly find dangerous places where little bodies could get injured or unsafe objects that little fingers could grab. Your baby may not be able to move much yet, but it won’t be long before he is up and walking and finding ways to get into things. Here are a few more safety tips to keep in mind:
  • Never leave your baby unattended! Newborns are born with the ability to move their arms and legs in a swimming motion and lift their heads when placed on their stomachs. Do not assume that a newborn is safe while lying on a changing table or bed (even king size beds)!

  • When your baby is on the changing table make sure to use the safety belt to avoid accidents.

  • Be sure to remove all blankets and pillows if your baby is lying on a bed. Also, an adult should always be close by in the same room.

  • Babies begin to explore objects by mouth as soon as 1 month old. Remember to check the objects near your baby to make sure they are safe, soft and no smaller than a toilet paper roll in diameter.

  • Before buying a crib, review the following crib safety tips published by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

  • Use caution when buying used baby items or using hand-me-downs. The CPSC has also launched a campaign to keep dangerous used children’s products out of thrift and consignment stores and off the internet, click here for more information.

6-8 weeks
By 6-8 weeks of age, your baby’s neck is growing stronger, and he is able to hold his head up for longer amounts of time. His ability to reach for and grasp objects consistently is right around the corner! With so many possibilities for movement, it is still very important to never leave your baby unattended. Never leave a young baby on an adult bed, couch, or other high surface. You won’t believe how far they can move, long before they can roll or crawl!

4-5 months
By 4 or 5 months of age, babies are learning to sit with support and to use their hands to balance while sitting. They may also start rolling over and can quickly figure out how to use rolling to transport them from one area of a room to another. Babies start to reach for objects and learn how to transfer them from one hand to the other. Babies always seem to find your cell phone or the remote control to the TV around this age, and they will suck and chew on them until you can't make a call or are unable to change the channel! All of this means that your baby’s ability to explore his surroundings just got a lot easier.

  • Keep breakables up and out of your baby’s ever-extending reach

  • Shorten or remove any cords, especially around window blinds

  • Block the fireplace and use gates near stairs or other unsafe areas

  • Think twice when putting baby down. Your baby can easily roll off of any elevated surface at this age.

Your baby’s first 6 months will fly by (if they haven’t already). Now it’s time to prepare for the second half of your baby’s first year. Next time we’ll explore how to continue the baby-proofing process as your older baby develops and becomes even more mobile.

Next time: Part 2: Baby Proofing by Baby’s Stages - 6-12 months

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