September is Baby Safety Month, and with a few days left, it seems like a great time to talk about ways to keep our littlest sons, daughters, nieces, nephews and godchildren healthy and safe. If you know a mom-to-be with a baby shower coming up, or if a new baby has recently arrived in your family or circle of friends, you may be thinking about what type of gift to get. There are tons of great options out there, as well as several items that you should avoid. Here’s a list of “don’ts” when it comes to shopping for a baby or toddler:
- Unsafe bedding. Soft, squishy and plush layette pieces are cute and snuggly looking, and seem like they’d be perfect in a new baby’s nursery. Unfortunately, these sweet-looking crib accessories can injure an infant. Putting pillows or plush quilts in a crib can lead to suffocation, and bumper pads can entangle a baby. A bare crib with just a snugly-fitted sheet is the safest sleeping situation for young babies.
- Older baby items. While the crib or changing table that you see at a thrift may be not only adorable, but a great deal besides, chances are good that it’s not up to current safety regulations. Cribs manufactured before 2011 may have drop sides, which can put babies at risk, and older changing tables might not have four sides, a safety precaution that newer changing tables have. You should also know that used carseats can be very dangerous: not only might they be expired, but previous accidents can cause invisible damage that puts the baby at risk.
- Warm mist humidifiers. While a humidifier can be the answer to the stuffy noses and dry coughs of childhood respiratory illnesses, it needs to be the cool mist version for safety. Warm mist humidifiers can grow mold and bacteria, and they can also burn your baby once he starts toddling around the room.
- Walkers. While you and I probably scooted around our homes in walkers when we weren’t quite ready to walk on our own yet, these have been deemed dangerous by the people who study injuries as they relate to baby items. They can tip over on uneven flooring and can also cause a baby to go careening down the basement stairs if someone accidentally leaves the door open. Better just avoid problems by buying a stationary bouncy-twirly seat instead.
Some of these precautions may seem strange to those who have children in elementary or middle school, because safety standards change rapidly. Just remember that when we know better, we’re able to do better, so even if you used a drop-side crib with your kids (I did!), new moms don’t want to take the chance on accounts of “my kids had that, and they were fine.” Stick to the new baby safety rules when purchasing gifts for new babies; after all, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!