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Babyproofing: The First Steps for Newborn Home Safety

By The Welcome Baby Care Doulas

The little plastic plugs that go in the light sockets, those annoying hooks you thread through the handles of your kitchen cabinets, a gate to barricade the stairs—that should cover it, right?

Most parents, when nearing the end of their pregnancy, are preparing the carseat and the nursery, but are thinking less about safety in the home itself. After all, most new parents assume, newborns don’t move a whole lot—the time when you really have to be concerned is when they start crawling and scooting around and filling their little mouths with deadly poisons and all manner of choke-ables. But read on, there’s more to newborn home safety than you may realize.

The bulk of what you do to keep your baby safe before the crawling stage is going to come from the exercise of your own common sense and your compliance with state and federal laws on car seat, crib, and other pieces of baby equipment. But there are a few things to add to your list of “To-do before bringing baby home.”

The baby gate can wait a few months, but getting your home ready for a safe baby homecoming starts pre-delivery. Once baby comes there’s no longer time to plan and run to the hardware store—get your home ready in advance.

Your pre-delivery preparations should involve a careful review of the home environment. Start with the air you breathe. Install carbon monoxide detectors and make sure your furnace filters are clean to help eliminate allergens and dust particles in the air. Make sure your smoke detectors are in good working order with fresh batteries—one smoke detector in each bedroom. Install a fire extinguisher and have a fire escape route—discuss exit routes with everyone in the home and designate who is in charge of getting who out in the event of a fire.

In the nursery, sweet often trumps safety. But this is the place where your baby will spend the majority of their time, make sure your primary baby space is up to code. Keep it simple. Says pediatric nurse Kristina Michael, “I always talk about no bumper pads, stuffed animals, or heavy blankets in the crib. These are all considered unsafe for newborns now. There should be only the crib sheet, baby, and the blanket/s that baby is wrapped in. And of course, back to sleep.” And remember, though newborns don’t move as much as a crawling baby, there is a little-understood rolling reflex in newborns—make sure you use the safety strap on the changing table when changing baby.

Have a first aid kit especially for babies. You can probably buy an expensive pre-made version of this at a baby store, but you can also compile your own. See here for a list of what to include.

On a card by the phone, write emergency phone numbers. Also write down your own address. Visitors or doulas in your home won’t have your address committed to memory—if they have to make an emergency phone call, having the address handy will save time for the dispatcher.

According to the National Safe Kids Campaign, 4.5 million children are injured in the home each year and as many as 90% of these accidents are preventable with simple safety measures. If you have questions about home safety, infant CPR, or proper carseat installation, and inspection, please go here and contact us for more information. We are happy to answer any question to help promote newborn safety in your home.

Any safety tricks or tips that worked for you? Share with our readers in the comments section below!

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