Baby Safety: Around the House, Every Day and During COVID
September is Baby Safety Month. Yun Boylston, MD, shares tips for keeping your little one safe every day of the year (and during COVID-19) in this 2 Your Well-Being discussion with WFMY News 2.
What are some unexpected items I should baby-proof for?
"Families tend to be very good about baby proofing fixtures like the cords, sharp corners, but one thing that often is overlooked would be everyday items that can potentially be a choking hazard. These include things like detergent pods in the laundry room, maybe certain medicines or other things that might be kept out in the open. Legos or other small little objects that older children may have, as well as something that seems really innocent like a remote control, which can have button batteries that are certainly a risk for small infants and toddlers because the first thing they want to do is put them in their mouth."
What is the best way to identify where to baby proof?
"First, it would be a great idea to one not get overwhelmed, and kind of get in the position where the child or infant is going to experience the room. So typically that's on the ground in crawler mode if you do have a mover. And look at what might cause trouble, what looks really tempting and colorful, what might they pull down on and what else might fall down because of that."
"And the other thing that I think helps parents is that the baby doesn't need free reign over your entire house. It might be just their bedroom and a good part of the living room. And so really focus on those areas. Areas like your laundry room, your kitchen or the bathroom - the baby really does require close supervision, and so they should be monitored at all times in those environments."
What advice do you have for parents who already have children?
"I think that tends to be when parents get a little complacent, and sometimes it's actually those situations that tend to lead to trouble. I think it's always a good idea to approach each infant or child with a fresh set of eyes. Their temperament may be different, that child may get into things that maybe older children didn't. And also recommendations can change within the years between children, and so there certainly are product recalls or things that families may have used with older children that really may not be recommended at this time. And so staying up to date is really important."
What are the do's and don'ts of putting a baby to sleep?
"So the current recommendations for all infants under 12 months is to always put them on their back to sleep in their own space, and that's for several reasons. One would be we certainly want to reduce SIDS risk, which is sudden infant death syndrome, we want to avoid any sort of suffocation during sleep and we also want to promote really good uninterrupted sleep patterns. And so being in their own space on their back and then within that bassinet or crib environment, it's really important to avoid any plush objects like pillows, bumpers, plush blankets or stuffed animals - it really should be a really spartan environment with just a thin blanket and a firm mattress. That's what's best at this time."
What should parents know about hot weather and leaving children in cars?
"When we hear about [children being left in hot cars], that's such a tragic event and certainly we want to do everything we can to to reduce that risk and for parents who are on the go. This is a really frenzied time. Parents are often distracted and have a lot on their minds, but I think that if you just come up with a mental tool that - you know, kids and keys. So it might be something as simple as I take the keys out and you always want to check, especially if you have an infant carrier in the car, just a little spot check that you hardwire into your car routine can be really helpful and prevent those lapses in attention."
"Good habits are to just lock the car when it's not in use and that's to prevent, one, just good habits to prevent theft, but also if you have children playing outside they might get into the cars they may accidentally lock themselves in, and so we really want to avoid those preventable situations."
COVID-19 is still present in our community. How can we protect infants and young children?
"The best way to protect small children and those who are not eligible to be vaccinated is to create a cocoon, and that means to have everyone around those children who are eligible to be fully vaccinated and even when you're not around the child to practice safe habits such as wearing a mask in public and also washing hands diligently. And that way, it really reduces the overall exposure for those children and infants.
Are antibodies from the COVID-19 vaccine able to be passed to babies from breastfeeding moms?
"Studies have shown that the vaccinated breastfeeding moms do have protective COVID-19 antibodies in their breast milk, and we know this to be true for several other vaccine preventable illnesses, such as whooping cough and flu. And that's why those vaccines are encouraged during pregnancy to really help not just the mom, but also the baby."
Is it OK to have friends and family members over to visit a new baby if they are not vaccinated?
"This can be a very challenging, but important and necessary discussion for all families. You really want to talk to each other about the risks, and right now with the high prevalence of COVID, exposing your infant and your family unit to unvaccinated individuals certainly does entail risk, and it really is about what you're comfortable with. And it's important to know that everyone has the best of intentions, but you know ,sometimes you can actually be contagious and not have significant symptoms at that time, so always you know being mindful that there is a potential you may have it, certainly if you're unvaccinated, and I think that it's really important that we support families so that they don't feel socially pressured to do anything that they feel is unsafe for their baby, or that what may put them in harm's way."
What are the do's and don'ts of safe playdates during COVID-19?
"We really want children to thrive, and we know that a big part of that is social development. So it's learning how to play with one another, but there are definitely safe ways to do it in this current time. Some of the best practices might be keeping the play group small, choosing an outdoor setting, making sure that children are washing their hands and also you take your own snacks, you don't share common drinks or other foods, and for the children who are younger, especially under three, that they stick to their own toys, especially those that are really prone to putting things in their mouth."