When I first discovered I was going to be a mom, we lived in a studio apartment in Round Rock TX: boxes from my recent move from NM, took up half of the living room. Obviously this wasn’t going to work long term, especially when the baby started moving around, but I started researching tricks to make this a safe space for our newborn. We needed baby safety!

How much room could a quiet, teeny tiny baby require I thought, how safe would our 725 sq ft place REALLY Need to be for the first two months of our child’s life. Some of the articles, lists and tips were common sense, but a couple really made me pay attention and change up our routines.

In honor of Baby Safety Awareness month, I thought I would post a few safety tips that I used and a couple of suggestions that are relevant today.

1. CAR SEAT SAFETY

I have always known how important a car seat is in keeping children safe, but did you know more than 75% car seats are put in wrong? Did you know that there is an expiration date on car seats, no matter the size or brand? I often see different organizations in Austin and the surrounding areas, that regularly have free car seat check ups with Child Passenger Safety (CPS) technicians that help you do it correctly. The next one is being held by the Texas Department of State Health Services-Safe Riders program – you can find a full schedule on their website!

2. CORDS FROM WINDOW BLINDS

Although there are many different options now for window blinds, many still come with the two long cords with a plastic nub at the end. When I saw how truly long they are I tied them up out of my daughters reach, unfortunately, we would have to untie them to move the blinds. One time (the only time) we forgot to tie the lines, I found the baby chewing on the plastic end and had it wrapped around her hand while tugging on the whole contraption. 

3.  SMOKE ALARMS & CARBON DIOXIDE DETECTORS

Smoke Alarms go bad! Carbon Dioxide Detectors go bad! They need to be checked often and should be replaced every 10 years; if you are renting or recently bought a house, you really have no idea when the last time that happened. The trick to finding out that info is to look on the back of the alarm and find the date on it, you then calculate the age. If there is no date, REPLACE IMMEDIATELY, that seems to be the rule of thumb for both smoke alarms and CO detectors. 

4.  AGE APPROPRIATE GAMES & TOYS 

When I had my first child, I was very diligent with age appropriate toys and games. When I had my second, that awareness dissipated and I allowed my younger kid to play with toys my older child was into. I of course did not skip the obvious items like ShopKins, game pieces, paper books and craft projects with little pieces. However,  I did overlook Barbie shoes, doll hair barrettes, head phone ear pieces, wipes and toilet paper….these are ALL items my second child has swallowed and passed. 

5.  TOP HEAVY FURNITURE 

Another obvious item on this list, but I assumed that only tall, wobbly shelves needed to be addressed, NOPE. Furniture of all shapes and sizes can fall and need to be tested: lamps, tall dining room chairs, rocking ottomans, hooks that hold jackets or bags (they make good ladders and swings).

6.  SUCKING/EATING WIPES

When changing diapers outside of my home I would sing, dance and give the baby the wipe package. Anything I could use as a distraction, while using the small space to clean up a wiggling baby, would do. After a while, they got smart and started opening and closing the pouch, yay they are quiet. Then my kid would start to wipe their face, like I would do for them and I thought ‘ aww they are learning’! One day a piece of the wipe was missing (more of that on my list), not so cute anymore, so I checked google to see if it was going to pass through his system…bad idea. I started reading about how it could possibly harmful for kids to suck on wipe, scientists might not all agree, but I thought why chance it.

7. BATTERIES & MAGNETS

I know it sounds silly to put this on a list, because who would purposely give their children batteries and magnets to play with. What I failed to realize is that we use these items everyday, but in hidden ways. Love magnets on the fridge, they hold up art work, important information and look cute. I wouldn’t think they were a danger, until I found my youngest eating my Poland landscape magnet, minus the magnetic strip.  

Remote controls, FABS and toys have coverings to keep the batteries in, but what happens when they break. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen controllers, of all types, with tape on them to keep the batteries inside.  

8. BATH TIME

Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death for children, and it’s not only in bathtubs or pools; it can happen with toilets and buckets. I had no idea this happened, but please be aware.  Never leave children unattended, even for a moment, in the bathroom or tub; get everything you might need for bath time (even a sippy cup and phone) so you do not have to leave the room. The other item you should be aware of is bath toys, even the best made bath toy will get moldy. They should be cleaned often and thrown away when applicable. The last thing to touch on would be the faucet. The one we have in our bathroom is hard to move from hot and cold, but the one at my mothers house is pretty easy. I think they noticed how easily I turned the faucet on and when I was distracted with one child, the other turned the hot water faucet on. Luckily I heard it and turned off the scalding water before it affected the kids.

9. SUN SAFETY   

Sun screen is not the only way to protect our kids from the sun; clothing and hydration can also assist in sun safety. The mistake I made when the kids were younger and I first moved to the Austin area was to dress them in the least amount of clothes when going out. It’s humid here and I thought they would stay cooler if they were not covered from head to toe. I soon realized that my kids burn easy and staying cool doesn’t mean uncovered. Hats shield the tops of their heads and faces just as light loose clothing can protect arms and legs from harmful rays. Hydration is another way to keep your child safe in the sun. When they were younger, I always had water so it was easy to have it on hand. As they have gotten older, they want to have their own water bottles, but they can be pretty expensive. A solution I came up with is to buy the plastic bundle of 4 ($3) and let them put stickers or mark them up; so if they get lost it didn’t cost me a fortune and we can have a quick arts & crafts project. 

Photo Credit :: Noëlle Westcott Photography

Becky is a transplant from New Mexico and has been in the area for 5 years now. She has her Bachelors of Science in Education from New Mexico State University and has been involved with Big Bothers/Big Sisters; Habitat for Humanity; and TRiO EDucational Talent Search. She is engaged to Ryan and the mother to a feisty and silly 5 year old named Olivia and a curious 2 yr old named Frankie. Becky enjoys exploring Austin and the surrounding areas; during the weekend, Olivia and Frankie will drive up to 2 hours in any direction, to try a new activity, attend a festival or play in a new park.

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