Health And Safety For Your Baby
Becoming a parent doesn’t only mean loving this new little person more than you can imagine, it also means you are responsible for another life.
You always have to be aware where your child is, what she’s doing and with whom she’s doing it with. A little one’s safety is probably a parent’s biggest concern.
But as we all know accidents do happen. That’s why it’s important to try and avoid these accidents as best as you could. If it does happen that your baby’s in trouble, you should know what to do and who to call to avoid any damage or trauma.
Like any parent knows, babies and young children have a natural habit of putting things into their mouths which can easily cause choking.
Choking often happens very quietly, meaning that once you realise your baby’s in trouble, it could be too late.
According to the Health Service Executive (HSE) choking is most commonly caused by the following:
- Food – Sausages, grapes (and similar shaped fruit and vegetables, like cherry tomatoes), nuts, marshmallows, peanut butter, raw carrots, chewing gum, boiled sweets, popcorn
- Objects – Any small objects, magnets, coins, under-sized soothers, small toys and bits of toys, marbles, beads, balloons, elastic bands and small batteries
Avoid Choking Risks During Meal Times:
- Supervision is key. Here are a few ways to help avoid choking risks:
- If bottle feeding, always hold your baby in your arms and the bottle in your hand. Never prop or lean the bottle against a pillow or another support.
- When breastfeeding in bed, always return your baby to their own cot for sleep.
- Do not leave your child alone at meal or snack times. Develop the routine that your child sits at the table accompanied by a parent/guardian.
- Never let your child run or walk around while eating. They should sit still while enjoying their food.
- Don’t let your child eat in their bed.
- When it’s time to wean your baby, make sure the consistency is suitable and correct for your child’s age.
- Always cut up food to a size that your child can chew and eat safely, like grapes or cherry tomatoes. Cut it in quarters rather than let them eat it whole, and rather grate raw carrots or apples.
Avoid Choking Risks Around The House:
- Keep small objects, like button batteries, magnets and small parts of toys, balloons and undersized smoothers out of reach of children and out of sight.
- Your child should only play with age-appropriate toys.
- Never put jewellery of any kind (including teething necklaces) on a child under three years. Bits could come off and be a choking hazard.
- Never place hair bands, clips or hair ties on your baby
- Only adults should inflate balloons and always supervise your child around it
- Keep remote control away from children
- Ensure all toys’ battery compartments are secure and cannot be opened by little hands
- Children should never run with sharp objects, food or lollipops in their mouths
What To Do If Your Child Is Choking?
It can be the scariest thing for a parent to see their child’s choking.
If your baby is in trouble, make sure you know what to do if it happens according to the Irish Red Cross:
- If your baby is unable to breathe, cough or cry, and you suspect she has an obstruction in her throat, turn your baby on her tummy and give up to five back blows between the shoulder blades with the heel of your hand.
- If the obstruction is still present, give up to five chest thrusts, with two fingers in the middle of the chest.
- Continue this cycle of five back blows and five chest thrusts until help arrives.
- If the infant goes unconscious, dial 999 (or 112) for an ambulance and then follow CPR protocols.
- Anyone who has been treated for choking in this way should be advised to see their doctor after the incident.
If your child is choking, St John Ambulance recommends you do the following:
- Encourage your child to cough it out.
- If the coughing doesn’t help, bend your child forward and use the heel of your hand to give up to five sharp back blows between their shoulder blades. Check their mouth to see if there’s anything in there, If there is, get them to pick it out themselves.
- If the object is still stuck in their throat, give them five abdominal thrusts: Stand behind the child, making sure they are bending well forward.
- Link your hands between their belly button and the bottom of their chest, with your lower hand clenched in a fist, then sharply pull inwards and upwards.
- If they’re still choking, call 999 (or 112) for an ambulance.
- Once the ambulance is on its way, continue trying to slap and squeeze it out until help arrives or the object is out.
- If, at any stage, your child becomes unconscious, start CPR.
Travel Safety: Car Seats
Although you can’t be sure to never be in an accident, you can make sure that your child is safe if it ever may happen.
Getting the correct car seat for your baby or toddler is one of the most important decisions you’ll be making early on in your pregnancy.
Keep the following in mind whenever you let your child travel in a car:
Install a car seat in the safest available position – The middle seat at the back is the safest as this position is the furthest away from all points of impact. However, many cars don’t have a proper middle seat. So the next best position would be behind the passenger’s seat.
Always choose the correct car seat for your child’s current height and weight – You should switch to a Group 1 (toddler) car seat when the top of the baby’s head extends past the top of the baby seat. Switch to Group 2/3 (child) when the child reaches 18kg, the child’s eye line is above the top of the Group 1 seat or the shoulders of the child are above the highest openings of the seat straps.
Keep your baby rear-facing for as long as possible (up to four years is recommended) – A newborn’s underdeveloped boned and muscles are unable to prevent its large and heavy head from being thrown forward in an accident. When rearward-facing, a newborn’s head and neck are fully supported, with the forces of an impact being spread over the whole back and not just the head and neck.
Making sure your child gets vaccinated, is just one of a parent's countless important responsibilities.
According to the HSE immunisation is a simple, safe and effective way of protecting babies and children against certain diseases. The risks from having these diseases are far greater than the risk of any minor side effects from immunisation.
It’s important that your child gets all his vaccines as he’ll only be partly protected against the disease if he doesn’t.
Here is a list of when and what vaccines your child should get (according to the HSE):
- At birth – Tuberculosis (BCG) at your maternity hospital or HSE clinic
- Two months – 6 in 1 Vaccine (Diphtheria, Tetanus, Whooping Cough, Hib, Polio, Hepatitis B), Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV), Meningococcal B Vaccine (MenB Vaccine), Rotavirus oral vaccine. This is free from your GP.
- Four months – 6 in 1 Vaccine, MenB Vaccine, Rotavirus oral vaccine. This is free from your GP.
- Six Months – 6 in 1 Vaccine, PCV, MenC Vaccine. Free from your GP.
- 12 months – Measles Mumps Rubella (MMR) and MenB Vaccine. Free from your GP.
- 13 Months – Hib/MenC and PCV. Free from your GP.
Read Next: A Simple Guide To The Immunisation Schedule
Because a baby’s skin is very new and very delicate, rashes are quite common in small children.
Here are a few rashes that might appear and how you can treat them:
Nappy rash – Nappy rash has a variety of causes, the most common being extended contact with urine or poo. A baby with sensitive skin may be prone to nappy rash that stems from another cause, like a nappy rubbing or chafing the skin. Always change wet or dirty nappies as soon as you can, leave your baby’s nappy off for as long and as often as you can to let fresh air at the skin and once your baby’s bottom has been thoroughly cleaned, apply a barrier cream to the skin which will protect the skin.
Milia – Milia are minuscule white cysts that can appear on the surface of your baby’s skin, usually on the face. It appears because the oil glands on your baby’s face are still developing. Don’t try and remove it. There is no treatment required for milia and they are completely harmless.
Cradle cap – This rash is yellowish, greasy scaly patches that can often appear on the scalp of babies. It is very common and totally harmless that generally doesn’t cause any discomfort to the baby. It requires no specific treatment and most cases of cradle cap will clear up on their own in time.
Baby eczema – Eczema is a persistent itchy skin condition and usually starts within the first five years of life, most often in the first six months. It often lasts into the teenage years. In some cases it may last into adulthood. It can range from very mild to a more severe form. Apply a barrier cream, such as Vaseline, on the chin and cheeks of a teething baby that can help to protect the skin from irritation caused by drooling. Bath your child daily and avoid using bubble baths and soaps that can irritate the skin.
It’s time for summer holidays which means the family might be spending time on the beach or in swimming pools.
Although it’s encouraged to let your family enjoy being in the water, it’s very important to always ensure their safety first.
- Always actively supervise young children – Keep an eye on your children at ALL times.
- Supervising adults should be within arms reach of children under five
- Supervising adults MUST be able to swim – And not be afraid of water.
- Never leave your child alone near water – Even if it’s just to quickly go to the bathroom. Always take your child with you or designate a reliable adult to supervise while you’re gone.
- Always empty paddling pools when they're not in use, and turn them upside down.
Safety Around The House
When you’re out and about, you’re usually very aware of your child’s safety, but it’s crucial to always keep being aware even when you’re at home.
Your little one is still out exploring, so make sure that it’s a safe environment for her to do so:
Keep electricity sockets closed – Crawling and walking babies often want to push their little fingers in the holes of the sockets which can be very dangerous. Keep it closed with a cover little hands won’t be able to remove.
Keep pots’ and pans’ handles out of reach – Especially when you’re using it to cook dinner on the stove. Your little one might just try to grab that handle when pulling herself up and it can tip all over her.
Keep the stairs safe – If you have a staircase in your house, make sure that your child won’t be able to go up and down it without your supervision. Keep a little gate at the top and bottom of it that your baby won’t be able to open on herself.
Keep the toilet closed – Although it’s gross thinking about little hands wanting to touch the inside of a toilet bowl, your little one can easily fall head first into it which can lead to drowning. Keep a latch on the toilet lid that keeps your child from opening it.
Keep bookcases and other drawers secured to the wall – While your child is exploring, they might want to climb up against the shelves. If it’s not secured to the wall, it can easily tip over and fall onto your child which can be disastrous.
How do you keep your little one safe? Tell us about it in the comments below.