When we announced to family and friends that my wife and I were expecting our first baby, the flood gates opened with parenting advice and horror stories of what misery lay ahead. I am a pretty practical person, so I approached all of this with a healthy level of skepticism. Boy was I wrong. All of the things you read about are true. Rest become this rare thing that always feels just out of reach. You are exposed to more projectile bodily fluids than ever before. You feel like someone shouldn’t have let you leave the hospital because you aren’t ready to do this without professional supervision. However, day by day you realize how rewarding of an experience it truly is and that babies are pretty resilient because, it should come as no surprise, parents make a lot of mistakes.
Because parents make a lot of mistakes, there is still a laundry list of baby safety tips you hear and read about. These are three safety tips I didn’t see when I was doing my parenting research.
Safety Tip #1: Set Baby Boundaries for Your Pets
Don’t overlook introducing your baby to your pets.
My wife and I spent time training our dog to be fun-loving, somewhat obedient, and social. So, the good news was we were starting from a good base. However, if your dog has some personality quirks before you have kids, they won’t improve once you have a baby. In fact, your dog may become more dangerous with more pronounced quirks.
You can teach an old dog new tricks though! It’s definitely harder for adult dogs versus puppies who are somewhat of a blank slate. However, with the right persistence and consistency, any dog can change.
We started by training our dog to respect boundaries around our daughter’s nursery, crib, stroller, clothes, car seat, etc. We would let him sniff and explore all of those things, but made him keep a couple of feet of distance at all times. I know it sounds extreme but it worked.
It was good to set that foundation before our daughter was born. After her birth, our dog’s world went into a tailspin and the boundaries we set with him made it so we didn’t have to spend time teaching him how to keep his distance while we were distracted with diaper changes, cleaning up baby puke, and non-stop crying. I’m sure you’ve heard of the famed dog trainer, Cesar Milan. He actually has a great article outlining these tips.
Safety Tip #2: Secure and Stabilize Top-Heavy Furniture
Don’t overlook securing furniture. Make sure it can’t fall on top of a climbing or “grabby” baby.
We are at the point now where our daughter is becoming more mobile every day. As a result, she is starting to explore the house and isn’t afraid of anything. Anything in front of her becomes a thing she can’t help but grab, pull, and throw. There have been numerous plates, drinking glasses, and other breakable items that we swore were out of her reach that she was able to pull onto the floor.
Most parents focus on electrical sockets, sharp edges, stairs, and pools. While those are important, what often gets overlooked are dressers, entertainment centers, floor lamps, and even heavy electronics like televisions. In fact, according to safekids.org, 15 children go to the ER every day because of a TV tip-over. It is important to secure these things to studs in the wall or tie-down things like televisions with straps to make sure they aren’t at risk of tipping over on top of your baby.
Safety Tip #3: Avoid Baby Distraction Driving
Don’t become a distracted driver.
You often hear horror stories about accidents caused by people staring at their phones or by fidgeting with their car’s Bluetooth connection. Many forget to mention how distracting it is to have a baby screaming in the backseat.
It’s unsettling to hear my daughter cry. If she’s upset while I’m driving, my initial reaction is to reach back and hand her a toy or turn my head to see if something is wrong. It is so hard to fight that urge, but taking your eyes off of the road even for a second can increase your risks for an accident. The National Safety Council estimates that drivers who are distracted can miss seeing up to 50% of their driving environments.
To create a safer driving environment, I’ve installed a headrest mirror just above my daughter’s car seat so I can see her in my rearview mirror. I also try not to impulsively turn my head when she cries. Pro tip: consider keeping a few toys in your cupholder upfront. I have toys ready to go if she gets mad because she threw her toy that is now out of reach. With those toys ready to go, I don’t have to turn my head around when I’m driving.
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