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December 21, 2018

Pregnancy through preschool: Learn the rules of child safety

By Lisa Mayrose, Florida Department of Children and Families

Whether you’re expecting or have a newborn at home, there are three very important child safety rules to remember from the time you’re pregnant until your child is in preschool (or even older). These safety tips will help prevent drowning, suffocation from unsafe sleep, and abusive head trauma.

Pregnancy to birth

Pregnancy is an exciting time and well-meaning friends and family will likely give you gifts. Although they are well-intended, cute teddy bears, soft blankets and decorative crib bumpers should never be used in the crib. Infants can easily suffocate from these items in their crib since they can’t lift their head if their mouth or nose becomes covered. All your baby will need is a fitted sheet. Always remember the ABCs of safe sleep during naptime or bedtime – Alone, on their Backs, and in a Crib.

Pregnancy is also a good time to think about the placement of your baby’s crib. Parents may initially consider co-sleeping for extra bonding, but infants are 40 times more likely to die in adult beds than in their own crib. Studies show that babies bond just as well in a crib in your room or in a bassinet placed next to your bed.

Newborn to six months

Until your baby can lift their head, it’s essential to follow the ABCs of safe sleep – Alone, on their Backs, and in a Crib. Bring a pack ‘n play when traveling or if your baby will be sleeping at someone else’s house. Never place a baby on a couch, blow-up mattress or adult bed – even if it is for a few minutes.

Your baby may be getting plenty of sleep, but you likely won’t feel well-rested. This stage of parenting can be exhausting and stressful. A quick way to de-stress when your baby won’t stop crying is to place them safely in their crib and go into another room for a few minutes.

De-stressing is important. Use coping mechanisms to keep from shaking your baby out of frustration. Even one shake can be fatal or cause permanent brain damage.

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Six months to preschool

From infancy to the toddler stage, continue to use safe stress relief outlets and be aware of the constant threat of drowning. It becomes a concern as soon as your baby is able to crawl.

Watch your child while at the pool and beach, but remember there are hidden drowning hazards everywhere. Children can drown in as little as one inch of water and in 20 seconds, so be sure that they’re unable to get to pet water bowls, toilets and bathtubs. Always shut and lock backdoors that lead to pools, canals, lakes and retention ponds, and invest in a pool fence.

There is no substitute for supervision so ensure that you, or someone you know, is watching your child at all times.

While these tips are essential to remember and use every day, keep in mind that every baby’s development is unique and should be considered regarding the time frame of these tips.

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Lisa Mayrose is the Regional Managing Director for the Florida Department of Children and Families Suncoast Region. She has over two decades of experience in the field of prevention and child welfare.