During Caregiving Routines
- Never take your eyes off Baby. Even if Baby has developed to being able to support herself, bathtubs are the second most common place for child drowning in Australia (swimming pools are the most common cause). If you need to leave the room wrap the baby and take her with you.
- A baby's skin can be scalded by the water temperature. Test before putting Baby in. Do not add hot water to the bath while the baby is in it.
- Make sure Baby does not come into contact with hot taps.
Nappy change safety
- Do not take your eyes off Baby.
- Ensure the change table is sturdy and the right height for you to protect your back.
- Have all you need for changing at arms reach so you are always 'in-touch' with Baby.
- After changing, make sure Baby is secure/safe while you 'clean up' the change area and wash your hands.
- Be aware of Baby's first signs of rolling over which can make changing a challenge. You may have to think of an alternative area for changing.
- Have the clothes ready for changing.
- Gently handle the baby and support her little body.
- Think practically with Baby's clothes e.g. make sure the clothes have a reasonable opening that will go over Baby's head without causing her distress or choose front opening clothes.
- Make sure the neckline of the clothes is loose. Tight necklines can cause suffocation.
You need to be aware of the recommendations by health professionals and organisations associated with Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), Sudden Unexpected Death In Infancy (SUDI) and other fatal sleeping accidents that can occur to ensure you are providing the safest sleep environment for your baby.
The following websites provide researched information about safe sleeping practices for babies. Parents need to be fully aware of how to provide such safety for their baby:
- In Australia, Sids and Kids now known as Red Nose is at: https://rednose.org.au/
- In Canada, the Canadian Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths now known as Baby's Breath is at: https://www.babysbreathcanada.ca/
- In the UK, the Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths now known as The Lullaby Trust is at: https://www.lullabytrust.org.uk/
- In the USA, the American Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Institute is at: https://www.sids.org
Importantly, these organisations recommend that babies sleep on a firm mattress on their backs in their own safe 'clutter-free' crib/cot in the same room as the parent's bed for at least the first six months. Parents need to be aware of the risks associated with sharing their sleeping space with Baby (called 'co-sleeping') as research has found this practice increases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), Sudden and Unexpected Death In Infancy (SUDI) and other sleeping accidents.
Other safety issues for sleeping include:
- Baby Slings: In the US, Canada and Australia there have been incidences of infant deaths while sleeping in slings, and injuries caused by infants falling out or from the sling slipping. Parents need to constantly monitor their baby in a sling: A baby’s face needs to be seen - facing outward - with no covering of the mouth and nose, and the chin should NOT be pushed down into the chest (as in the fetal position) as this can block the airway.
- Hazardous nursery/sleeping furniture. Cots sold within Australia should comply with the Australian Standard yet there are no standards relating to bassinettes and cradles. The Children's Hospital Westmead's safety factsheets provides researched information regarding sleeping equipment (Safety Fact Sheets). If you are living out of Australia check the safety standard codes of your country.
- Do not put the baby on an adult bed or lounge/sofa for sleeping as s/he can wriggle and roll off or slide down under cushions and suffocate. Furthermore, a parent falling asleep on a lounge/sofa with the baby is putting the baby at risk of falling or becoming wedged in the lounge/sofa cushions causing suffocation (the latter being a documented cause of infant death).
- Propping the baby's dummy/pacifier in position so it doesn't fall out during sleep can cause suffocation.
- Never prop a bottle up to the baby's mouth and leave him unattended. This can cause suffocation. Baby needs the comfort of your arms and the reassurance of your engaging voice and smile during feeding.
- Having a hot drink while feeding the baby can be spilt causing scalding.
- Never dip the teat/nipple of the bottle or Baby's pacifier/dummy into sweet syrups and drinks or honey as this causes decay to developing teeth and damage to gums.
- Be guided by the child health professionals about introducing solid food to your baby's diet.
- When solid food is introduced and Baby is able to hold and snack on 'finger food' (e.g. pieces of fruit) never leave him unattended because of the risk of choking.
- When in the high chair secure Baby using the safety restraint ... never leave the baby unattended.