Safety Tips for Novice Parents

At a baby shower for a first-time mom over the weekend, my fellow guests got onto the subject of product recalls. The mom-to-be mentioned that her sister-in-law had offered a used stroller, but that it had been recalled due to a problem with the hood and she wasn’t sure whether she should accept it or not. Since the sister-in-law had used it for a good many years without losing one of her fingers to the potentially faulty hood, she wasn’t all that worried about the recall. As it happens, she also has two kids, so she had the wisdom of experience on her side.

It’s not that first-time parents shouldn’t worry about potential dangers to their baby (or, in this case, themselves). But a study done last year found that they are not very good at spotting true risks to in a mock home setup – and they tend to think that their child is smart/coordinated/lucky enough to avoid risks in their own home. Consequently, their risk assessment for their child tends to be all out of whack.

Some of the things novice parents should pay attention to include: preventing falls (from changing tables, for example), water temperature in bathtubs, properly installed car seats, and placing their newborn on his back to sleep to reduce the risk of suffocation or sudden infant death syndrome. (Answer to the pop quiz: The baby is not safe -- she is at risk because she is not on her back and her head and face are covered with a blanket. Blankets, stuffed animals, crib bumpers, pillows and other soft objects can increase the likelihood of a death from suffocation or SIDS, especially in babies younger than 1 year of age. For more information, click here.)

Not surprisingly, marketers are savvy enough to know that these are legitimate concerns, so along with the good, common-sense precautions, parents can choose from a multitude of “helpful” products like bathtub liners that change color when the water is too hot.

Parents who are interested in assessing their child’s true risk in everyday situations should take a look at the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control’s homepage, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Parents who are concerned about product they’re thinking of purchasing should go to a site like Recalls.gov, a one-stop shop for info about everything from car seats to the 4,500 products on the recall list at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

And parents who’re afraid off becoming worry-warts should check out the blog Free Range Kids: How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry) by Lenore Skenazy. She helps sort out what we really need to worry about from what we maybe don’t.

By Amy De La Hunt, Health Blogger for SmartParenting

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Amy De La Hunt is a journalist and editor who lives in the St. Louis metro area and works across the country as a writer, copy editor, project manager and editorial consultant on everything from fiction books to monthly magazines to blog posts. When she's not chauffeuring her teenage sons to activities, Amy is an enthusiastic amateur cook, landscaper, Latin dancer and traveler. Follow Amy on Instagram @amy_in_words

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