Baby Safety: Preventable Injuries are the number one killer

Babies are precious, priceless and fragile little souls. Through parenting education, a baby can safely grow to his full potential in life. By taking a few precautions, your baby can be nurtured in a safe and loving environment.

The number one killer of children, in the United States, is preventable injuries. Nine million children, ages 0-19, are treated in Emergency Departments and nine thousand children die yearly. The leading causes of preventable injuries include falls, choking/strangulation, burns,  drowning, and poisonings.

Babies, newborn to one year of age, are at greatest risk from being shaken especially from ages two to four months. Shaking a baby can cause a “whiplash” effect. This can lead to internal injuries such as bleeding in the brain, blindness, mental retardation, cerebral palsy or death. A person who shakes a baby that perishes needlessly because of Shaken Baby Syndrome can be charged and tried for murder.

Accidental falls are the leading cause of non-fatal injury in all Americans according to the American association of Neurological Surgeons. Babies and toddlers under the age of four are the most susceptible. Head injuries are related to car seats, baby strollers, high chairs and cribs with the most common injuries being skull fractures and hematomas. Never leave your baby alone on a changing table, a bed or sofa. Never leave the baby’s car seat on a table or counter. Always strap your baby in his stroller and high chair. When the baby starts trying to climb out of his crib, it is time to put him in a toddler bed with rails. As soon as the baby can move around, place safety gates on all stairs.

Babies have a compulsive need to teethe, suck and drool on common objects. In non-fatal choking incidents, sixty percent involve food, thirteen percent involve swallowing coins or other small objects and nineteen percent involve candy. Foods at risk include pieces of hot dogs, chunks of cheese, nuts, grapes, popcorn, marshmallows and hard candies. To avoid choking or strangulation, cut foods into tiny pieces. Do not give baby hard foods that can lodge in their trachea. Keep all cords and strings out of babies reach. Do not place cribs or high chairs near windows with blinds that have strings. The strings can get tangled around the baby’s neck. Crawl around the floors at baby’s level and look for small objects that the baby could put in his mouth. Anything that can fit through the tube of a roll of toilet paper can cause choking or suffocation in your baby.

To minimize the risk of Sudden Infant Death (SIDS) put the baby on his back on a firm flat mattress to sleep. Crib sheets need to fit snuggly. Don’t use blankets and don’t put toys, pillows or soft bedding in the crib. If he can’t life his head and rolls into them he can suffocate. If it is cold put the baby in a one piece sleep outfit. Never sleep with a baby in your bed. It is too easy to roll on top of the baby and cause suffocation. Keep a bassinet next to the bed to breastfeed and then put the baby in the bassinet. A baby monitor is good but a camera in the baby’s room is even better so that you can keep watch over the baby when he is asleep in his crib. Consider purchasing the “Summer Infant Day and Night Color Video Monitor with Baby’s Crib Soother”. It glows like a night light and plays nature sounds and lullabies while you keep an eye on your baby. It is available at

Burns are the fourth leading cause of death or serious injury in babies. Baby skin is thinner and burns are more severe at lower temperatures. The greatest dangers for burns are house fires. Smoke detectors should be present in every bedroom and adjacent hallways. Check the batteries and change them yearly. Don’t hold the baby when near the stove or when holding hot drinks. Always unplug dryers and irons and put them away when not in use. Your hot water heater should not be set above 120 degrees in order to reduce the chance of scalding the baby in the tub. Always check the bath water temperature before putting the baby in the tub.

Keep household cleaners, medications and any other possible poisons in locked cabinets and drawers. Post the number for the National Capital Poison Control (800-222-1212) and program the number into your cell phone. Keep a bottle of Ipecac syrup on hand in case you are instructed to administer it to your baby.

By following the above safety precautions, your baby will thrive and grow safely.