As a new parent, taking your newborn baby home for the very first time can be a daunting prospect. Your new top priority is keeping your bundle of joy out of harm’s way so it’s understandable to be slightly anxious about their safety when they arrive.
The best way to instil peace of mind is to prepare your home with plenty of time to spare and ensure you’ve read through the latest advice from leading experts such as Rednose. We’ve summarised some key safety advice below to get you started…
Keeping Your Baby Safe During Travel
Although not strictly in the home, it’s important to consider your baby’s safety on your trip back from hospital. Rearward-facing car seats are said to provide the best protection for baby’s head, neck and spine vs forward-facing car seats.
Experts suggest you should avoid traveling for long distances with pre-term and young babies. If your baby is aged between 4-6 weeks, then it is recommended that you travel for less than 30 minutes. If your baby is older, then it is advised that you travel for no longer than 2 hours.
If you need to travel longer distances, then you must take regular breaks where you take your little one out of their car seat to give them stretching time and allow them to move around.
If possible, a second adult should travel in the back of the car with baby or, if you’re unable to do this, then you can use a mirror to keep a close eye on your baby. If they change position and slump forward then it’s important to stop safely, take them out of the car seat and sit them upright before continuing with your journey.
For more tips on choosing a car seat, you can read this helpful article on car seat safety from Rednose.
Keep Your Newborn Close By
There are several considerations to make when preparing your newborn baby’s sleeping space. The NHS advise that the safest place for a new baby to sleep is in their own cot or crib in the parents’ bedroom for 6-12 months. A bedside sleeper with slatted or mesh sides is perfect, as it allows you to tend to baby from your own bed, offers plenty of visibility and is a more compact size.
Set Up a Safe Nursery
When your baby moves into their nursery, they’ll need a cot or cot bed. You’ll want to ensure the cot bed (and mattress) you opt for meets current safety standards (AS/NZS 2172-2003 for cot beds and AS/NZS 8811.1:2013 for mattresses).
The mattress you use must fit the cot exactly with no excessive gaps, so if you’re unsure on which mattress you need then we’d advise contacting the manufacturer of your cot as, once you’ve opened the mattress packaging, you’ll likely be unable to return it due to hygiene reasons. Boori cots and cot beds have a sticker on the base advising which mattress size you require, so please do keep an eye out for this if you’ve purchased one of our products.
Fitted sheets and mattress protectors should fit snugly around the mattress and blankets should be tucked in tightly. Avoid quilts, thick blankets and pillows until babies are at least 12 months old and only use cushions and toys as decorations when baby isn’t in the cot. It’s best to avoid traditional cot bumpers as these can reduce airflow and are often attached to the side rails with ribbon or Velcro, which could pose a danger to your baby.
Safety in the Nursery
You’ll spend a lot of time on the floor in the nursery with your baby - during tummy time, whilst they’re learning to crawl and during play time!
In any case, it’s important to keep any dangers out of the way of grabby hands. This can include small toys, choking hazards, curtain ties and hanging décor including fairy lights.
Some rugs can also pose a safety risk to little ones. Try to avoid shaggy or high pile rugs as the fibres can be disturbed and potentially breathed in. Instead choose short pile rugs or an activity mat specifically designed for crawling babies and toddlers.
Using a Sling Correctly
If used correctly, slings can be perfectly safe for carrying your baby. To keep your little one safe and comfortable, it’s important to follow the T.I.C.K.S rule:
Tight - The sling should be tight with your baby placed high and upright with support for their head. Any loose fabric could result in baby slipping down which may restrict their breathing.
In View - Your baby must always be in view. You should be able to see your baby’s face by simply looking down. Ensure baby’s face, nose and mouth remain uncovered by your body and the sling.
Close Enough to Kiss - Your baby should be close enough that if you tip your head forward, you can easily kiss them on the top of the head.
Keep Chin off the Chest - Make sure your baby’s chin is up and positioned away from its body. They should never be curled up, so the chin is forced not the chest. Regularly check on your baby.
Supported Back - Baby’s back should be supported in a natural position with its tummy and chest against you. If you bend forward then you must support baby with one hand behind its back and make sure you bend at the knees, not the waist.
Family Hygiene and Safety
To help limit the chances of your little one from catching any nasty bugs, ensure all family and friends who visit for a snuggle are fit and well with no sniffles or contagious illnesses. Even a cold sore can pose a serious threat to babies.
It’s also important that those who do come over for a cuddle wash their hands thoroughly before touching your baby and, during the early stages, it’s probably best to keep pets out the way to avoid any ‘kisses’!
Safety During Mealtimes
When it comes to weaning your baby, you’ll want to make sure you have a safe and sturdy highchair.
You’ll want to ensure it has a triangular structure for stability and a 5-point safety belt to keep even the wriggliest of babies secure during mealtimes.
When your baby is eating solid foods, make sure food is cut into very small pieces and avoid overly hard foods. Grapes are particularly dangerous and should be cut lengthways.
Small babies don’t tend to move too much during changing but it’s still important to use a baby changer with raised edges like our 3 Tier Changer.
As they get older, they’ll become more mobile and changing them up high will pose more of a risk. When this happens, you may want to consider a sturdy change pad that can be placed directly onto the floor.
This article is designed to give you a confidence boost and help you feel more prepared in getting your home ready for your new arrival. There are so many helpful guides on the Rednose website to help you baby-proof your home but if you have any questions regarding the preparation of your nursery then please don’t hesitate to contact us.