Baby Gear Dangers

by admin

Baby Gear Dangers

Cribs, car seats, strollers: They make life easier, but nearly 60,000 children are injured by them and other gear every year, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Here are a few simple fixes to help protect your child.

by Molly Lyons

Surprisingly, this number doesn’t even include kids injured in crashes who were sitting in incorrectly installed car seats. That’s right — thousands of children are hurt each year in car seats that aren’t even in the car, almost always by falls and tip-overs. Carriers pose the same risks.

To keep your child safe:

  • Don’t put infant car seats or carriers on high surfaces (such as tables or counters) or a bed, sofa, or other soft surface, where they can easily tip over. Keep the car seat or carrier on the floor instead.

  • Make sure the arm of the seat or carrier is locked into place and that your baby is secure in the safety belts before picking up the carrier.

  • To be certain your child’s car seat is also used correctly in the car, check out our car-seat safety guide.

    A child can fall out if the stroller or carriage tips over, or be pinched if it collapses with him inside. More rarely, kids have been strangled when they’ve wiggled down and gotten their heads caught in a leg opening.

    To keep your child safe:

  • Before you buy or use a stroller, push it around to see how stable it is.

  • Buckle your child in — every time.

  • If the seat reclines, check that the stroller doesn’t tip back when he lies down. And don’t hang anything on the handles — even lightweight bags.

  • If the stroller has a grab bar at the front of the seat, make sure any gaps can be closed up when the stroller is in the reclined position.

  • Keep the stroller locked in the open position when your child is in it so it won’t accidentally fold up on him.

  • Always lock the brakes when you’re parked, and never leave your child alone in the stroller.
  • Most often, kids choke on loose parts, fall between the mattress and crib wall, or get body parts stuck between slats (if you can fit a soda can through the slats, the openings are too big).

    To keep your child safe:

  • Check for cracked or peeling paint, splinters, and rough edges, especially on hand-me-downs. Also look out for loose or broken slats or screws.

  • Measure to be sure the slats are no more than 2 3/8 inches apart. Skip cribs with decorative cutouts on the headboard or footboard, as they can trap little limbs and heads.

  • Be sure corner posts are less than 1/16 inch high to prevent bedclothes from getting hooked on them and causing strangulation.

  • See that the mattress fits snugly, with no more than two fingers’ width between the edge and the crib.

  • Never place the crib near a window with draperies or blinds with long cords. It’s a strangulation risk.
  • Kids can tip over, fall out, slip and be strangled by the waist belt, or get stuck between the tray and the seat.

    To keep your child safe:

  • Select a chair with a wide base (give it a good shove to see if it stays upright) and posts that go between the child’s legs. Check it for sharp edges or protrusions.

  • Always put the chair in the locked position before putting your child in it.

  • Buckle the crotch and waist straps to prevent him from sliding down or out; the tray won’t keep him safe.

  • Keep the chair far enough away from the table, counter, or wall that your child can’t push off from it.

  • Don’t stray far from the chair when he’s in it, and keep older children from playing near it or hanging on it.
  • Babies wiggle or roll off the changing tables and tumble to the floor, often while moms are reaching for the diapers or wipes. Babies are particularly at risk of falling around 7 months of age, when they start to roll over.

    To keep your child safe:

  • Always use the safety straps to buckle your baby into the changing pad. If your changing tray is on top of a dresser, be sure they attach to each other securely with straps or brackets.

  • Pick the right pad. If the table or tray itself doesn’t have raised sides, the pad should.

  • Keep one hand on your baby at all times, even though you’re using the safety straps. Stash supplies like diapers and ointments within easy reach.
  • As with car seats and carriers, babies in bouncer seats are injured by falling from high surfaces. The unit’s motion causes the seat to edge right off counters and tables. Less frequently, injuries occur when parents mistake the toy bar for a handle and try to pick up the seat that way — causing the seat to break and the baby to fall.

    To keep your child safe:

  • Don’t place bouncer seats on high surfaces, and avoid putting the seat on soft surfaces such as couches and beds — they allow the baby to tip over easily. If you must place the seat there momentarily, stay within arm’s reach.

  • Use both hands to pick up the seat by its base or handle (as opposed to holding its toy bar) so the unit doesn’t break in midair while your baby is in it.

  • Always supervise your child while she’s in the seat.
  • Kids push gates over and fall down the stairs. Rarely, a child can stick her head through an older (pre-1986), accordion-style gate with diamond-shape gaps and be strangled.

    To keep your child safe:

  • Correctly install gates at the top and bottom of stairs. (A bottom gate is more important than many parents think — it keeps little kids from climbing up and then falling back down.)

  • Never use pressure-bar gates at the top or bottom of stairs; kids can easily push them down. Where you do use them (between the kitchen and the living room, for instance), be sure the bar is on the side away from your child so she can’t use it as a toehold to climb over the gate.

  • Avoid hand-me-down accordion-type gates. If any gate has openings, they should be too small for a child’s head to fit through.
  • Babies are hurt when they fall from swings that parents are trying to carry. Also, they sometimes get trapped between the swing’s seat bottom and its tray. Less often, a child will lean out of the seat and hit his head against the swing’s legs.

    To keep your child safe:

  • Don’t carry the swing while your baby is in it — especially while it’s in motion. The seat can shift and your baby can fall.

  • Make sure the swing’s straps are secure around your baby so he can’t slide down and get trapped between the seat and the tray.

  • Never leave your child alone while he’s in the swing.
  • Kids can fall into the mesh sides and be suffocated. Top rails on older-design playpens can fold unexpectedly.

    To keep your child safe:

  • Never leave your baby in a mesh playpen with the drop-side down. The slack mesh can create a pocket where she could fall and suffocate against the side of the mattress.

  • If the playpen folds up, be sure the hinge in the top rails locks automatically. Those that don’t lock on their own can collapse and trap a baby’s neck, and are not recommended.

  • Molly Lyons also writes health articles for Self, Prevention, and Redbook.