Your baby will rely on you to keep her safe. Of course you’ll have to take more steps to improve your home’s safety once she can move herself, but there are also things you can do before you get her home.
Safety for you and your baby
- have your gas appliances or gas or oil heating checked. Consider fitting carbon monoxide detectors
- keep the stairs clear of clutter – you could easily trip while carrying the baby or while pregnant
- keep a well-stocked first-aid kit in the kitchen or bathroom
- get into the habit of putting medicines, vitamin tablets and other dangerous substances such as oils and cleaning materials out of reach or locked away
- write a list of important numbers (such as doctor, hospital, work) by the phone, or somewhere else easy to find, to use in an emergency
- fit fireguards on all fires
- know how you and your family can leave the house safely and quickly if there’s a fire
- plan your escape and make sure the whole family knows what to do and practise it
- place non-slip mats under rugs or unfitted carpets
- some local authorities have home safety offices – you can get the number in the telephone book. Your health visitor should also be able to advise on home safety.
Safety in the car
When travelling in any car with your baby, they must be secured in a correctly-sized car seat, even for a short trip or in a taxi. Some taxi firms will provide car seats on request but you will need to check with them beforehand. Some hospitals will not allow parents to leave in a car after the birth without demonstrating that they have an infant carrier so it’s important to plan this ahead of time. Never carry your baby on your lap.
When it comes to choosing a car seat you’ll need to decide between a rear-facing seat and combination seat which can be turned once your baby is bigger. It is particularly important that you know how to fit the seat properly in the car. If you are buying an infant carrier ask for a demonstration from the sales assistant or see www.childcarseats.org.uk for more information.
General safety advice
- never ever shake a baby – it can cause brain damage and even be fatal
- don’t have a hot drink while holding a baby as it could spill and cause scalding – and don’t let visitors do it either. Hot drinks are the cause of most scalding injuries with babies
- always bear in mind that other people’s houses may not be baby-proofed.
- your local fire and rescue service will provide free advice about fitting fire alarms, they may even supply them
- when travelling in a car with your baby, it is illegal not to have a properly fitted car seat in a car you own, or in someone else’s.