With September as National Baby Safety Month, Harris County Emergency Corps (HCEC) provides tips for parents to keep their babies safe from illnesses or injuries, especially in the early years of life.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the leading cause of death in babies one month to one year of age. SIDS is the sudden death of an infant that is unexplained after a thorough investigation.
The good news, there are ways to reduce the risk of SIDS and sleep-related causes of infant death:
- Always put your baby to sleep on his or her back.
- Leave blankets and toys outside of the crib.
- Don’t smoke while pregnant and don’t allow anyone to smoke around your infant.
- Try swaddling your child.
- Make sure the crib mattress is firm and tight-fitting.
- Don’t put your baby to sleep on his or her side or stomach.
- Share your room (have the baby sleep in a crib in your room) rather than sharing the bed.
- Don’t overdress your baby or put the crib near a heat source.
- Use a pacifier at sleep time.
A survey by American Baby and Safe Kids Worldwide found that 96 percent of moms say they know the rules for safe sleeping for babies, which includes putting the baby on his/her back in a crib; however only 66 percent follow this advice. Common sleep risks include allowing baby to sleep on the stomach, placing at least one item in the crib and bed sharing. Putting a baby on his or her stomach to sleep is a practice that leaves babies with an increased risk of SIDS. The survey found that 47 percent of moms put their baby on their stomach before the baby turns three months old, despite the fact that the risk of SIDS is highest in the first four months.
Car Seat safety is also extremely important to keeping babies safe. Road injuries are the leading cause of preventable deaths and injuries to children in the United States, according to Safe Kids Worldwide. Using a child seat safely can reduce the risk of death by 71 percent. Specifically, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents to keep their children in a rear-facing seat until the age of two or until they reach the maximum height and weight for the seat.
Safe Kids Worldwide provides a list of recommendations to check your child’s seat:
- Right Seat – Check the label on the seat to make sure it’s appropriate for your child’s age, weight and height. Like milk, car seats have an expiration date.
- Right Place – Kids are VIP’s and we know that all VIP’s ride in the back seat, so keep children in the back until they are 13.
- Right Direction – Keep your child rear-facing until two years old. Make sure to attach the top tether when you move your child to a forward-facing seat.
- Inch Test – The car seat shouldn’t move more than an inch side to side or front to back at the base.
- Pinch Test – With the child buckled in the seat, check the harness by pinching the strap at the shoulder. If you are unable to pinch any excess webbing, you’re good to go.
Parents can also learn how to install a car seat properly for free at HCEC’s next Car Seat Check-Up Event held on Saturday, October 4 from 9am-12noon at Walmart (9235 N. Sam Houston Parkway, Humble, Texas 77396).
During a car seat check-up, technicians will help parents choose the right direction of a car seat, explain what car seat works best for the age and weight of a child, do an inch and pinch test, discuss when it’s time for a booster seat, and provide other tips and tricks along the way.
“We have a passion for helping people,” said Jeremy Hyde, Executive Director for HCEC. “By offering free programs like the Car Seat Check Ups, we are able to give back to the community we serve.”
For more information, call 281-449-3131 or visit the Safe Kids website at safekids.org.
About Harris County Emergency Corps
Harris County Emergency Corps (HCEC) is a nonprofit, EMS provider, responding to 9-1-1 emergency medical calls to approximately 400,000 citizens of Northern Harris County. HCEC is a premier emergency medical services organization committed to preserving lives through clinical excellence, progressive medicine, and professional service. For more information, visit www.hcec.com.