Keeping Baby Safe: your most important role as a parent

by : Claire Bowes

Saying Thanks, But No Thanks to Used Safety Equipment

Once your beautiful bundle of joy arrives, the work of raising your child really begins. The biggest job you have as a parent is keeping your baby safe. Yet, it is impossible to watch over your children twenty-four hours a day.

Thankfully, there are many safety products available to keep them from getting hurt. These products include safety gates, outlet covers, oven and table bumpers, doorknob covers, bed rails, locks and guards, and many more. As a parent, you need to use products that are one step ahead of their children's abilities, and can do so by getting down on their level and looking around. This gives you a child's eye perspective of child safety issues in your home.

But with so many products to buy and so many different brand names, how do you decide what products you need most? The best thing to do when it comes to safety is buy new products rather than used ones. An older, used product may have been recalled due to dangerous safety issues, or it may be damaged from previous use. Although hand-me-downs are great for clothes and toys, your child’s safety is just too important to leave to chance. Babies R Us is a great place to find all the safety products you need.

That still leaves the issue of how to choose between one safety gate, for instance, and another. Here are some purchasing tips for some of the more popular safety items you will need for your baby.

Car Seats

More children are seriously injured and killed in auto accidents than in any other type of accident. Each year, hundreds of lives could be saved if children were protected in cars by using child safety seats. Using a child safety seat is the best protection you can give your child when traveling by car.

When purchasing a car seat, look for:

  • Label states that it meets or exceeds the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards;

  • Is the car seat appropriate for your child's height and weight?

  • Be aware of the type of seat belts your car has; all car seats are not compatible with all seat belts;

  • Check recent car seat recalls before making a purchase;

  • Be sure that the seat you choose fits your child - a smaller baby can slip out of a seat that's too large. Infants one year or younger and up to 20 pounds must be placed in a rear-facing seat, toddlers (older than 1 year and between 20 and 40 pounds) may use a forward-facing seat, and children who are between 40 and 80 pounds need to be placed in a booster seat;

  • Consider choosing a seat that is upholstered in fabric - it may be more comfortable for your child.

Safety Gates

Baby safety gates are an essential element in making your home baby proof. Now that he's on the move, every nook and cranny is a potential area of exploration for him. Your baby is curious about his new environment, wanting to investigate each little corner and new room. The best way to make sure he can't do any harm to himself is to install safety gates. These will prevent him from reaching the stairs, kitchen, or an office room, where there might be many wires and electrical equipment just at his height

Accordion gates, which open to form diamond-shaped patterns with wide V's at the top, can trap a baby's head and have resulted in strangulation deaths. In January 1985, gate manufacturers halted production of these gates, but there are still an estimated 15 million gates in use. Mesh gates also can be dangerous because a toddler's fingers can become trapped.

When purchasing a safety gate, look for the following:

  • A hardware-mounted gate that attaches to the doorframe without any openings to trap fingers or necks. Pressure-mounted gates should not be used between rooms of different levels or at the top of stairs; children can dislodge them and take a tumble.

  • Gates that swing out should never be used at the top of stairways;

  • Nonflexible vertical slats or rods should be no more than 2 3/8 inches apart;

  • Check for sharp edges and protrusions that could hurt a toddler's hands;

  • Avoid gates with structures that could give a child a foothold for climbing. Keep large toys away from the gate to prevent a child from using them to climb over;

  • The gate should be no less than 3/4 of the child's height


These high-sided, enclosed play areas are popular because they allow parents to put their baby down with the knowledge that he can't wander off. It is great when you have to answer the phone, do a bit of ironing, or just catch a quick breath!

When purchasing a playpen, look for the following:

  • Holes in the mesh should be no larger than 1/4 inch to keep small fingers from getting caught;

  • The sides should be at least 20 inches high, measured from the floor of the playpen;

  • Look for padding on the tops of the rails to protect your baby from bumps;

  • The locks that allow you to lower a side should be out of your baby's reach.

Baby Monitors

The idea behind a baby monitor is that you can have the ability to move around the house or your yard and still be able to keep tabs on your baby by listening or now viewing your baby. This can help alert you to a crying baby, a baby who needs your help or just help you watch baby while he or she sleeps.

The baby/nursery monitor that you buy will have different levels of mobility. The base usually plugs into the wall, usually the nursery or wherever your baby is sleeping. The receiver can plug in or be mobile. If you intend to use the monitor as you move from room to room, you will want to invest in the mobile kind, versus the stationary variety.

When purchasing a baby monitor, look for the following:

  • There should be at least two channels to choose from;

  • Be sure that you have a low battery indicator light. Without this you might be listening to the receiver, thinking all is quiet in the baby's room, when in fact all you've got is a dead battery;

  • Has a power-on light so that you can know the unit is on without disturbing the baby;

  • Has a volume control to put you in charge of how loudly you wish to hear your baby;

  • Are you planning to carry around your end of the monitoring system? Then you might want a belt clip!

Bath Seats

A bath seat gives your child added support while in the bathtub and can help prevent a soapy baby from slipping out of your hands and hitting her head on the tub. Keep in mind, however, that you should NEVER leave your child unattended in the tub!

When purchasing a bath seat, look for the following:

  • Never use a bath seat on textured or non-skid surfaces unless the manufacturer’s instructions specifically state the seat is intended for such surfaces;

  • Look for the JPMA Certification Seal.

Always remember, no matter what safety product you are buying, to look at the features to be sure they meet your specific requirements. Also check to be sure that the product you are considering has not recently been recalled. The safety of your child is of utmost importance – don’t leave it to chance!