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It doesn't take much work to keep a newborn safe. At this age, a baby's too small to get into much trouble on his own. He's not ready to stick buttons in his mouth or climb out of his crib, and it will be quite a few months before he starts toddling toward the stairs.
Still, it's not too early to make safety a top priority. Even before your baby arrives, you can learn how to handle the hidden dangers for newborns.
Here are eight potential dangers and danger zones to watch out for. For more help, see BabyCenter's childproofing checklist and buying guide for childproofing products.
1. The sleep environment
To reduce the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), put your baby to sleep on his back on a firm mattress. Don't let your baby sleep with anything soft and cushy like a pillow, sheepskin, comforter, or plush toy.
A warm one-piece outfit, or sleeper, is a safer choice than a blanket, which could cover your baby's head and restrict his ability to breathe. Crib bumpers are discouraged for the same reason.
Make sure the mattress fits tightly so your baby can't get trapped between it and the side of crib. Check that the crib doesn't have any missing or broken parts or any gaps greater than the width of a soda can.
- Find out more about reducing the risk of SIDS and how to choose the safest bedding and sleepwear for babies.
2. The diapering area
Even the smallest babies can find a way to roll off a changing table if left unattended. Buy a table with safety straps or add straps to your current table.
Even if your baby is strapped onto the table, never leave her alone. (That phone call can wait.)
You can avoid the risk of falling entirely by changing your baby on the floor using a receiving blanket or an unfolded cloth diaper as a changing pad.
- Find out more about childproofing your nursery.
3. Bath time
Whether you wash your baby in a baby bathtub, a sink, or a regular tub, never leave him unattended for a second. Once he's sitting up, a bath seat may seem like a handy safety device, but it can create a false sense of security. Hundreds of babies have drowned after tipping over or slipping out of their bath seats.
- Get more bath safety tips.
4. Heavy or breakable objects
Move objects such as picture frames and ceramic figurines away from the changing table and crib so they can't accidentally fall on your child.
5. Baby furniture in a dangerous spot
Keep cribs and changing tables away from windows, window cords, and hanging mobiles to prevent your child from getting tangled, suffocating, or falling out the window.
- Get more window safety tips.
6. Unstable furniture
Secure tall or unstable pieces of furniture (including flat-screen televisions) to the wall, especially if you live in an earthquake-prone area or have other children (or young visitors) who are climbers.
7. Adult falls
When you have a baby in your arms, a simple trip or fall can be disastrous. To prevent falls, use lots of nightlights, put carpet grips under your rugs, keep clutter off the floor, and fix or install stair railings.
Place functional smoke detectors in each bedroom, in the adjacent hallway, and on each level of your home. If your smoke detectors are more than 10 years old, replace them. It's best to have at least one fire extinguisher on each floor of your house and a carbon monoxide detector next to the sleeping areas