What Dangers Are Lurking In Your Nursery?

As I begin thinking about this topic, the first thing that comes to mind is how dangerous can baby products really be for babies?  The answer is very dangerous indeed if left within reach or not treated with care.    When I began this research I found that if I looked deep enough almost anything can be categorized as a danger.   I wanted to focus on dangers that you may not see as a risk.


Interior of nursery. Frontal view. 3d render.
Interior of nursery. Frontal view. 3d render.

The first hidden risk that I remember being surprised by is baby powder.  It seems to have always been a popular nursery staple.  The problem that is hidden is that it’s tiny particles are easily inhaled as it floats through the air and can irritate baby’s lungs.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against it’s use.

Pregnancy hand-me downs are probably next on this list of hidden dangers.  Outdated furniture often fails to meet current safety standards like drop side cribs for example.  And vintage may be pretty, but not always safe.

Many items marketed for the nursery are not recommended by safety watchdogs. Topping the list are bumper pads and mobiles.   What surprised me most is that it is even hard to find an image of a nursery that does not break the rules according to safety gurus.

About.com lists 5  decorating mistakes that can prove to be dangerous for your little one:  http://nursery.about.com/od/Safety/tp/5-Potentially-Dangerous-Nursery-Decorating-Mistakes.htm

The best suggestions I read came from a blog on babybedding.com.  In in effort to make your nursery user friendly they offer 5 helpful tips.  http://www.babybedding.com/blog/how-to-make-sure-your-nursery-is-functional-as-well-as-beautiful Of course once the baby arrives you made need to make functional adjustments that meet your personal needs.

Of all the rooms in your house to consider childproofing, the nursery is the room where your child will likely spend the most time and be the least supervised.  I suggest you begin there and then work your way through the rest of the house.

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Sleep Safety

It is been all through the news lately about the dangers of letting infants sleep outside of their cribs.  We all know that a sleeping baby is a priceless gem, but there are some risks that we may not all be aware of.

The Safe to Sleep Public Education Campaign has for more than 20 years educated parents and caregivers on the risks of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death.  They advise babies be put to bed on their back on a covered mattress in an area free of additional bedding, pillows or toys.  Learn more at http://www.nichd.nih.gov But many children are left sleeping in car seats, swings, bouncy seats and infant carriers.  What could be the harm in that?

In 2009, a Quebec coroner looked into the death of a 2-year old who had slept the night in his car seat.  His car seat was placed inside his crib and this was done sometimes to ease his colic.  Children sleeping in car seats and other products with restraints are at risk for death by asphyxiation.  With underdeveloped muscular control of infants holding their heads up is sometimes a challenge.  When a baby’s head falls forward or to the side it is possible to block or constrict the airway.  This can be, and has been the case with bouncers and swings as well and was the case in May, 2015 when Leia-Mae Smith’s mother woke to find her daughter in her bouncer not breathing with blue lips. She was later pronounced dead.

In addition to airway constriction by restraints,  a 2009 study found on the American Association of Pediatrics website, “A Comparison of Respiratory Patterns in Healthy Term Infants Placed in Car Safety Seats and Beds,” sites that oxygen level in newborns when studied are lower than levels when a child is placed in a crib.  https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/Car-Seats-Lower-Oxygen-Levels-of-Newborns.aspx The study authors support the use for travel safety, but not as a replacement for cribs.

A point of clarification should be made that these deaths above are example of sleep-related infant death and are not caused by SIDS.  In many of these infant accessory deaths that child dies due to the circumstances in which they were sleeping, meaning that had they been in a different position or location they would likely have survived.  In the case of SIDS, there is no explanation for the sudden death of an otherwise healthy infant.



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Button Batteries- So Small, Yet So Dangerous!

Button batteries seem to be increasing in popularity these days.  They power watches for years at a time and can make your greeting card sing. They are small, but mighty and are a blessing when I need to binge watch House or Criminal Minds.   And they are not just for those of us addicted to Apple TV or Roku.  They can power life saving devices like pacemakers, cardiac defibrillators and hearing aids. With all the good that they can do “cute as a button” cell batteries are making a bigger splash with the rise in fatalities from small children swallowing them.


In 2011, the National Capital Poison Center revealed 3,500 annual cases being reported and 11 deaths in the span of 2005-2011.  There are 7 times the incidents reported now than in 1985 and the introduction of lithium to extend the life of the battery makes swallowing them even more dangerous.

The symptoms of swallowing a button battery can range from not eating and drooling, to hoarseness, coughing, fever and respiratory symptoms.  Don’t adopt the wait and see method on this one.  The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia say  A button battery if swallowed does not present like swallowing a penny.  Button batteries and even more so lithium ones can burn holes in the esophagus and trachea resulting in the need for multiple surguries and in some cases the need for feeding and breathing tubes for the rest of their lives according to Dr. Toby Litovitz of Washington D.C.



For every time you have been irritated by those battery compartments with the screws (and we all have been!)- this is to keep small ones from getting access to those batteries.   But it is not only  children’s games and toys that pose a risk.  Other items to watch out for include: keyless remotes, wireless game controls, remote controls, toys, digital scales, digital thermometers, watches, greeting cards, calculators, and flashing jewelry and shoes.  (www.cpsc.gov) These and other items with button cell batteries should be keep out of reach of infants and toddles.  Consumer Reports and Dr. Litovitz added telephones, cameras, garage door openers, glucose meter, invisible fence dog collars, and flameless candles tot he list.

In a joint statement Energizer and Safe Kids USA issued the following guidelines for parents and care-givers:

  • Examine devices to make sure the battery compartment is secure.
  • Keep button batteries and devices out of kids’ sight and reach.
  • Go to the emergency room immediately if swallowing is suspected.
  • Call the National Battery Ingestion Hotline at 202-625-3333 with any questions


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More Than A Teaspoon Of Water- Beware!

An old adage states that you can drown in as little as a teaspoon of water.  Some don’t believe this is possible.  My research states that it is.  Their are more than a few types of drowning.  The most common three are wet, dry and secondary.  Wet drowning  involves being “in” water, taking as little as a teaspoon of water into your lungs without the ability to expel it would be considered dry drowning and secondary drowning according to Web MD occurs 1-24 hours after the initial incident.

I bring up this topic after hearing of two tragic events in our local news in 2 days. Water can be dangerous and not just for an unbalanced infant in the tub.  So I outline below the dangers of water in different situations and some best practices to implement if you aren’t using them already.

Bathtubs– Old and young alike need to be cautious with the standing water amounts in bathtubs.  During a fall even a small amount of standing water could be enough to drown.  Small children are at an even greater risk when they are unable to right themselves.  Not only should you be vigilant with a child in the tub, but extra cautious with multiple children bathing together as well.  Child supervision does not replace the watchful eye of an adult.

Pools–  I have lived with this “attractive nuisance” with small children and suffered many a nightmare as a result.  Your kids, the neighborhood kids and adventurous teens are all drawn to this backyard oasis.   Safeguarding against a tragedy means you need a good fence, a locked gate and clear rules for anyone at your house about pool use. It takes just a minute of distraction for a tragic accident to occur.  Summer had just begun for a local teen who drown in his apartment complex pool here last Tuesday.  He was 14, but could not swim.  Please be sure that your children are enrolled in regular swim lessons. Start them early and make sure that they master the skill.  You can drown at any age, but a swimmer always has a chance to save themselves.  I have heard from 2 moms recently that they had a close call with finding their child floating face down in a pool unattended- it is not something that I imagine you want to experience twice.

Also be sure to read the article How to Save Your Kid from Drowning from ModernMom.com http://www.modernmom.com/5fbdbdc0-48c3-11e3-87f1-bc764e04a41e.html.  I was amazed to find out that I was totally in the dark on what drowning looks like.

As I am writing this I saw a Facebook post looking to purchase a plastic kiddie pool.  Again, these are tons on fun, but do not leave small children unattended around them and if it is accessible to others dump it out between uses so no one else is at risk.

*I was always hyper vigilant with any babysitter who came to watch my children.   The sun porch could not be used in my absence as it held the door that led to the pool.  And I would only use the pool with another adult present while my children were in it.

Retention Ponds– Here is another attractive nuisance that seems to only be noticed when something horrible happens.  I understand that they serve a valid purpose, but those living and playing near retention ponds must be aware of the dangers.  I believe that working locks, additional locks or door alarms are needed if you have small children or someone mentally disabled and you live on or near a retention pond.  Your local drug store probably sells an inexpensive adhesive door system that triggers an alarm when the door is opened while activated.  You may not realize how important this is until you are searching for someone who is missing.  Save yourself and them by implementing this safety measure in advance.

Lakes– A unnecessary drowning happened last week on the lake where I live.  Lakes are fun to play on, but the laws that govern them are in place for a reason.  This recent tragedy could have been avoided if the boaters that were tubing had been wearing PFD’s (life jackets).

Children who can’t swim well should be wearing life jackets on the boat and when swimming at all times.  Please remember that lakes, unlike pools, mask what is below the surface with their deep and sometimes murky water. That can make jumping in dangerous and searching an even greater challenge.  I have battled this when my children were little and I understand the difficulty, but I am sure the struggle to implement this rule will be worth a life saved.

Summer fun has a lost of positives, but I just want us to all enjoy it safely.





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