By Raising Children Network
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Keeping a tiny little newborn safe can seem like a big responsibility. But it isn’t as scary as it might seem. From day one, you can help protect your precious new cargo by following a few safety basics and creating a safe environment.
Happy baby being dried after a bath

Did you knowQuestion mark symbol

Even though newborns are largely immobile until about three months of age, they do wriggle and roll involuntarily. This is why it's important to keep one hand on them whenever they are on a surface above the ground.
 

The reality is that your newborn will not be very mobile until about three months, which helps ease you into your new safety-monitoring role. But even before then, accidents can – and do – happen. When you’re only sleeping a few hours a night, you can easily lose your grip on common sense. So having a few sensible personal safety rules can really help.

Safety basics

Here are some tips to help you prevent the most common mishaps at this age:

  • Keep one hand on baby whenever baby is on an elevated surface, such as a change table or bed. This will stop baby falling or wriggling off.
  • Always test that bath water temperature is approximately 36°C (between 37°C and 38°C for an older child) before placing baby in the bath. Stay with baby the whole time. Read more about bath safety.
  • Check that baby is in a safe sleeping position and environment, whether at home or out and about, with no risk of suffocation or strangulation.
  • Give baby a safe environment for any car travel, with a properly fitted baby restraint that you use at all times.

Many of these hazards will continue throughout the whole of early childhood. Others will emerge as your child grows and explores.

Safe feeding

  • A bottle propped and left in a newborn’s mouth can be dangerous, because baby can inhale milk. If something needs your attention in the middle of a feed, ask for help or take the bottle with you. You might want to also read about the dangers of giving babies a bottle in bed.
  • Avoid nursing your baby and drinking a hot drink at the same time. Make sure friends and relatives do the same.
Read more about how you can prevent scalds and burns.

Safe clothes and safe sleeping

  • Use clothes without ribbons, strings or ties around the neck. Take off any bibs or hooded clothes before putting baby to bed.
  • Propping your baby’s dummy in place is dangerous. Babies can’t spit dummies out if they have trouble breathing, and they could suffocate.
  • It’s better to lose a dummy than attach it to your baby’s clothes with ribbon or string. These could strangle baby.
  • Take cot bumpers, pillows, fluffy toys and other soft things out of cots. These are unnecessary for your baby’s comfort and increase the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
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For more information, read our nine tips for safe sleeping

Safety around the house

  • Avoid cooking when holding the baby, either in your arms or in a sling. Baby could easily be burned.
  • Smoking and nursing a baby is dangerous. As well as the risk of burns, the smoke can damage baby’s health, and smoking around babies has been linked to increased risk of SIDS. If you can’t give up smoking, smoke somewhere away from the baby and ask other people to do the same.
  • To guard against strangling and suffocation, dispose of all plastic wrapping in the home as soon as possible. Knot any plastic bags you intend to keep. Make sure plastic is removed from cot or bassinette mattresses.
  • Although newborns aren’t very mobile, if you leave your baby on a raised surface in a bouncinette, baby capsule or baby seat, it’s possible for baby to wriggle over the edge and fall. If babies have to be up high, keep an eye on them.
You can also read more tips on making your home safe for baby. 

Out and about

  • Look for a baby carrier with an adjustable shoulder harness and a waist and crotch strap that you can keep snug. Make sure there’s no room for your baby to fall out.
  • Babies can fall out of strollers or buggies even before they are mobile. To prevent this, make sure baby is securely strapped into the pram or stroller.
  • Don’t leave your baby in the car, even if you’re just popping into a shop for a few seconds. It’s like leaving baby in an oven – the temperature rises very quickly, even on a cool day. Babies can become distressed and dehydrate extremely quickly. This can happen even if you are with them in a parked car on a hot day.
  • In baby capsules, always put babies on their backs. Keep the space between the liner and your baby clear. Accessories such as head supports, lambskin liners and padded mattresses might interfere with the safe working of the restraint and are not necessary for your baby’s comfort.
  • If your restraint has a velcro body band, place this firmly around your baby’s chest and stomach with baby’s arms free. Keep the velcro free from fluff and lint, because lint causes separation. If the velcro separates, baby could slip out in an accident.
Read more tips on keeping baby safe in the car
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  • Last Updated 31-05-2010
  • Last Reviewed 31-05-2010