Baby Safety at Home

Babies and toddlers have that sneaky tendency to get into all kinds of mischief, but it’s our job to keep them safe. Here is the baby safety information you need to make sure your living space is ready for your baby.

  • Cover all unused electrical sockets so your baby doesn’t try to put her fingers in them.
  • Remove rubber tips from doorstops. Your baby could try to put them in her mouth.
  • Hide cords for blinds and electrical appliances (or place them out of reach). They are a strangulation hazard.
  • Place protective padding over sharp corners, like the edges of the fireplace or coffee table, where babies and toddlers could injure themselves.
  • Install safety latches on all doors and cabinets. Store medicines and cleaning products only in cabinets your baby won’t be able to reach.
  • To keep them from falling, secure heavy items like TVs onto furniture.
  • Install safety gates at the top and bottom of the stairs.
  • Set your water heater to 125°F to prevent your baby from accidentally getting burned.
  • Make sure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working.
  • Put emergency numbers (e.g., your pediatrician’s and poison control center’s) near each phone for easy access.

Just as important, remember to share these baby safety tips with other family members or friends who your baby might be visiting often. This way, they’ll be able to make their homes safer for your little one too.

Photo by Khoa Pham on Unsplash

Teach Your Child How to Eat With Utensils

It was cute when your baby first started using his fingers to eat on his own -- and consequently ended up getting food on his face, in his hair, and even in a little circle on the floor around his high chair.

But once your little one’s reached toddlerhood and you’re still picking pieces of spaghetti off the wall, it’s time to make a change. This part of his early childhood development may seem like it will never come -- but it will!

By age 2, your child has the motor skills to use a utensil and drink from a cup using one hand. That’s not to say your attempts at civilized mealtime will always go smoothly: Even if your child likes the idea of using a grown-up fork and spoon, he might sometimes be too hungry or tired to feel like bothering.

Here are some tips to help keep your child on track:

Lead by example. You might not always be able to eat with your child, but share meals as often as possible so he can watch how you eat with a utensil. It won’t be long before he will want to try to copy you.

Be consistent. Give your child utensils at every meal once he’s developed the skills to use them, even if he isn’t interested in using them yet. Over time, he’ll start to get the idea that this is just how big people eat.

Don’t force it. On the days when he’s just not interested in his spoon or fork, don’t pick a battle. Fighting with your child over this issue will just cause a power struggle … and make mealtime unhappy for everyone.

Be patient and stick with the routine. Before you know it, you’ll have a proper little gentleman dining with you at the dinner table!

What You Need to Know About Well-Baby Visits

Well-child visits to your pediatrician provide you with an opportunity to raise any questions you may have about your infant’s development, behavior, and well-being, without the added stress of cramming everything into one visit when your baby is under the weather.

Your baby’s first exam will take place immediately after she’s born, and exams will continue at frequent intervals throughout her first year. During these visits, be sure you and your pediatrician go over the following information:

  • Your baby’s growth. Is her weight on track? What about her measurements and the size of her head? Have your pediatrician track these on a graph and show you your baby’s growth in relation to that of other infants.

  • Your baby’s mouth. Your pediatrician can check for any infection or signs of teething.

  • Your baby’s soft spot. Your infant’s soft spot will be open and flat for the first few months, and by 2 or 3 months, it will begin to close. The front soft spot should be completely closed before she turns 2 years old. Keep track of this aspect of your infant’s development at these visits.

  • Your baby’s hips and legs. Have your pediatrician move your baby’s legs to check for any problems with hip joints, including dislocation or dysplasia of the hip joint.

  • Your baby’s ears and eyes. Make sure your doctor looks inside your baby’s ears, and be ready to discuss any abnormalities you may have noticed with your baby’s hearing, or questions you have about that aspect of her development. The same goes for her vision. Your doctor should shine a bright object or flashlight to catch your baby’s attention and track her eye movements.

  • Your baby’s genitals. At each visit, your pediatrician should check your baby’s genitals for any unusual growths, tenderness, or signs of infection.

  • Your baby’s vital organs. At your well-baby visits, the doctor should check the front and back of your baby’s chest to listen for her heart and lungs. He can also place his hand on your baby’s abdomen and gently press to check that none of her organs are enlarged.

Keep in mind that well-baby visits are also an excellent time to discuss any concerns or questions you have about your infant’s development, especially pertaining to milestones.

To make the most of both your and your pediatrician’s time, it’s a good idea to write down your top questions and bring them with you. It’s easy to get distracted by other topics once you’re in the office, but having the list with you will help you stay on track.

Toddlers and Imaginary Play

Location: Indoor or out

Promotes: Cognitive development

Props: A cardboard box and old clothes for starters (additional props are optional, depending on the type of play you intend to suggest) 

How to play
Help your toddler or preschooler fly like a superhero with pet tigers, all without leaving the safety of his bedroom. It’s easy to feed your toddler’s imagination through simple props and toys. All you have to do is skip the bells and whistles and go for old-school objects. For example, a giant cardboard box can become a rocket ship or even a makeshift canoe.

Old clothes add another fun dimension to pretend play: They can be transformed into any number of things, like a doctor’s uniform or a businessman’s outfit.

Tricks and advice

Resist the urge to become too involved or fact-driven in your toddler’s pretend play routine. The essential idea behind imaginary play is that it allows your child to let his imagination roam.

If you’d like to help him develop new ways to pretend, try giving him a simple suggestion or genre of play, then let him take it from there. For example, you could suggest that he pretend he’s just received some happy news. Ask him how he would react and then let your toddler take it away.

Another fun idea is to come up with an alternative story line for your toddler’s favorite movie or book. Part of this toddler play would involve coming up with new characters and plotlines. You could even write down the new story as you act it out, adding additional developmental skills to his playtime.

Whatever you offer, keep it as simple as possible, and follow your child’s lead to get the most out of the play.

Learning and growing

Imaginary worlds allow toddlers to try out different outcomes and organize their emotions based on those outcomes. Pretend play is a great way for your child to act out make-believe scenarios and practice reactions that can then be reapplied in real life. Encourage your child to continue with his imaginary play by introducing new props from time to time.

Reaching Milestones: When Babies Roll Over

Your baby rolling over is her first way of moving around on her own, and it’s just a preview of the exciting motor developments soon to come, like crawling, standing, and walking. Find out when your baby will take her first roll, plus how to keep your little tumbler safe.

When will your baby roll over?
She could roll herself from back to front as early as 3 months, though she might not be able to reverse the move from front to back until about 6 months of age. Anything in between is considered normal motor development.

If your baby hasn’t started rolling yet, watch for these signs, which indicate that she could start very soon: First, she’ll begin using her arms to arch her back and lift her chest. She’ll also start to rock on her stomach and kick her legs, and she might even try to make little swimming motions with her arms.

This is a very exciting time for both you and your baby, as she puts all her energy into these efforts and you encourage her. When she finally succeeds, it will be a thrilling and strong bonding moment for both of you.

If you want to help encourage your baby to roll over, there are plenty of things you can do:

1.    Use the power of eye-catching baby toys. You can place a few of your baby’s favorites just out of reach to encourage her to move toward them. 

2.    Remember tummy time. By spending time on her stomach, your baby will work to push on her arms and arch her back to lift her head and chest. These are important motor development skills and muscle-building activities that eventually lead to rolling.

3.    Be enthusiastic! Your baby will respond to the excitement in your voice and your happy expression when she does something right, so stay upbeat.

All these movements strengthen your baby’s body, preparing her to roll over for the very first time. It’s your job to be ready when she does, so always keep a close eye on her when she’s on a high surface, like the bed or her changing table. Otherwise, she might try to scoot right off.

Once your baby rolls over for the first time, there’s no stopping her! Rolling is usually the precursor to crawling -- but some babies love rolling so much, they opt to do it (or other movements like scooting or slithering) over crawling.

Finally, an important note about motor development: Most babies start rolling by the time they reach the 6-month mark. If yours hasn’t, check in with your pediatrician to make sure everything’s on track. Every baby develops at her own speed, but double-checking with the doctor and sharing your concerns is always a good idea.

Photo by João Victor Fonseca on Unsplash