Growing up, I always found it interesting how many of my family and friends were born in the month of September. Being a September baby myself, I found this very exciting. According to the Social Security Administration, this wasn’t just the observed coincidence of a 5-year old, but a statistically relevant finding.
The week and a half between September 9th and September 20th contains “9 of the top 10 most common birthdays in America”. That being said, it seems only fitting that September is National Baby Safety Month, seeing as we have so many babies arriving during this month each year!
After eating all the right foods, going to ultimately weekly doctors’ appointments, and making it through labor, new parents find themselves in yet another new situation coming home from the hospital with their precious baby. Often exhausted and unsure what will come next, new parents need as much support as possible. One area in which many new parents find themselves googling is in regards to baby safety. Parents will find themselves searching “is this normal” and/or “what should I do if,” especially when they stumble into a new milestone of their little one’s life.
During this National Baby Safety Month, what are three main ways parents can work to increase the safety of their young child?
Safe Sleeping Environment
One of the best ways to ensure the safety of your baby while sleeping is by making sure they have a safe sleep environment. This means, making sure they are sleeping in an empty sleep space such as a crib or bassinet. The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association instructs, “Remove pillows, sheepskins, pillow-like stuffed toys and products not intended as infant bedding from the crib when infants are sleeping. NEVER place additional padding under an infant.” Another helpful tip is making sure your baby is not overheated. The ideal sleeping temperature for a baby is between 68 and 72 degrees. It can often be easier to tell if a baby is too cold than too hot as the baby will have difficulty staying asleep if they are too cold. Swaddling (before baby can roll) can be a helpful tool, or using a sleep sack can help provide comfort. For more sleep tips, check out this article by the Mayo Clinic.
Making sure your child is safe while traveling is another way to give parents more ease. When entering the third trimester, parents should make sure to pick out and have a (non-expired) car seat properly installed in their car. That way, when they are at the hospital, they won’t have to run out to purchase a car seat or worry about figuring out how to install their car seat. Being prepared in advance will help you to be fully present when your new baby arrives! Many stores and/or fire departments will help you learn how to properly install your car seat. For more information on properly installing your car seat, click here.
When using a baby carrier or stroller, it is important to utilize the correct one for your targeted activity. If you are planning to hike, or go on a rougher terrain, make sure to be using a structured carrier, or stroller that is specifically geared for that type or activity. Similarly, it is important to make sure the carrier you are using is appropriate for the size and age of your child. Newborns’ lack of head control require special precautions when it comes to proper carriers and support. The Juvenile Products Manufactures Association reminds us to make sure your babies face is “Visible and Kissable™”.
In his encyclical Evangelium Vitae, St. John Paul II wrote, “As the domestic church, the family is summoned to proclaim, celebrate, and serve the Gospel of life. This is a responsibility which first concerns married couples, called to be givers of life, on the basis of an ever-greater awareness of the meaning of procreation as a unique event which clearly reveals that human life is a gift received in order then to be given as a gift. In giving origin to a new life, parents recognize that the child ‘as the fruit of their mutual gift of love, is in turn, a gift for both of them, a gift [that] flows from them.” Parents have the beautiful and unique role of taking care of the gift that they have been given from God, raising their child in the fullness of the faith. One of the best ways parents can respond to this gift, is by praying for their children. With the business of life, it can at times be easy to forget to take the time to pray as a family, or pray for the safety (physical, spiritual, and emotional) of their children. Yet, doing this is essential! A beautiful prayer might be praying a daily decade of the rosary with your children. Another idea might be utilizing the St. Michael Center Parents Prayer.
So take advantage of this National Baby Safety Month. Reach out to young parents you might know, or those in your parish, and help support them as they begin their journey of parenting!