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I read a wonderful article in Parents magazine about keeping kids safe by choosing the proper helmet for them.  Apparently buying a high-quality bicycle helmet, and making sure that it fits correctly, protects your child a great deal more than just putting any old helmet on him.  Here are a few links that I thought you might find useful, as you protect your precious child’s precious head:

Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute  www.bhsi.org     Look for “A Buyer’s Guide to Bicycle Helmets” and “How to Fit a Helmet.”

Safe Kids Worldwide   www.safekids.org     Find information on preventing airway obstructions, falls, fires, burns, poisoning, and drowning.  There’s also information on bicycle safety and car safety.

Now I know how to protect Paulie when he gets his first little tricycle!  🙂 🙂

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There is a great deal that you can do to reduce your child’s risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).  Here’s what to do to keep your baby safe at bedtime:

1.  Put him to sleep on his back.  Every time.  And make sure that anyone else who watches your child does the same!  20% of SIDS deaths occur when a child is in the care of someone other than his parents.  Babies who are used to sleeping on their backs, but then are placed on their stomachs to sleep, are at a severely increased risk from dying of SIDs.  Remind all of your child’s caregivers to put him to sleep on his back!  If you want to leave a reminder for your child’s babysitter, Prince Lionheart offers a sleep sack that has “Back to Sleep” embroidered on the front.  Be sure to remind them in person, as well.

2.  Give your child a pacifier at bedtime, and also every time she takes a nap.  The Children’s National Medical Center did a major review of the existing studies of pacifier use, and determined that giving your baby a pacifier every time she goes to sleep significantly reduces her risk of SIDS.  If she spits out the first pacifier you give her, try offering her a different brand.  If you’re breastfeeding, wait until your child is one month old before giving her a pacifier.

3.  Don’t let your baby get overheated!  First Candle reports that overheating is a leading risk factor for SIDS.  Dr. Sears reports that, “Overheating may disrupt the normal neurological control of sleep and breathing” (http://www.askdrsears.com/html/10/t102100.asp#T102101).  Keep the room where your baby sleeps at about 68 degrees Farenheit, and keep the humidity level at 60-70%  (If your baby is premature or is less than eight pounds, he may need you to turn up the heat a bit).  Your baby should sleep with his head uncovered, and should wear the same number of layers that you’re wearing.  For a thorough discussion of regulating your baby’s temperature in order to prevent SIDS, see the Dr. Sears link above.  Dr. Sears also describes how to determine if your baby is too hot or too cold.  I plan to put Paulie in breathable muslin while he sleeps.  Aden & Anais offers swaddling blankets and sleep sacks in super-soft muslin.  Cotton is a good choice, too.

4.  Don’t smoke, and don’t let your baby be exposed to secondhand smoke.  This applies both before and after your baby’s birth– so all you preggers moms, stay away from secondhand smoke!

5.  Get good prenatal care, and make sure that you get enough iron while you’re pregnant.  See http://www.askdrsears.com/html/10/t102100.asp#T102101 for an explanation of the link between anemia in the pregnant mother and an increased risk of SIDS for the baby.

6.  Turn on your ceiling fan.  This prevents carbon dioxide from builing up around your baby.

7.  Breastfeed!  Breastfeeding significantly reduces your baby’s risk of SIDS.

8.  Have your baby sleep near you.  Put her crib near your bed! 

Additional safe sleep guidelines– the following guidelines prevent suffocation:

9.  Don’t put any loose blankets in the crib.  Put your child in a sleep sack instead of covering her with blankets.  Halo, Prince Lionheart, Aden and Anais, and other companies offer sleep sacks.  Be sure to choose a sleep sack that is sleeveless!  Some experts speculate that a child wearing a sleep sack that has long sleeves (such as those made out of microfleece) could end up with an arm over her face, and suffocate.  So put your baby in snug-fitting, cotton outfit (long sleeves are fine here) topped off by a sleeveless sleep sack. 

10.  Your baby’s crib should be bare.  This means no stuffed animals, no pillows, no blankets, and no cushiony bumper pad.  Skip the crib bedding set all together– the quilt is not safe, and the bumper is not safe, either!  If you want to put a bumper in your child’s crib to prevent him from sticking his arms and legs between the crib slats, choose one made of breathable mesh.  First Candle recommends the crib bumper made by BreatheableBaby.

11.  Stay away from sleep positioners!  They pose a suffocation risk.  Remember, bare cribs are best! 

Let’s do everything we can to keep our babies safe!