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5 Steps Caregivers Need to Take Today to Keep Baby Safe

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(BPT) - Any parent or caregiver knows there is an endless array of baby and nursery products for little ones. However, when choosing a safe sleep space, many people are unaware that some of these products can be dangerous, or even deadly, to infants and young children.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's (CPSC) most recent report on nursery product injuries and deaths shows that cribs/mattresses, playpens/play yards, bassinets/cradles, infant carriers and inclined infant sleep products were associated with 83 percent of the fatalities reported. Most of these nursery product-related deaths are due to asphyxiation, resulting from a cluttered or hazardous sleep environment. The sleep area is often cluttered with extra bedding, such as pillows, blankets, padded crib bumpers, comforters and plush toys.

In a new public safety announcement, CPSC encourages parents, caregivers and daycare providers to get “Back to Basics,” to create a safe sleep environment for babies. Child safety is important year-round, not just during September Baby Safety Month. CPSC urges people to take five simple steps to reduce infant injuries and deaths associated with nursery products and other at-home risks.

1. “Back to Sleep” means placing babies on their backs.

Adults should always place babies to sleep on the baby’s back, to reduce the risk of sudden unexpected infant death syndrome (SUID/SIDS) and suffocation. Babies should not sleep in nursery products that are not designed for, or do not meet, standards for safe sleep, such as certain inclined sleepers, travel and compact bassinets and in-bed sleepers which have been linked to dozens of infant deaths.

In June 2021, the CPSC approved a new, more stringent rule requiring manufacturers to meet a federal safety standard for infant sleep products. Beginning in mid-2022, this new federal safety standard will help eliminate those potentially hazardous sleep products in the marketplace that do not currently meet CPSC’s mandatory standard for infant sleep products.

2. “Bare is Best” means placing babies in a safe sleep space (crib, bassinet, play yard or bedside sleeper) with just a fitted sheet.

Always keep the baby’s sleep space bare, by using a fitted sheet only. Do not use pillows, padded crib bumpers, extra bedding, plush toys, quilts or comforters for a baby’s crib. CPSC found that from 2015 through 2017, a majority of the 113 fatalities associated with cribs and mattresses stemmed from a cluttered sleep environment, causing suffocation.

If the baby is going to sleep in a playpen or play yard, “Bare is Best” also applies. Never use mattresses that are not specifically fitted to the play yard, and never use adult pillows or sofa cushions in baby’s sleep space.

3. Once you’ve created a safe sleep space, use it.

If the baby falls asleep in a swing, bouncer, lounger or similar product, transfer the baby to a sleep product or sleep environment. Keep “Bare is Best” and “Back to Sleep” in mind, and avoid other nearby risks to babies, like window blind cords, which could lead to accidental strangulation.

4. Keep bath time safe and fun.

For bath time, water should be between 90- and 100-degrees Fahrenheit. To avoid burns, adults should check the water temperature with their elbow or a thermometer.

Never leave a baby or child unattended while filling the bathtub, and always drain the bathtub immediately after bath time. Babies can drown in as little as one inch of water, which is why an adult should always supervise around any water, and never rely on older children to watch them.

Some parents may believe that baby bathtub products will keep the baby safe from drowning, but they are not a substitute for supervision. They are only bathing aids — not safety devices.

5. Prevent poisoning and other household dangers.

In 2019, approximately 67,500 children younger than five were treated in emergency rooms due to unintentional poisoning, with the vast majority of incidents (85 percent) occurring in the home. To reduce the risk of poisonings, store all medications and household cleaners securely away from children. Parents and caregivers should also be mindful of small toys and coin-size button batteries, and always keep these out of reach of babies.

“Back to Basics” is a safety message for the whole family. By going over these safety steps, everyone — from new parents to experienced caregivers — can focus on the big moments like a first tooth or a first giggle.

For more information, visit CPSC’s Safe Sleep and Crib Safety Education Center here, and sign up for product recall alerts and other safety updates. If people notice a potentially unsafe product — for babies or anyone else in the family — CPSC encourages them to report it through the SaferProducts.gov site.

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