DANGERS OF TEXTING
A recent Wall Street Journal article by Ben Worthen explored the potential dangers of texting while parenting. Watch the above video from WSJDigitalNetwork’s youtube channel for a summary of the article. Emergency room doctors suspect that the recent rise in children’s injuries, especially in children under the age of 5, may be due to parents engaged with their smartphones while they were supposed to be watching their child. ”Non-fatal injuries to children under age five rose 12% between 2007 and 2010, after falling for much of the prior decade,” writes Worthen. He cites the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as the source for the data, and states that they based the statistic on emergency-room records.
DATA SHOWS INCREASE IN TEXTING
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, texting is the dominant use of a mobile phone. The percentage of adults engaged with a smart phone in the activity of texting is approximately 65% of smart phone usage, while email is 47%, talking 45%, and listening to music is 29%. This data is cited from a Consumer Electronics Products and Usage Report from 2010. It clearly reveals that people are engaging with their phones to text more that any other e-activity.
To keep baby safe, it is important to keep your eyes on her. This is important especially once she masters her motor milestones of crawling and walking. The problem with texting while parenting is that you need your eyes and your hands to text, so that means you must direct your focus away from your baby to text. And, as the WSJ article points out, once we respond to a text we might check email, facebook, or search for something on the net while looking down at our phone. We know that when baby masters her motor skills she can move very fast. In one second she can climb the couch or pull something heavy off a shelf. Practice safety at home, at the pool, and at the park by asking people who may need to contact you to phone only so you can keep your eyes on baby. When you can, turn off your phone. This may be especially important at places such as the park where there are many new and unexpected situations that may present danger if baby is not closely supervised.
- Turn off your phone when possible (at parks, pools, etc.).
- Ask important contacts to call you rather than text.
- Be aware of your eyes. Keep them focused on baby.
- Baby proof your home to help prevent accidents.
BABY GEAR: infant SEATS IN THE NEWS
More than four million Bumbo Baby Seats were voluntarily recalled last Wednesday by Bumbo and the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Although there was a previous recall in 2007, serious accidents have continued to occur. Almost two doen reports of infants wiggling out of their seats and suffering skull fractures led to the recall. Last March we posted articles from the Chicago Tribune which exposed the “Grave Concerns About The Popular Bumbo Seat.” The recent recall news immediately hit most of the major news outlets in print, online, and television. Here are just a few links:
LEARN TIPS TO IMPROVE BABY POSTURE
The recall recommends contacting Bumbo directly and they will send you a “repair kit” which incudes a “restraint belt” which is basically like a seat belt. This helps keep the child in the seat, according to Bumbo. However, we recommend getting rid of the seat. A baby’s head is very heavy and if they arch backward, the weight of their head may tip them over and take the chair with them. Instead, read some of our posts about how babies develop the sitting posture so you can guide your infant toward beautiful posture through exercise and play:
“Batteries Shown to Pose Risks for Kids,” Anna Wilde Matthews, Wall Street Journal, 5/14/12.
ELECTRONIC GADGETS BELONGING TO PARENTS
Babies love to hold and play with objects that are part of the every day life activities of mom and dad. These objects include remote controls, cameras, watches, and cell phones. Parents often smile as they watch their little babies hold the cell phone to their ears or try and push the buttons on the remote. However, a recent Wall Street Journal article warns that these electronic gadgets contain batteries which pose potential safety risks to babies and children. The number of visits to the emergency room stemming from batteries put in noses, ears, or mouths is rising across America.
ELECTRONIC TOYS IN THE NURSERY & BEDROOMS
The rapid increase in electronics includes a proliferation of electronic toys for children and babies. Nurseries and bedrooms of older siblings abound with blinking, flashing, and vibrating toys that entertain because of a battery. Babies don’t understand how life threatening a battery can be. Please supervise all use of electronic equipment. Better yet, limit the number of electronic toys in the home and choose instead the toys that encourage developmental play and foster motor skill development.
EMERGENCY ROOM VISITS: ACCIDENTS WITH BATTERIES
The journal Pediatrics published a new study which found that the number of visits to the emergency room by children under the age of 18 doubled between 1990 and 2009. In 2009 the number of children 5 and under swallowing the button shaped batteries was 10.1 per 100,000. Research has highlighted the dangers of these button batteries which are small and shaped like a shirt button. Swallowing batteries is potentially life threatening because it can become lodged in the esophagus and can give off electricity which can kill nearby tissue within two hours, according to Gary A. Smith, an author of the study and director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Stellar Caterpillar suggests parents add to their baby-proofing list locking all battery-containing devices in a drawer or cupboard.
SOME ELECTRONIC OBJECTS TO KEEP OUT OF REACH:
- electronic toys
- remote controls
- cell phones
- hearing aids
For more in our series on babies and technology please read “TV and Babies,” “Baby Toys: Unplugged vs. Electronic,” and “Baby Books: E-Books on iPads.”
As baby masters the motor milestones and climbs with confidence, it is important for parents to keep in mind several safety concerns. In fact, baby enjoys climbing. Baby sees a challenge and wonders, “Can I do that,” or “Can I sit up there,” or “Can I get to that toy?” This is why they often start climbing the furniture in the house. They have no understanding that it is not designed for them to climb on or over. Recently, we discussed singing “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed, “ to discourage them from climbing furniture.
Another safety concern is, ‘Will my baby figure out how to climb out of his crib?” Watch the video above from chambonito’s youtube channel to see Sammy demonstrate one way of how baby climbs out of the crib. Please note that serious accidents can happen when babies attempt this. The baby boy in the above video is extremely careful as he climbs out, which demonstrates to parents how it is possible to achieve this feat. This boy’s parents woke up one morning and found him outside of his crib. They grabbed their video camera and put him back in the crib to learn how it happened. Next, a wise decision was made to purchase a new crib for safety. It probably was much taller so he could not get his leg up on the bar. Although this baby is 18 months old, I have seen videos with babies as young as 13 months old achieving the same goal.
Please remember to look at the height of the crib bars relative to the top of baby’s head. If the baby is too tall, he can put his foot up on the top bar and begin his climb. Another important thing to keep in mind is that sometimes babies learn to climb out of their playpens too.
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“Take steps to make stairs safer for kids,” Michelle Healy, USA Today, 3/12/12.
When your Stellar Caterpillar is rolling and crawling confidently, curiosity lures him to potentially dangerous situations. One of the most common hazards in the home is the staircase. Unlike the closely supervised stair climbing that baby learns in a Stellar Caterpillar lesson, these accidents can occur in a moment when mommy is distracted.
Taking the time to very thoroughly baby proof one’s home is extremely important, and this includes the installation of safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs. However, as the above TV segment from Nationwide Children’s youtube channel shows, accidents also happen on the stairs while carrying baby on the stairs. In fact, the recently published USA Today article on this topic points out that 1 in 4 accidents with babies under one year of age happen while being carried by an adult on the stairs. A confident and mobile baby needs the protection of both baby proofing and careful parenting.
7 TIPS FOR BABY STAIR SAFETY
- Keep stairs free of clutter
- Repair damages in construction
- Install and use handrails
- Place safety gates at both the top and the bottom of stairs
- Avoid carrying other items while carrying baby
- Wear shoes with good traction to avoid slipping
- Teach others to avoid distracting you while carrying baby on stairs
One of the events that takes place multiple times each day in the infant’s life is the changing of her clothes/diapers on the changing table. With a newborn, mother’s job is a bit easier than later on when baby has learned to move around. After baby has learned to roll, the moment mother tries to put a pair of pants on baby, over she goes onto her stomach! This complicates the changing process because the movement often pulls her leg out of the clothes mother is putting on her. So, this is undoing mother’s work.
The unfortunate solution often chosen in this predicament is to change baby in the standing position. Mother will put baby on her feet and hold her while changing her. Baby is not yet able to stand on her own so she is unable to move. This is not the best choice!!! Baby feels unstable and unable to move. Just look down at her feet and see her toes curling under because she is unbalanced and insecure. In previous posts, we have discussed the problems for motor skill development when baby is forced into the standing position. The frequency of being forced into the standing position several times a day while being changed teaches the muscles incorrect patterns and creates stiffness in the legs and torso.
A better choice for baby’s motor skill development is to keep her on her back. When she has learned to sit on her own you can change her clothes while she is sitting. Prepare yourself adequately for the challenge. Lay out the diapers, clothes, and baby wipes that you need. Put them very near so you can just reach out and grab them. Choose a favorite toy to hand her at the right moment. Often taking the clothes off is easier than putting them on, so wait to hand her the toy until right before the most challenging part of the changing process. Ideally, she will focus on it and not wiggle. If the toy does not work at capturing her attention introduce a new toy–your face. Play with her by singing a song and exaggerating the words with your mouth. This is the perfect place to do this because your face is close to hers.
Learn to change her as quickly as possible because once she learns to move she does not want to remain still. And always remember to keep one hand on baby so she does not quickly roll off of the table. Never turn your back on her to grab something you forgot. If you need to get something, pick her up and take her with you. Never, ever, turn your back on her or take your hand away from her. There are so many accidents that occur annually from babies falling off of changing tables. Safety comes first!
6 TIPS FOR CHANGING BABY
- Keep her on her back or sitting
- Place clothes and diapers out and nearby
- Choose a favorite toy to hand her at the most challenging moment
- Sing to her while exaggerating the words with your face and mouth
- Change her quickly
- Remember safety–always keep one hand on baby!