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!
BABY MOTOR MILESTONE OF WALKING
Every parent experiences the joy of watching their infant walk for the first time. That joy is soon followed by a slight fear as baby falls. Fortunately, she is not far from the ground! This cycle repeats over again several times as baby develops her balance, coordination, and strength to walk upright for an extended period of time. As we discussed previously, falling is part of developing the motor milestone of walking. What is important to examine is how to develop safe patterns of falling.
BABY FALLING AND INJURIES
With babies and children, the most commonly broken bone is the clavicle (collarbone). The clavicle is the bone that is long and thin and runs from the shoulder joint to the sternum (the vertical bone in the center of the chest). There is one on the right side and one on the left side of the body. This common injury occurs from falling. In these cases when the fall occurs the baby or child stretches out a hand and arm to break or stop the fall. This results in both over movement and too much impact on the clavicle. The result of this excessive force is a broken collar bone. In these cases usually the body did not know what to do when the fall was happening. The baby or toddler probably landed from splayed out in a random, haphazard position with limbs outstretched.
MOTOR MILESTONE DEVELOPMENT: BABY FALLING SAFELY
The way to teach a baby to fall safely is to guide them through infancy with motor skill training. A baby that masters each of the Stellar Caterpillar Top 10 Motor Skills will gracefully maneuver the walking and falling cycle. When a baby spends a lot of time in the patterns of rolling and crawling these movements and positions become very familiar to the muscles and bones. In the ultra-quick descent of a fall, the brain sends the signals to the muscles to fire one of these familiar motor patterns allowing for a smooth and safe recovery.
Baby lands safely from the fall onto her hands and knees, the crawling position. Or, baby falls into a rolling position which continues the movement of the fall very smoothly and safely. The major joints of the body quickly bend to adapt to the quick descent toward the ground: knees, hips, shoulders, and elbows. This safe landing, which we call recovery, happens so quickly it seems like a trained reflex. The walking milestone now includes a smooth cycle of fall and recovery. In fact, it occurs so smoothly that baby does not mind falling at all. She remains comfortable and in control, and this develops her confidence.
BABY-PROOFING FOR WALKING
The more mobile baby gets, the more she wants to explore her surroundings. Baby-proofing is important at this stage because baby can also hit her head on the corner of a table or something dangerously sharp. Purchase and install some padded bumpers for the corners of low tables. Please avoid leaving sharply pointed toys or objects on the floor in case she falls on them. If you can give her socks with traction on the soles it will also prevent slipping on wood or tile flooring. Electical outlet covers, cabinet door locks, toilet seat cover locks, etc. are all a must. If you have not finished baby-proofing now is the time!
AAP GUIDELINES FOR BABIES AND TV
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a policy statement in its November 2011 issue of “Pediatrics” regarding guidelines for babies and television. The first guidelines issued by AAP in 1999 recommended avoiding “screen time” for babies under the age of two years old. Current research findings confirm their previous recommendations. “Screen time” includes watching TV, the computer, a DVD, a cell phone, a tablet computer, or any similar device.
According to AAP research 90 percent of children under the age of two watch some media on a screen, averaging two hours a day. Some infants are subjected to even more screen time since TVs and DVD seem like convenient babysitters for some parents and due to the exploding market of videos claiming to increase baby’s intelligence. “Second-hand screen time,” the time when the TV is on in the background, was also discouraged. The AAP highly recommends keeping children under the age of two as “screen-free” as possible.
CHOOSE MOVEMENT PLAY FOR BABIES INSTEAD OF TV
Key research findings include poor sleeping habits when TV viewed just before sleep, language delays from exposure to TV instead of live humans talking, and brain development negatively effected from the constant noise and pace of the TV. In their report, doctors strongly encourage movement play and interaction with humans at home. Activities recommended include talking, singing, playing, and listening to music at home with baby while keeping the TV and computers OFF. Stellar Caterpillar lessons encourage these activities and teach parents simple techniques to encourage movement play for baby.
TV AND BABIES IN THE NEWS
Because of the significance of the research findings the AAP guidelines were reported in several major national news outlets. In addition to the AAP report, you can read more about the research findings and expert opinions on the AAP guidelines for babies and TV at the links below:
- “Educational TV for Babies?, It Doesn’t Exist!”, Bonnie Rochman, TIME, 10/18/11.
- “Parents Urged to Limit TV For The Youngest.” Benedict Carey, The New York Times, 10/18/11.
- “TV Guidelines for Babies Under 2: AAP Says Can Harm Development”, Jessica Samakow, The Huffington Post, 10/24/11.
- “No TV for Tots, Doctors Say.”, Rachel Emma Silverman, The Wall Street Journal’s online blog, 10/19/11.
For more in our series on babies and technology please read “Electronic Gadgets Pose Safety Risk,” “Baby Toys: Unplugged vs. Electronic,” and “Baby Books: E-Books on iPads.”
One of the most revered items on the baby gear list used to be the playpen. It used to be a staple in every home of a family with a baby. Why has it fallen off of the list of top baby gear items? It maybe because the word “playpen” is too close to the word “pigpen.” Many new parents think the playpen is confining the way a pen is intended to confine animals, such as pigs. Parents often indicate they want the baby to be free to explore, which actually is exactly what the playpen provides.
THE PLAYPEN: SECURITY AND SAFETY
The playpen is an extremely secure and safe place for baby. It is in essence a “room of her own” that is scaled down to her size where she can be free to wander and explore. All dangerous objects should be outside the playpen, giving parents as well as baby a sense of safety. The protected space becomes familiar to baby and soon she can begin to recognize that she is safe in this space. The security comes from the small scale of the “room.” Babies often seek a tiny little alcove for themselves, they love it. Sometimes they crawl behind a large chair, or under the seat of a chair, it “fits” them.
THE PLAYPEN: FREE HANDS FOR MOTHER
Mothers often need a place to put the baby while they cook or attend to a chore around the house. Today, many parents use an exersaucer or jumper for this reason. We do not recommend these two items and have written about them previously. The playpen is the ideal choice for mother to have a place to put baby so her hands are free for awhile to attend to some work. The advantage to using the playpen is that baby can move around or nap while in it. It facilitates motor skill development whereas the jumper and exersaucer do not. In the above video from good0179′s youtube channel, the baby sits, crawls, partially rolls, and eventually comes to stand in her adorable little “room.”
THE PLAYPEN: PORTABILITY
Most models of playpens can be moved from one room to another, allowing parents to move it around the house. When she is in the kitchen working she can move it close to her, when she goes into the home office to do some paperwork she can transfer it to that room. What an excellent feature! It is important to examine the reviews of playpens to learn how easily they can be transferred from one room to another as some are too big to fit through doors easily.
It is time to add the playpen back to the top of the baby gear list, baby registry, and baby shower items. Maybe we should rename it: babyzone, safespace, babycove, infant island, etc. What do you suggest? Leave me a comment with your suggestion!