Pediatrician’s Corner 

Dr. Dean Sidelinger, M.D., MPH, County of San Diego Child Health Medical Officer
Dr. Dean Sidelinger, M.D., MPH, County of San Diego Child Health Medical Officer

Keeping Your Baby Safe

Having a baby is a wonderful event. It is also life-changing. There are many decisions to be made – picking out a name, buying clothes, and selecting toys. These decisions, while very important, need to be made at the same time you make other decisions that can keep your baby safe. Here are a few things that every parent needs to do:

  • In cars – There are some simple things that you can do to keep your baby safe in the car. Your baby needs to be in a car seat whenever they are with you in the car. The car seat should be rear-facing, and it is best in the middle of the back seat. The car seat should never be in the front seat with a passenger side air bag. You should wear your seat belt. Never put your child in a car with a driver who has recently used alcohol or drugs. Avoid distractions while driving – like texting or talking on the phone. Keep your car smoke-free.
  • Around the house – In order to prevent your baby from some dangers in the home, it is important to look around your house and secure some items before your child is moving around. Keep plastic bags, balloons, and other small objects away from your baby. The kitchen can be a dangerous place for babies. Don’t let your baby crawl around in the kitchen, use a playpen or high chair instead. Secure poisons, including medicines and cleaning supplies. Have the number to the poison control center (1-800-222-1222) saved in your phone or near your phone in case your baby eats or drinks something that could be poisonous. Close doors to rooms where your baby could be hurt, like the bathroom. Keep your home smoke-free.
  • Near water – Babies can drown, even in just a small amount of water. Never leave your baby alone in bathwater, even if they are in a bath seat or ring. There are also steps that are important to prevent burns and scalds. Set your water heater temperature at home to less than 120 degree Farenheit. If you are renting your home, ask your landlord for assistance. Test the temperature of your baby’s bathwater on your wrist to make sure it is not too hot. Do not drink hot liquids while carrying your baby.
  • To prevent falls – Always keep a hand on your baby when changing clothes or their diaper. Do not leave your child alone in high places, like a changing table, bed, or sofa. Place gates on stairs. Do not put your child in a baby walker.
  • To prevent choking – Keep hanging cords or strings away from your baby. Secure the cords from shades or curtains in a way that your baby cannot get to them. Keep necklaces and bracelets off your baby.

With these things in mind, you are helping to make sure your baby’s first six months are safe.

Your Young Child Has Feelings

Emotional development is how children experience feelings and deal with difficult situations. In the first five years, you will see your child go from a crying baby to a confident preschooler as they develop. As a parent you provide support to influence your child’s emotional development and help to make sure they are ready for school, have friendships with other children, and can control their behaviors.

Every child reaches emotional development milestones at their own pace. Listed below are the typical times that most children develop. If you are worried about how your child is developing, talk to your child’s health care provider.

As a young baby – from birth to 4 months – your child:

  • Will cry to show discomfort or that they are tired
  • Smiles, laughs, and “baby talks” when happy

From 5 – 8 months, your child:

  • Can show anger
  • Smiles and laughs at baby games and funny faces

From 8 – 12 months, your child:

  • Looks to get approval and responds to “no”
  • Smiles easily; shows moods by facial expressions

From 13 – 18 months, your child:

  • Enjoys being around other children
  • Protests or shows anger by using voice and gestures

By 2 years, your child:

  • May get frustrated and resort to crying or tantrums
  • Wants to assert their own  independent style and takes pride in accomplishments

From 2 – 3 years, your child:

  • Experiences emotions like embarrassment, empathy, and guilt
  • Can be assertive, refuses assistance, and insists on doing things on their own

From 4 – 5 years, your child:

  • Will gain confidence
  • Is trusting, empathic, and intellectually inquisitive

As a parent you support your child by being there when your child needs you and providing them what they need. In order to best care for your child, you need to take care of yourself – physically, mentally, and emotionally. It is hard being a parent! It is easier to enjoy your child and be a supportive and loving parent when you feel good yourself.

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