By Jenni Ho-Huan
Many parents, especially mothers, dream of doing up a beautiful room to welcome their baby. With a wide range of attractive options, it is easy (if you have the means) to go fancy, bright and even audacious.
While having a stunning baby room is a dream of many new parents, we should ensure that safety is not compromised. Dr Wong Chin Khoon, Paediatrician with the Singapore Baby & Child Clinics, informed us that local statistics show children face the most hazards in their homes, and 94% of home injuries happens to infants below the age of one. So here is a checklist to help you create a room that helps to keep your baby safe.
1. Baby cots and cribs
Rock-a-bye-baby in a postcard-look cradle is romantic but if you are going to be too busy to notice the growth of your baby, start with a larger cot from the start. Babies also start to wiggle, flop and turn as soon as three months, so a larger cot will allow them more space to manoeuvre. It is not advisable to put your baby in bed with you. Tired parents have been known to roll over their own baby with tragic results. Also, as older infants are capable of vigorous movements, they might fall off the bed and injure themselves.
A good cot will be one that can be lowered as baby grows to prevent the baby from climbing out, does not allow the baby’s head to be stuck in between the cot bars, and comes with a mattress which you can easily replace if it gets soiled. Infants do not need pillows or bolsters. Blankets can be used if you can find those with ventilation holes. As baby grows, ensure that there are no items in the cot to stand on, and adjust the cot to an appropriate height so that your enterprising baby will not climb out and fall. Place your cot in a good corner away from the window and curtains.
2. Paints, prints, patterns and plants
If you are doing up the baby room, make sure you use lead-free paint and give ample time for the paint to dry and the chemical smells to dissipate. Use lead-free paint.
Prints, stickers, patterns on walls pose potential danger because sometimes we forget to remove them even when baby has grown old enough to peel them and place them in their mouths.
Plants are also not a good idea as they may topple and get munched on. Toddlers’ curiosity knows no boundaries and they love to touch, feel and taste as they explore the world.
3. Sarong danger
Doctors generally discourage the use of the sarong swing as serious injuries have resulted. Caregivers may accidentally rock and swing them too violently. Newborns develop best lying on a firm flat surface. This gives them good spinal support. To give the newborn the familiar snug feel within the womb, a good soft cotton wrap that tucks their arms and feet in is a better alternative to the sarong; and most of them will let you know enough is enough when they try to wiggle free from their wraps!
Toys are invariably a part of room décor for children. Try to get toys that do not have toxic paint, are produced by a reliable company and do not break easily. These toys should not come with buttons, strings, pom poms, or small gaps. This is to prevent the child from swallowing objects, being strangulated or having their fingers trapped within the toys. Toys should also be washable to keep them clean.
Windows should be installed with grilles that do not have sharp edges – so watch for the designs.
6. Wires/Power outlets
It is cosy to have soft lights but the more lights you have, the more you need to be sure that they are not a hazard to your baby. Make sure all wires are securely tucked away behind furniture. Or keep wires out of reach by pasting them on the wall, and making sure that they won’t fall off easily! Unused power points should be covered securely with a safety plate.
Last but not least, here are two tips to taking care of yourself and establishing a bond that lasts:
• Watch your back!
Caring for baby involves a lot of bending and picking, which could strain the back. Make sure that the baby-changing area is not too low to avoid putting too much pressure on your back. And remember to bend your knees when picking up your child or heavy objects.
• Establish a bond that lasts!
As parents, we always hope to provide the best for our child. While this is understandable, we must not forget that nothing can replace the quality time we spend with the child. Positive parent-child interaction is key to helping the child develop emotionally and intellectually, and establishing a bond that will last a lifetime.
Maybe Baby would like to thank, Dr Wong Chin Khoon, Paediatrician with the Singapore Baby & Child Clinics, for his professional input.