A dresser with a basket and mirror with a warm white background.

Newborn Tips: Keep Your Baby Safe at Home

Preparing for motherhood is an exciting journey, but there are many things to do before your little bundle of joy arrives. From babyproofing your home to buying all of the essential items, it can be overwhelming to keep track of it all.

Fortunately, we’re here to help you navigate these newborn challenges. Explore various baby safety tips and essential newborn items in this handy guide!

Preparing Your Home for a Newborn

Welcoming a new addition to the family will require you to make some home adjustments — these are important for your baby’s safety. Below are some tips to keep in mind when preparing your space for a newborn.

1. Babyproof Your Space

Carefully evaluate each room in your home to determine baby safety protocols. It may seem like a lifetime away before you have a curious crawler around the house, but it’s best to start preparing right away so you won’t have to worry about this later.

Place covers over outlets to keep tiny fingers out of sockets. Use childproof locks for cabinets and drawers to keep your little one away from sharp objects, cleaning supplies, or other off-limit items.

All medications and cleaning products — like laundry or dishwasher pods — should always be stored high up and out of reach in securely locked cabinets. For lower cabinets not out of reach, consider using magnetic locks. These tend to work well on any type of cabinet, are easily installable, and don’t pinch fingers.

Another precaution to consider is bolting dressers to the wall to prevent them from tipping over. You can also use baby gates to prevent access to non-child-friendly areas, like staircases or home offices. Additionally, make sure smoke and carbon dioxide detectors are installed and functioning properly.

2. Prep the Nursery

When designing the baby’s room, keep in mind you’ll likely be spending as much time in here as your little one — whether it’s for nursing, diaper changes, or middle-of-the-night comforting. While this nursery should accommodate your baby’s basic needs and safety, it should also be a joyful and comforting space for both of you.

First, designate a sleeping space in the nursery. The crib should be away from any hazardous items like window-blind cords, heating vents, wall lamps, and drapery. Cover the mattress with a snug-fitting crib sheet. Remember to keep stuffed animals, pillows, bumpers, and loose blankets out of the crib at all times. Any item that could potentially cover their nose or mouth can lead to suffocation.

You’ll also need a chair you can sit on comfortably for nursing, as well as a nearby changing station with a diaper pail. In terms of decor, choose a theme that is suitable for a nursery but also appeals to your taste.

Modern nursery with crib, dresser & wall mural.

3. Sterilize Bottles and Pump Parts

Another crucial safety tip when prepping for a baby is cleaning any bottles or breast pump parts. Before their first use, sterilize these items in boiling water for five minutes. Afterward, it won’t be necessary to sterilize these supplies every time you feed your baby. However, wash bottles and bottle nipples in soapy hot water — or in the dishwasher — following each use.

Be sure to clear some space in your fridge for baby formula or excess breastmilk — and for those tasty casseroles your friends and family will likely bring over after the baby arrives!

Essential Items for Your Newborn

With your baby’s arrival quickly approaching, it’s important to have all of the newborn essentials before you head to the hospital. This way, you’ll be fully equipped for your little bundle of joy. Below are some baby safety items and other supplies to add to your checklist.

An image depicting the most essential baby items.

1. Clothes and Pajamas

There’s more to dressing your baby than just finding cute outfits to wear. You also want to consider clothing that’s safe, comfortable, and practical. Here are some important tips for choosing infant clothes:

  • No ties, bows, or buttons: Refrain from clothing with small buttons, bows, long ties, or decorative rhinestones. These are choking hazards for your baby.
  • Choose fire-safe sleepwear: Check the labels on your baby’s pajamas — these will specify if the fabric is flame-retardant. These fabrics have special laundry instructions to follow to prevent the retardant from washing away.
  • Choose kimono-style bodysuits: When an infant’s umbilical cord is clipped at birth, the stump usually takes about one to three weeks to fall off. Think of this stump as a scab you don’t want to irritate while it heals. Kimono-style bodysuits are a good option to ensure better air circulation and less friction against the stump.

2. Newborn Diapers and Wipes

Babies go through many diapers in their first few weeks, so it’s important to stock up on wipes and newborn diapers. When changing your newborn, make sure you follow the standard diapering steps to protect you and your baby from germs.

This includes placing the child on a clean surface, cleaning them with fresh baby wipes, and disinfecting the diapering surface when finished. Always wash your hands thoroughly after a diaper change to prevent the spread of germs.

3. Baby Bottles and a Breast Pump

A breast pump is a must if you plan to breastfeed your newborn. This is a helpful tool for stimulating milk production, especially during the exhausting postpartum period following your baby’s delivery. Research the best breast pumps and purchase one before your due date so you won’t feel rushed to buy one at the last minute — especially if your baby decides to come a little early!

Whether you opt for an electric or manual pump, know that this item will come in handy. Remember to buy plenty of bottles as well. Start with 4-ounce to 5-ounce bottles, as these are ideal for small amounts of breast milk or formula. Try shifting to 8-ounce or 9-ounce bottles when your baby reaches four months — or whenever your little one’s growing appetite makes larger bottles more logical.

Here are some safety tips to remember when feeding your newborn from a bottle:

  • Only give your baby infant formula or breast milk in a bottle.
  • Hold your baby close to you while feeding.
  • Don’t prop the bottle or leave it in the baby’s mouth — this increases the risk of choking, overeating, tooth decay, and ear infections.
  • Never put your baby to bed with a bottle.
  • Don’t force your baby to finish the bottle when they’re full.

4. Car Seat

Because it’s a crucial baby item for safe transportation, the hospital may require you have an infant car seat before discharging you. It’s a cozy spot for your infant to nap in the car and keeps them safe on the road.

A few weeks before you’re due, set aside time to shop for a durable car seat and read the instruction manual thoroughly. Ensure you know how to install the base in your car and adjust the straps. Later, we’ll cover some car seat safety tips when transporting your newborn.

5. Bassinet or Crib

Even if you plan on co-sleeping, your newborn should have a bed of its own. While bassinets are visually pleasing and easy to move, babies can outgrow them quickly. Remember that you should never use a cradle or bassinet with unlocked wheels around other children or stairs. Once you move the bassinet from one location to another, lock the wheels immediately and keep them locked. Don’t attempt to move or carry a bassinet with your child in it.

As discussed earlier, be sure to follow the safety guidelines if you opt for a crib — use tight-fitting sheets and refrain from any loose items in the crib. You may also want to avoid secondhand cribs and bassinets, as they may not be up to current federal safety standards.

Transporting Your Baby

Knowing how to transport your little one safely is essential — both during your pregnancy and after the baby is born. While you’re pregnant, always wear a seatbelt in the car or on an airplane. Your seatbelt should go across the hips and under — not across — your stomach. The shoulder strap should go between the breasts and to the side of your stomach.

Below are some car seat safety tips to follow after your baby is born.

1. Use a Rear-Facing Seat

Infants have a higher injury risk in crashes since their spines are still developing. If your newborn rides forward-facing in a vehicle, their spinal cord may stretch. This can result in severe injury or death. Riding rear-facing in a child safety seat cradles the child’s neck, head, and spine in the instance of a frontal crash.

Your infant or toddler should ride rear-facing in a car seat until they reach the highest weight or height permitted by the seat’s manufacturer. They should always be seated in the back of the vehicle. Riding in the front seat increases the risk of fatal injury by a passenger-side airbag.

When your child’s head nears the top of the seat within the next couple of years, this indicates they’re getting too big for their rear-facing safety seat. At this point, you can switch them to a forward-facing seat.

2. Adjust the Shoulder Straps

The shoulder straps should be at or below your infant’s shoulders. Child safety seats typically have multiple pairs of harness slots so you can adjust the harness as your child grows. Here are some tips for adjusting the harness correctly:

  • The harness should be snug enough so you can’t pinch a fold in the material after buckling in your infant.
  • The straps should lie flat in a straight line without twisting or sagging.
  • Position the top of the chest clip so it’s at armpit level.

3. Avoid Bulky Outerwear

Avoid dressing your infant in bulky or puffy coats during car travel. This can interfere with the tightness of the harness and overheat your child. Instead, place a light blanket or cover over the baby and harness. Never put this blanket between the harness straps and baby, or underneath or behind them.

A mother gently placing her child in a car seat.

Cleaning Up Your Space for Your New Baby

It’s important to keep your space as clean and germ-free as possible — especially with a new baby in the house during cold and flu season. Being sick while caring for a baby is never an ideal combination.

Thankfully, practicing some simple cleaning and hygiene tips can help limit microbes and allergens in your home — protecting you, your baby, and the rest of your family. Below are some tips for cleaning and disinfecting your space for a healthier household.

1. Prioritize Hand Washing

This may seem like an obvious tip, but regular hand washing is usually the best way to prevent the spread of germs. To help keep the baby from getting sick, remind family members and visitors to wash their hands consistently, especially in the following situations:

  • Before preparing food or eating
  • Before holding the baby
  • After changing a diaper or using the restroom
  • After being outdoors
  • After being around pets

2. Wash and Change Crib Sheets

Your baby’s crib sheets will require frequent changing and cleaning since they’re prone to drool, dribbles, and leaks. Try to wash these sheets once a week in hot or warm water. This goes for you and your family members’ bedsheets as well, especially if anyone has the sniffles.

3. Clean Baby Equipment

When you consider how often baby gear is used, frequent cleaning and disinfecting is a must. Here are some equipment cleaning tips to help keep germs from spreading:

  • Scrub down the high chair: While your little one likely won’t be ready to use a high chair until they’re at least four months old, this tip will come in handy when they reach that age. For a gunk-free high chair, place the tray in the dishwasher or scrub it in the sink with warm water and dishwashing liquid daily.
  • Wash toys: With those small nooks and crannies, toys are a hotspot for mildew and mold. Wash them in a bleach and water solution at least once a week. After a thorough rinse, store them in a mesh basket or bag so they can air out. You can even use the dishwasher for hard plastic toys.
  • Wipe down the changing table: Remember to wipe down the changing table with mild soap and water after each change.
Call to action guiding readers to download the Americord info guide to prepare for their family's healthy future.

Learn About the Health Benefits of Stem Cell Storage

Your child’s health is a top priority at any age. You may be surprised to know that cord blood banking can play an important role! At Americord, we process and store stem cells from umbilical cord blood, placental tissue, and cord tissue. These cells can serve future medical or therapeutic uses for the family that saves them.

When you choose to bank stem cells through our services, you’ll find they can be highly valuable to you, your baby, or another family member one day. They can serve a variety of FDA-approved treatments for bone marrow cancers, leukemias, lymphomas, and more.

We’re devoted to helping everyone live healthier, longer lives at Americord. For any questions about our safe and painless banking process, give us a call at 866-503-6005.

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