Mama, breathe a sigh of relief—you've successfully made it through the first three months of babyhood! With all of the midnight feedings, diaper changes, spitting up, and sleeping issues, you're probably more than ready to turn over a new parenting leaf with a lower-maintenance kid. From 3 to 6 months, your little guy's personality starts to shine through, giving you some much-needed rewards for all of your hard work. But even though you might be getting more rest, you can't relax when it comes to baby safety. Your curious little one can get into trouble if you don't keep an eye out. Here's some potential hazards to watch out for.
- Choking hazards. Your 3- to 6-month old is probably on the cusp of crawling, but even in a stationary position, he can grab ahold of small stuff that could pose choking hazards. Small pieces of string, tiny toys, bits of food, and other stuff left lying around could easily make its way from hand to mouth. Babies reflexively put stuff in their mouths, so make sure your floor is always free of possible hazards—even if that means lugging out the vacuum every now and again.
- Safe sleep. A study published in a 2009 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine points out that your baby's risk for SIDS peaks between 2 and 4 months of age. But just because your child's older doesn't mean you can become a slacker with safe sleep. He still needs to be placed on his back, alone, and in a crib for the lowest SIDS risk. He doesn't need a pillow, so nix all the extras. A bare crib mattress with a fitted sheet works best. If he starts pulling up on the crib rails, it's the perfect time to lower the mattress to prevent falling out of the crib.
- Floor time. This three month period marks the time when your little one will start exploring movement. Tummy time is important for baby's motor development, but curious kids can get into trouble when left unattended on the floor. He could start scooting toward stairs, or roll into hard furniture, so it's crucial that floor time be a mommy-and-me activity. Get down on the blanket or carpet so you can keep a close eye on your tiny explorer and help him stay engaged so he doesn't get fussy.
- Splish-splash. By now, you've probably gotten rid of the small baby tub and are ready to start using your regular tub for bath time. It's fine—especially when your baby can sit up—to use your adult-sized bath to get squeaky clean, but it's not OK to leave him in the bath alone. He could easily slip and fall into the water. When using the bath, keep a supportive hand under your baby's arms to keep him stable. Never use bath chairs as an alternative to real supervision, since they can be dangerous and actually trap baby under water. Scary!
- Toy time. Your curious little guy is probably interacting with toys way more than he did as a newborn, which might mean a few quiet moments for yourself. But before you hand over rattles, teething rings, or other toys, give them a once-over. Check for loose battery compartments, leaking fluid, or buttons and components that could easily come off in your baby's mouth. Repair or toss anything that could pose a potential problem—your babe would probably be just as content to play with the box anyhow.
- Battery dangers. Plenty of toys contain batteries, but other battery-powered electronics can be especially dangerous, according to Jennifer Hoekstra, Safe Kids Coordinator at the Helen DeVos Children's Hospital. "Keep all items that contain the coin-sized lithium batteries out of reach," she suggests. "If swallowed, these batteries can burn a hole in the child's esophagus in less than 2 hours." Hoekstra names remote controls, scales, flameless candles, and recordable story books as some of the worst offenders.
- Diaper changes. It's about this time that you'll need to learn to change diapers at lightning fast speed. Your wiggle worm will probably protest at spending a ton of time on the changing table, when he really wants to be hanging out in his jumper or checking out the floor. Because of this, never leave your little guy on top of a high surface, even if it's just for a second while you grab the wipes. Rolling happens quickly, and while a safety strap helps, it won't be enough to stop your baby from crashing to the floor. Consumer Reports points out that the safest place to change your wiggly baby is on a changing pad on the floor, so you might want to ditch the pricey changing table.
You're getting a little more sleep at night nowadays, but that means your little guy is keeping you on your toes all day long. It's OK; after three months of doing the new parent thing, you probably feel like an old pro. There's not a lot your babe can throw at you can't handle, so soak it up and pat yourself on the back—as long as your other hand's firmly on your squirmy baby.