4 tips for tummy time

Just like adults, infants need exercise to grow stronger. The best way for your baby to develop the muscle strength and motor skills needed for sitting and crawling is by spending time on his or her stomach every day. To make the most of your infant’s tummy time, keep these tips in mind.

  1. Start with short sessions.

Beginning the day your baby comes home from the hospital, place your child on his or her stomach for three to five minutes two or three times a day. As your baby grows, gradually increase the length of each session. By the time your baby is three to four months old, have 20 to 30 minutes of tummy time each day.

  1. Place your baby on a safe surface.

Lay your infant on a solid surface where he or she cannot roll off. A blanket on the floor is ideal. Do not place your baby on a couch or chair.

  1. Make tummy time fun.

Your baby can become bored and fussy if left alone on the floor. Set out a rattle, toys or a baby mirror, and talk to your child as he or she plays.

  1. Ensure you are both fully awake.

To keep your baby safe during tummy time, DO NOT allow him or her to fall asleep. Snoozing on the stomach increases your baby’s risk of suffocation and SIDS. If your baby appears sleepy, place him or her on the back in a crib and try tummy time later – when you are both alert.

To learn more about how to keep your baby safe during sleep, visit www.bootheelbabies.org/safe-sleep.

Always speak with a medical provider if you have questions or concerns about your baby’s health and well-being.

Preparing for your baby: Crib safety

When you are expecting a baby, it’s an exciting time. There are lots of things to think about – including where your child will sleep. Will they have their own room? Will they share a room with a sibling? Will they sleep in your room for a time?

Regardless of their surroundings, it’s important that your infant have a safe sleeping surface and environment. Remember the ABC’s of Safe Sleep: Babies sleep best Alone, on their Back, in a Crib or other Safe Sleep Surface. Whether you use a crib, bassinet or pack n’ play, here are a few simple tips on keeping your baby safe at night and at nap time.

1. Assemble the crib, bassinet or pack n’ plan according to the manufacturer’s directions. Don’t use any mattress other than the one provided.

2. Don’t use any crib older than 10 years, or one that has broken slats or has been modified. Drop-side cribs and older cribs had different safety standards than cribs manufactured today. And infants can strangle if their bodies pass through gaps between slats or loose components.

3. Never place a crib, bassinet or pack n’ play near a window that has blinds or cords. Babies explore the world with their hands, and pulling on cords can be dangerous for them.

4. Keep his or her sleep environment free of toys, pillows, blankets or crib bumpers. Any of these can shift while your baby sleeps, and cover your infant’s face, leading to risk of suffocation. Instead of blankets, use a sleep sack to keep your baby warm in the winter.

5. Make sure mobiles are safely out of reach. Babies love to look at mobiles, but their cute, dangling toys can be a choking hazard. Make sure they are high enough above the crib that your baby can’t reach them.

6. Make sure there are no gaps wider than two fingers between the sides of the crib and the mattress. Little faces can get trapped there, and be at risk of suffocation.

7. Never co-sleep with your baby. Babies should always sleep alone in a crib, pack n play or other safe sleep surface. This includes not sleeping with parents, siblings and all others.

Babies spend much of their time sleeping, so their nursery should be the safest room in the house – no matter what room that might be. Read more about safe sleep for babies at www.bootheelbabies.org/safe-sleep

Source: United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, www.cpsc.gov

Choking Hazards for Children

Babies begin exploring the world first with their eyes, then with their hands. Often, their little hands go straight to their mouths. It’s a wonder to watch. But, as soon as your baby can pick up things with their fingers, they are at risk of putting things in their mouths that can cause them to choke. Choking is a real risk for babies and young children – in fact, one child dies from choking on food every five days in the U.S.*

The most common choking hazard is food. As soon as babies get their front teeth, they can bite pieces of food. But they can’t chew it well until they get molars, when they’re a little older. It’s important to also watch small toys and household items. Remember, the size of a young child’s trachea (windpipe) is about the size of a drinking straw in diameter. They can choke very easily. Below are some common-sense tips to help prevent choking in babies and children.

1. Puree or mash food. If you don’t use prepared baby food, be sure to mash or puree it until it’s soft enough for your baby to swallow easily, and without chewing.

2. Feed babies with small bites of food. Once you begin feeding your baby regular food, be sure that the pieces are no larger than a half inch. Soft-cook veggies before cutting them up so they’re easier for babies to chew, swallow and digest.

3. Choose snack foods carefully. Babies and toddlers aren’t ready for popcorn, nuts, gum, hard candy or marshmallows until they’re at least four, according to babycenter.com.

4. Make sure babies and toddlers have calm, unhurried meal times. Seat babies upright in a high chair at meal times, and make sure they have plenty of time to eat. Rushing can lead to choking. Also have juice, milk or water available for them to take sips between bites. This will encourage them to swallow and not hold food in their mouths, which can be a choking hazard.

5. Pay close attention to toys and household items like coins, buttons, marker caps or jewelry. If an item is small enough to fit inside a toilet paper tube, it’s a choking hazard for a child. Christmas gifts can carry risk, so make sure they are age-appropriate for your baby or toddler.

6. Keep mobiles out of reach. Babies love mobiles – they are visually appealing, and help develop vision. But they can be a choking hazard. Keep them out of reach of little hands. With care and attention, you can reduce your baby’s choking risk. If your baby does choke, call 911 immediately.

*New York State Department of Health