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Protecting Your Baby

Child-proofing your home gives your baby some freedom and helps develop self-esteem by letting him or her discover, test and use new abilities without getting hurt. Making your home safe for your baby helps prevent accidents and allows your baby to learn and explore the world.

To protect your baby:

  • Set up smoke detectors near bedrooms, the kitchen and on each living level.
  • Set your water heater at 120 degrees to prevent your baby from getting burned.
  • Always test water temperature before placing your baby in a bath.
  • Never leave your baby unattended when giving him or her a bath.
  • Keep small objects that could cause choking out of the crib and away from your baby. In addition, cribs should never be placed near blinds that have cords.
  • Remove pillows or quilted blankets from the crib until your baby is one year of age.
  • Use safety latches on doors and cupboards.
  • Use safety covers on all electrical outlets.
  • Keep dangling wires out of your baby's reach.
  • Do not allow anyone to smoke around your baby. Infants can easily be burned and should not breathe second-hand smoke, which leads to a higher risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and asthma.
  • Never eat, drink or carry anything hot when holding your baby.

You will need a variety of things to take care of your baby. The following are some of the key items you should have:

Car Seats

A car seat is the single most important piece of baby equipment. It is not safe or legal for a child to travel in a car unless he or she is secured in a car seat. Unfortunately, 97 percent of car seats are not installed correctly. Your local police department has officers who are certified in car seat installation. You should install the car seat prior to your baby's birth and have a qualified person inspect it. Contact the Warm Line (1-800-711-7011) or your local police department for more information. Women & Infants' valet staff and security officers are also certified to install car seats. They can help you before you go home with your baby.

Car seat safety tips:

  • Use a car seat that is federally approved for infants. Check the owner's manual in your car. Other attachments, such as a locking clip, may be needed for installation.
  • Car seats should be installed in the back seat of the car, preferably in the center of the seat. Never put an infant in the front seat, especially if the car has air bags.
  • Check the expiration date. Car seats have a five-year expiration date.
  • If the car seat has been in an accident, even a minor one, get a new one. Car seats are safety tested for one crash only.
  • Rhode Island law mandates that car seats should be placed in the rear-facing position until your baby is two years of age and weighs 20 pounds.


When choosing a crib for your baby, make sure it meets current safety standards. Since June 2011, federal safety standards prohibit the manufacture or sale of drop-side rail cribs. The standards also require stronger parts and hardware. If you have an older crib made before the new safety standards were enacted, check with the manufacturer to see if it offers hardware to keep the drop side from moving. Check the crib frequently to make sure the hardware is tight and no parts are broken or missing. Consider buying a new crib that meets the stronger standards, if possible.


These are useful for just a few weeks. To get the longest and safest possible use out of your bassinet or cradle, make sure:

  • The bottom is well supported so it won't collapse as your baby gains weight.
  • The base is wide so it won't tip if someone bumps into it.

Move your baby to a crib once he or she weighs 10 pounds or more.


Swings can be helpful when trying to settle a fussy baby. Review the weight guidelines to be sure your swing is safe for your baby's size. Be sure to support the baby's head with a rolled blanket or towel. Do not leave a baby in a swing unattended or for a long period of time.


These are wonderful to give your baby the holding and cuddling he or she needs, while you have both hands free. Do not keep your baby in a snuggly for a long period of time.


Strollers are a great way to travel with your baby. They allow the baby to nap comfortably while you get some fresh air and exercise. When choosing a stroller, look at price, convenience and practical features such as protection from the sun. A model that reclines flat for infants is helpful, so they can sleep and have comfortable head support.