It's the most wonderful time of the year! Yes, the holidays are upon us but this is also the time of year when we create our resolutions for the New Year. This year, I'm focusing on some old but still relevant goals like staying physically active, nurturing a good work-home life balance, traveling more, and getting a better handle on my self-care. However, there's one more resolution that made my list this year -- Preventing Needless Deaths in children.
Over the last 5 years, nearly 200 babies and young children in the Tampa Bay Area died from preventable causes of death. What were the three main causes? Unsafe sleep, abusive head trauma, and drowning. If you find these numbers alarming (which you should), imagine what these numbers might look like in your own communities! That's why I teamed up with the Children's Board of Hillsborough County and B2 Communications to help you learn more about these top 3 resolutions on your list for the new year.
Let's start with our A, B, C's -- it's really as simple as 1, 2, 3...
Alone on their Backs, in a Crib!
As tempting as it can be to snuggle up with your bundle of joy or swaddle them with heavy blankets, it really is best for your sweet pea to sleep alone. I know those first few days, weeks, and months home with baby can be tough. However, the convenience of keeping baby in the bed with you isn't worth the risk of accidental death. The safest place for baby to sleep is alone on their backs, in a crib with a firm mattress and fitted sheets. If the room gets chilly due to a change in season, consider placing your little one in a wearable blanket or a sleeper to avoid overheating or suffocating them with a bulkier blanket. Aunt Suzy might've spent a year crocheting that blanket for your baby but again, it's not worth the risk.
Be sure to also remind your sitters and caregivers of the ABCs as well!
Being a new parent is tough. It doesn't matter whether it is your first child or your fifth. Parenting can get real -- and it's important to know what options are available to you when it does! Adding holiday stress can make adjusting to your newest family member that much harder. The great thing is that there are so many free resources out there that can help you manage that stress in a healthy way. You can always dial 2-1-1 from your phone to get connected with the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay, where you will gain access to confidential crisis intervention services as well as referrals to community resources. Not local to Tampa Bay? Dialing 2-1-1 will get you connected with these same services nationwide!
Just remember, your baby will cry for many reasons -- hunger, fatigue, discomfort, and more. Crying is their only way of communicating and it can be hard to figure out how to soothe them in that moment. Shaking your baby will not get an answer out of them. Instead, it may cause irreversible damage and even death. If nobody has told you yet, it is totally okay to take a time out from your baby. When the going gets tough, place your baby on his or back in the crib and take a breather if you need it.
We (Don't) All Float
Did you know that it only takes 1 inch or water for an infant to drown? Just to put this into perspective, we are talking about water as high as a paperclip or half of a crayon -- which isn't a lot of water at all. While you're getting your homes ready for the new year, be sure to watch out for household hazards like bathtubs, pet water bowls, buckets, and toilets. As your little one becomes more mobile, these standard household items can pose serious hazards for your children.
Another major consideration with accidental drowning is swimming pools. Here in Florida, swimming is a popular pastime. Even if you don't have a swimming pool, chances are you have access to one. When you're on or near the water, consider designating someone to be the "lookout". A child can drown in as little as 20 seconds. Therefore, having a lookout to supervise closely when children are in or near the water can help prevent accidental drowning.
Take Action Today
As you continue planning out your goals for the new year, I challenge you to include these three resolutions on your list. This is a great conversation starter for the many family (and friend) dinners you may attend or even host this year. It starts with the parents but we all have have a duty to prevent children from dying preventable deaths.
Tis the season to make a new year's resolution that can save a child's life. Make it count!
Learn more about how to keep your kids safe at PreventNeedlessDeaths.com.