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newborn safety: 20 things every parent needs to know

Must-read safety tips for new parents and caregivers.

Nothing can prepare you for the overwhelming love and joy that newborns bring, but what you can prep for is safety. You're bound to have questions (there's always questions), but these precautions are essential to know and take to keep your little one safe.

stock your medicine cabinet

1. Be ready for baby’s first scrape or sickness with a baby first aid kit, thermometer, emergency medications such as Tylenol or Motrin, and an infant medicine dispenser. Make sure every caregiver knows where these supplies are, and check expiration dates regularly, so you don’t have to scramble when the sniffles strike.

2. A humidifier will help keep your baby’s nose clear and soothe them when their tiny nostrils are irritated. It’s not just for sick days; it can help them get better sleep all year round.

3. The FDA says children under age two shouldn’t take decongestants or cough syrups, so get acquainted with a nose-sucker, and lean heavily into natural remedies like saline spray and organic chest rubs.

set up for safe sleep

4. You’re going to have a new roommate for a while. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you keep your baby in your room (but not your bed!) early on, so register for a bassinet, or a playard with a removable bassinet, to pull up right beside you.

5. Once you move your baby into their own room, minimalism rules; the AAP says no blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, or anything else in their crib until at least age two. A swaddle or sleep sack can provide extra warmth safely, and always lay baby to sleep on their back.

6. If your baby loves their pacifier, let them keep it for sleep. According to the AAP, sucking helps keep your baby’s airway open and may contribute to preventing SIDS. You may want to wean them off after six months, before it becomes a habit that’s hard to break.

7. Safe sleeping applies to you too. If you have trouble keeping your eyes open during late-night feedings, set your phone alarm to go off every few minutes so you don’t fall asleep holding your newborn.

getting home safe and sound

8. Your hospital will require you to carry your baby out safely buckled in their car seat, so consider getting to know your car seat ahead of time. Learn how to buckle and adjust the straps before having to do it with a teeny tiny newborn in the seat, and if you’ll be driving home from the hospital, secure your car seat base in your car.

9. Fit matters. A 5-point harness offers the best possible protection for your newborn. When you’re buckling up, remember to check these three things: chest, shoulders, legs. The chest clip should sit at armpit level, not higher or lower. The shoulder straps should come through the seat cushion at or below baby’s shoulders when baby is rear-facing. And the buckle between the legs should not be tucked behind the baby’s bum.

10. Car seat installation can be tricky, so find a certified car seat expert to ensure you’ve got it right. has a list of Child Passenger Safety Technicians in your area.

11. Always skip the coat in the car seat. They get in the way of a snug-fitting harness—and that’s what keeps your baby safe.

12. Germs happen. Your infant can’t wear a mask yet, but you can keep their airflow safer indoors with a cotton car seat cover.

babyproof before baby notices

13. Try to see your house from your baby’s point of view. Once they’re mobile, they’ll be curious about everything in their eyeline, so be generous with the corner padding, cabinet locks, and outlet covers.

14. If you have stairs or rooms in your house that are off limits to your baby, a baby gate will help keep them safe. Use a baby playard to section off smaller safe areas in larger rooms or outdoors.

15. When your baby isn’t enclosed, they will climb. And pull and bump and climb some more. Secure every large piece of furniture in your house to the wall to prevent it from tipping on your little one.

16. Expand your babyproofing to all corners of your home. A cushy cover for your faucet will prevent bathtime bumps and cabinet safety locks will keep your kitchen safe.

make playtime a safe time

17. Because your baby will inevitably put everything in their mouth, keep their toys clean with a natural cleaner. When it’s time to tidy up, a soft fabric toy chest won’t slam shut on your baby’s fingers.

18. Check your infant toys regularly for broken or loose parts that could become choking hazards. Check out the AAP for more helpful tips on how to buy toys with safety in mind.

19. Always remove your baby from a bouncer, rocker or activity center if they start snoozing, says the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Babies should sleep on firm, flat surfaces that have been certified for safe sleep.

20. The CPSC has a good rule of thumb to figure out whether a toy is too small for a baby: try putting it through a paper towel roll. If it fits, it’s too small.