Skip to main content

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, How I Wonder How Safe You Are: How Baby Safety Has Evolved

Jun 28, 2024

The expression “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” might apply to certain things in life, but when it comes to baby safety, it is time to commit to modern trends. To help dispel myths and outdated facts, here’s what you need to know about how baby safety has evolved.

1. Babies and young children stay in car seats longer

Only a few decades ago, infants and children would sit on their parents’ laps or in the backseat of the car with a seatbelt. In the 1980s, laws were passed in every state across the country requiring car seats.

Now, the guidance for car seat safety has evolved even further. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), children should stay in rear-facing car seats longer. “Their heads are much heavier in relation to the rest of their bodies until they are 3 or 4 years old,” said Barry Berman M.D., of Inspira Medical Group Pediatrics. “Their spines are not as strong and are better supported facing backward.”  

Around three or four years old, children should transition to a forward-facing seat with a harness and tether. Typically, around ages 6-7, they will outgrow the forward-facing seat with a harness, and it will be time to switch to a booster seat. Your child may be ready to transition to sitting in the backseat between 8-12 years of age, depending on their height and weight. They are ready to sit in the backseat without a booster when the lap belt lies across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits snugly across the shoulder and chest.  

2. Sleep safety has gone through major changes

For adults, pillows and blankets help us stay comfortable during sleep. But to keep babies safe during naptime and throughout the night, simplicity is key.

Cribs should only include a tightly fitted sheet and mattress protector, free of toys, loose blankets or pillows. Modern guidelines suggest wearable sleep sacks as a safer alternative to blankets. Parents should also avoid putting their infant down for naps in bouncy chairs and swings.

Parents should put their baby to sleep on their back, as studies have shown that it may reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). It also reduces the chance that a baby re-breathes their own breath, which can lead to a buildup of carbon dioxide, decrease oxygen levels and cause obstructions in the airway.

3. Run—don’t walk—away from walkers

Traditional baby walkers are strongly discouraged by the AAP. From falling down stairs to gaining access to dangerous household items, thousands of babies are injured every year from using walkers.

“In addition to the physical dangers of walkers, they can discourage babies from learning to walk on their own,” said Dr. Berman. “Instead, engage in tummy time to help them begin strengthening their muscles.”

4. Only use breast milk and formula in bottles for babies until 12 months of age

Breast milk and formula are the best sources of nutrition for babies until 12 months of age. Studies show that alternatives like rice milk can increase the risk of obesity in children later in life.

5. Baby powder and baby oil are no longer recommended

Baby powder feels nearly synonymous with diaper changes. However, the use of baby powder or oil is no longer recommended for newborns because of the potential effects on their still-developing lungs. Pediatricians are now recommending zinc oxide cream to protect your baby’s bum.

Times have changed, and so have many of the processes for protecting your baby. Following these guidelines and checking with your pediatrician about any other specific safety guidance will ensure your baby is as happy and healthy as possible as you begin your parenthood journey.

Inspira Pediatrics offers inclusive, high-quality care for children. To learn more or schedule an appointment, visit us here.

Topics: Patient Safety