I’ve already mentioned that one of the things that surprised me about new motherhood was that I felt like it was impossible to keep my baby safe. That feeling has never quite gone away, and as such, when my daughter turned four months old in November and the doctor said we could start trying to feed her solids, I was like, “Solid food? Hello, choking risk!” I told my fiancé, Mike, that I didn’t want to start Hazel on real food until after we’d all taken infant CPR classes. “All” meaning me, Mike and our babysitter. (If I could have forced my neighbors to take them too, I would have, but that seemed like a bit too much to ask.)
So a couple of weeks ago we headed out for infant CPR classes, which included general baby safety instructions, and we brought Hazel along for the show. That’s where I learned that not only do I have to worry about the fact that my baby might start choking on food during breakfast or stop breathing for no reason in the middle of the night, but there’s a slew of other safety issues that I should have been obsessing over, too. As I sat at a desk with a Resusci Baby lying lifeless in front of me, I realized that, in fact, I haven’t been worrying enough. Three examples:
Your own vanity can severely burn your baby. When Hazel winced the first time I tried to put her in a just-above-lukewarm bath, I thought she just must not be used to temperature changes. Turns out that babies’ skin is five times thinner than adults, so they can burn very, very easily. And because they’re so much smaller, if they do get a burn, it covers a larger percentage of their bodies. The instructor said that someone in one of her classes knew someone whose baby grabbed a hot curling iron—and the kid ended up having to wear some sort of pressurized gloves for a year after that. A year! I’m never curling my hair again!
Even if you think you’ve closely followed the directions for your infant car seat, most likely you did it wrong and your baby will pay the price. Mike and I took a cab to the class, with Hazel in a car seat (we have one that attaches to a stroller). And it was cold, so we had a fluffy, “Bundle Me” stroller liner in it. Bad idea. The instructor inspected it. “Don’t ever put a liner in a car seat—it creates too much space under the straps and won’t secure the baby tightly enough,” she said, shaking her head. Mike and I looked at each other like, “We’re total failures.” Then she pulled on our straps. “Way too loose!” the instructor scolded. How did Hazel ever survive this long?
The babysitter might drop dead while she’s looking after your baby. The instructor asked how many of us knew our babysitter’s or nanny’s last name. Mike and I both raised our hands. She said 25 percent of mothers who come to her classes and 75 percent of fathers don’t know their nanny’s last names. I looked around, feeling superior. But then the teacher said, “Make sure you have your babysitter’s emergency contact info, in case something happens to her while she’s at your house.” At first I thought, “That makes sense; if I were in my nanny’s family I would want to know if something happened to her—wait!” And that’s when I realized what we were talking about. Suddenly all I could think about was our babysitter lying unconscious on the floor while Hazel screamed her head off, alone.
The class was nearly over at that point, and Hazel was getting antsy. So after we practiced infant CPR on the Resusci Babies about a dozen more times, Mike and I adjusted our car seat, said goodbye to our nanny (using her full name) and headed home. I think I’ll wait another year before introducing solids. Way too dangerous.
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