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The Guide to Toy Shopping

 

Sure, all your child’s toys look like fun, but are they safe? Here’s a quick checklist of what to look for when shopping for playthings:

  1. Read – and heed – those warning labels. Don’t be tempted to buy a toy that’s labeled for an older child, no matter how cute it is.
  2. Look out for sharp points, edges, and corners. Run your fingers all around the toy, remembering that babies stick things in their eyes, ears, and mouths (and possibly their noses).
  3. Check out cords and strings. Too long a dangle is a definite no-no since babies can get entangled – or worse, strangled.
  4. Avoid loose or little parts. That includes sewn-on teddy-bear noses and eyes and anything small enough to be swallowed.
  5. Sturdy and strong are a must. Any toy you’re considering should be shatterproof, and if it does break, it shouldn’t expose any sharp edges.
  6. Too loud? Leave it behind. Your baby’s sensitive hearing can be damaged by loud noises, so check the volume (or volume control) in advance.
  7. Make sure it’s nontoxic. This is especially important with arts and crafts supplies or any toy that contains liquid.
    Check the recall list. A quick look at government-sponsored sites like Consumer Product Safety Commission and Recalls.gov will tell you if a toy means trouble.

The Dangers of Highchairs

If you are like most new parents, you are hyper-aware of all possible dangers and have taken every step to ensure that your little bundle of joy will be safe in any circumstance. Guests are given hand sanitizer and face masks if they might cough, car seat straps are double checked for proper fit, bottles and binkies are sanitized between each use and clothes are washed in special detergent before wear. While these steps are all great ways to protect your child, there can be unseen dangers lurking in the places that you least expect. In fact, one of the biggest culprits can be sitting right in your own kitchen: the baby high chair.

High Chair Dangers

Using a high chair at home or in a restaurant is a great way to keep your child upright and ready for a meal. It can also keep squirmy toddlers confined to make feeding times easier. While these are all logical benefits, there are several risks of high chair use that many new parents are not aware of. These can include injuries from falling as well as diseases from hidden germs.

Germs

You probably use hand sanitizer on your baby’s hands when you eat out, but placing your child in a high chair can introduce a host of new germs. The Daily Mail used swabs to test the high chairs in 30 different restaurants and made a startling discovery – there were several times more germs on a baby’s high chair than on the average public toilet.

In general, public toilets harbor eight bacteria per square centimeter. The average high chair among those tested was home to 147 bacteria per square centimeter. Some restaurants boasted high chairs with up to 1,200 bacteria in each square centimeter. A few of the germs found included E-coli. Staph aureus and enterococcus feacalis. Another study found that 60 percent of the trays on high chairs were contaminated with Coliforms, a certain type of bacteria that is left from soil, unwashed vegetables, raw meat and fecal matter.

While most restaurants will ensure that any spills are wiped off of high chairs after use, researchers reported that sometimes the cleanest looking seats actually held the most germs. The seat cushions proved to be the biggest culprit for harboring bacteria. Since young children generally eat with their hands while in high chairs, they are likely putting those germs straight into their mouths.

What You Can Do

Many parents have found that the same covers used in grocery store shopping carts can work on restaurant high chairs to protect their baby’s health. You can also use a thin blanket to ensure your child does not touch any surface of the high chair, but the best advice experts can give is to thoroughly wash everyone’s hands before and after eating. If possible, you can even keep the child in his or her car seat or on your lap during the meal.

Falls

First, we’ll talk about falling. The Atlantic reports that one child will go to the emergency room every hour after a fall from a high chair, totaling 9,400 children each year. This number rose over 20 percent from the years 2003 to 2010, signaling the need to make some changes. While a fall can result in a simple scrape or bruise, bone fractures and brain injuries are also possible. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the highest rate of emergency room visits for traumatic brain injuries occurs in those who are under four years old. Many of these injuries are due to falls, some from high chairs.

What You Can Do

Some experts suggest that parents place their children on the floor and forego high chairs altogether. If this seems extreme, there are other options you can choose to protect your baby’s health, including the following:

  • Place the high chair at a lower height. The farther your child falls, the more likely he or she will be injured and the more severe the injuries may be.
  • Do not place a child in a high chair until he or she is able to sit without support.
  • Secure wheel locks anytime the high chair is in use.
  • Check high chair recalls. If you have a damaged or defective high chair, your baby is more likely to suffer a fall. You can check the government’s official website for recalls.
  • If you buy your high chair secondhand, be sure that it has a 5-point adjustable harness and that all clips are in perfect condition. Tighten all screws and bolts and check for any cracks or tears.
  • Strap your child in correctly. Today.com states that two-thirds of parents who knew what their child was doing before the fall reported that they were standing or climbing in the high chair. Children can also slip or wriggle out of loose straps, so be sure they are fitted tight, especially the crotch strap.
  • Be sure your high chair has a sticker from the American Society for Testing and Materials or the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association to prove that it has been tested and approved for safety standards.
  • Keep away anything that the child can use to pull, push or kick the chair over.

Maintaining safety can be a little harder when you are not at home. If you are in a restaurant and use a baby high chair, be sure that is has proper, working straps. If it doesn’t, feel free to ask the server for a new one.

Burns

Burns are another danger for babies who are in high chairs. If you push your child up to the table so she or she can eat with the rest of the family, be sure that there is no way a burn could occur. Make sure all pan handles are out of reach as well as any containers of hot food. Spills can also burn a baby, so it’s better to keep any hot liquids off the table.

While high chairs offer a host of benefits to parents, they also carry a fair amount of risks. By following these guidelines, you’ll be able to avoid danger and keep your baby safe. For more tips and tricks from trusted parents, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Your Baby’s Feeding Schedule

You snapped the pics of your messy-mouthed munchkin starting solids and shared the first meal milestone, and now you’re wondering where to go from here. How much baby food should you feed your little one and when should you start on a three-meals-a-day plan? What’s the ratio of solids to liquids — and should both be on the menu at the same time? Read on for answers to these questions and for simple guidelines to setting up a baby-food feeding schedule.

HOW OFTEN AND AT WHAT TIMES SHOULD I FEED BABY SOLIDS?
The “perfect” time of day to feed your baby is whatever time works for both of you. If you’re breastfeeding, you might try solids when your milk supply is at its lowest (probably late afternoon or early evening). On the other hand, babies who wake up bright-eyed and eager might be happy to sample solids for breakfast. You’ll quickly learn when she’s interested in eating and when she isn’t, which she’ll show you by opening her mouth wide and willingly taking bites versus fussily turning her head away from the spoon you offer her. Follow the cues and don’t force feedings — you can always try again later.

Start with one meal a day, then move up to two (try one in the morning and one in the evening) for the next month or so. As your baby gets older, you can work up to three solid meals a day with a snack or two in between.

HOW DO I INCORPORATE BREASTFEEDING OR BOTTLE-FEEDING ONCE I INTRODUCE SOLIDS?
Even though your baby is now slurping food from a spoon, the bulk of her nutrition will still come from breast milk or formula. Consider the solids you serve as healthy supplements and a chance for your sweetie to explore new tastes and textures.

So when should you bring out a bottle (or your breast) and when should you dish out solids? There’s really no set rule. Some moms find that an appetizer of milk or formula is a good way to start off a meal, so their little ones aren’t too hungry to settle down to eat. Other moms offer solids as a first course and milk or formula for dessert. Then there are moms who like to completely separate solids from nursing or bottle-feeding sessions. Since there’s no right or wrong, experiment until you find a feeding schedule that works for you.

HOW MUCH SHOULD I FEED BABY IN A SITTING?
A good rule of thumb when you’re figuring out just how much to give your little one during each meal: Start small and work your way up. While your baby’s first meals may have consisted of a teaspoon or two of cereal, once she gets the hang of eating, you can use the following food schedule as a general guideline:

4 to 6 months:

24 to 36 ounces of formula or milk (or 5 to 8 nursing sessions a day)
1 to 4 tablespoons of cereal once or twice a day
1 to 4 tablespoons of a fruit and vegetable once or twice a day.

6 to 8 months:

24 to 36 ounces of formula or milk (now that your baby’s a more efficient nurser, you’ll probably breastfeed her 4 to 6 times a day)
4 to 9 tablespoons of cereal, fruit and vegetables a day, spread out over 2 to 3 meals
1 to 6 tablespoons of a meat or other protein (like yogurt, cottage cheese or crumbled egg) a day
9 to 12 months:

16 to 30 ounces of formula or milk (or 3 to 5 nursing sessions a day)
Around 1/4 to 1/2 cup each of grains, fruit and veggies twice a day
Around 1/4 to 1/2 cup of dairy foods a day
Around 1/4 to 1/2 cup of protein-packed foods a day.

Just remember that every baby is different and every day is different, too — feeding problems arise, and your little eater may be happy to chow down one day and clamp her tiny mouth shut the next. Sure, it’ll take some trial and error to figure out the best feeding schedule for your baby, but as long as your little one is eating a variety of foods and growing and thriving, you can rest assured that she’s well fed.

 

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