5 Things You Can do to Keep Your Baby Safe

Brought to you in partnership with the Healthy Start Coalition of Hillsborough County

5 Things You Can do to Keep your Baby Safe

As a new parent, keeping your baby safe is one of your most important jobs. In recognition of September being Infant Mortality Awareness Month, we are proud to partner with the Healthy Start Coalition of Hillsborough County to focus on educating our community about what causes infant deaths and how to prevent them. In Hillsborough County, 1 out of 154 infants die before their first birthday. Nationally, the infant mortality rate is 1 out of every 178 births. Our county ranks higher than the national average. As community care professionals, we are dedicated to turning this tragic statistic around by ensuring families have the knowledge and resources to safely take care of their infants. This week, we’re sharing FIVE of the most important things to know about keeping babies safe! 

1. Prenatal Care 

Prenatal care can help keep a mother and her baby healthy by giving doctors a chance to spot any health problems early, and providing moms with valuable information that supports positive pregnancy and birth outcomes. From July 2020 to June 2021, there were 16,544 births in Hillsborough County, and only 60% of those mothers received prenatal care throughout their pregnancy. That leaves roughly 6,620 mothers who missed at least some portion of their recommended prenatal appointments. Tragically, babies of mothers who do not get prenatal care are three times more likely to have a low birth weight and five times more likely to die than those born to mothers who do get care. We strongly encourage mothers to try and make all of their prenatal appointments to ensure mom and baby are healthy. If you are pregnant and not sure how to access care, contact us or the Healthy Start Coalition and we can get you connected! 

2. Seeking Support for Breastfeeding

In a study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies who are breastfed have a 21% lower risk of death in their first year, compared with babies never breastfed. In addition to physical benefits that protect babies, breastfeeding also builds physical/emotional bonding between mother and child through skin-to-skin contact and promotes more holding and stroking. Research shows the main reason 60% of moms don’t breastfeed as long as they intend to is that they don’t know where to turn for breastfeeding support. Champions offers Hillsborough County’s only no-cost, universal access to breastfeeding support by phone or in-person! Moms can call our breastfeeding warm line any time to speak to an IBCLC: (813) 817-8084. For free, in-person help, call our office at (813) 673-4646 ext 1127 to make an appointment with one of our IBCLCs.  

3. Choosing a Safe Caregiver

You are your child’s first protector and want to be there for them always. It takes a village to raise a child, though, and choosing safe alternate caregivers as part of that village is an important task! Anyone who will be caring for your child should be properly evaluated to ensure they are trustworthy enough to responsibly take care of your child. Here are a few characteristics to look for:
1. Look at how your child responds to being around this person. Are they happy to see them? Is this person happy to see your child? Does this person treat other children and adults they are around with care and respect?
2. Understand how this caregiver responds to pressure or stressful situations. Does this person have an even temper, and strong control over their emotions?
3. Be sure the caregiver is able to be alert and focused on your child. Are you confident that the person will not use any drugs or alcohol while caring for your child?
Trust your instincts when choosing your child’s caregiver.  

4. Learning to Cope with Frustration

When parenting stress is high, the likelihood of punitive parenting and child maltreatment increases. Although not all parents take the stress out on their children, high levels of stress or frustration can lead to baby shaking and other dangerous or deadly behaviors more often than many people realize. Shaken Baby Syndrome usually occurs when a parent or caregiver shakes a baby or toddler due to frustration or anger, which can lead to brain damage or even death. In addition to preventing this tragic outcome, learning to manage stress can give you the patience, energy, and perspective to be the parent you want to be. To manage stress you can try eating healthy, well-balanced meals; getting enough sleep and rest; practicing deep breathing techniques; time management techniques; and perhaps most importantly, not being afraid to ask for help! Friends, family, and community organizations like Champions and Healthy Start are all here to make your parenting journey a success.

4. Learning the ABCs of Safe Sleep

According to the CDC, there are about 3,500 sleep-related deaths among US babies each year. In 2019, 21 children under the age of 5 in the Tampa Bay region died from unsafe sleep. The ABCs of safe sleep will help prevent sleep-related SIDS. An easy way to remember these tips are to use the ABC acronym: Alone, on the Back, and in their Crib. Babies should always be put down on their backs in their crib or bassinet alone, without any pillows or blankets. This reduces the risk of baby suffocating and SIDS.

At Champions for Children and Healthy Start Coalition of Hillsborough County, we care deeply about the safety and wellbeing of kids in our community – and we know you do too! Keeping your baby safe can sometimes feel like an overwhelming job, but with the right knowledge and resources, it will become a matter of second nature as you put good habits into practice. You and your little one will enjoy many happy, healthy years to come! Do you have questions about keeping your baby safe? Call our Parent Warm Line at (813) 673-4646 ext. 7!

Links to Resources
Tips for Choosing a Safe Caregiver
Reducing the Risk of Infant Mortality
Infant Mortality Facts from the CDC
Healthy Start Coalition Website