A Mother’s Story: With safe sleep, small items can create big problems.

Sara was not new to parenting. As a mother to three older children, she felt totally confident when her youngest child, Benjamin, was born. Benjamin was healthy in every sense of the word. He was developing properly, feeding regularly, pleasant and a great sleeper. Sara felt no need to worry; little Benjamin was perfect. Every night when Sara and her husband put him to bed, they’d kiss his cheek, hand him his little Lovey (a small blanket with a stuffed toy sewn onto corner) and shut the door.

Sound familiar? Every night similar nighttime routines are practiced by parents around the world. However, on December 14, 2016, an ordinary night almost turned into a nightmare for Sara and her husband.

lovey-blanket-safe-sleep
The Lovey blanket used by Benjamin while he slept.

“Last night about 30 minutes after putting Benjamin (4 months) to bed, we were on the couch relaxing and all was quiet on the baby monitor so I figured he was down for the night. I heard his little Owlet Monitor he wears on his foot start alarming on my phone showing “low oxygen” so I ran back to him figuring it must be a false alarm. I walked in to find his little lovey blanket on top of his face. 

Joel tried keeping him awake while I called 9-1-1. They were able to come and help him get breathing again with a few compressions. An ambulance took him to the ER and they got him stable and he was able to come home after a few hours. But the doctors and nurses all agreed that the Owlet alarm helped because I wouldn’t have checked on him otherwise. That stupid little lovey is so small and lightweight and he usually puts himself to sleep by rubbing his cheek on it. I thought it would be ok to leave on the side of his bed and I definitely didn’t ever think he would be suffocated by it. Really mad at myself for that. So don’t make my mistake! Nothing in their cribs, not even tiny little lovey toys!”

Paramedics who rushed Benjamin to the ER for further treatment.

When it comes to safe sleep, even small items can create big problems. Thankfully Benjamin’s parents arrived in a timely manner to act. Benjamin is now approaching his first birthday, healthy and happy and the memory of this night serves as a reminder to parents everywhere to keep items out of the crib during sleep.

In January, we shared the top five correlating factors that families who experienced red notifications shared with us, in an effort to promote safe sleep conditions and shed light on common factors that coincided with the Owlet notifying for oxygen levels below the preset range.

Airway obstruction was one of these five correlating factors, with 11 percent of families who reported experiencing a low oxygen notification discovered their baby had restricted breathing.*

September is Baby Safety Month and in an effort to reduce the risk sleep-related injuries of infants, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has established safe sleep guidelines that parents should follow to keep their baby safe when sleeping. These guidelines, designed for the first year of life, include:

  • Following the ABCs of safe sleep: Placing baby Alone, on his/her Back, in his/her Crib (or other safe sleeping place).
  • In following this advice, do not place any soft bedding including loose blankets or pillows, stuffed animals, or other soft objects in your baby’s sleeping area. This also includes crib bumper pads.
  • Your baby should sleep on a firm mattress that does not conform to his/her head shape, and should not be placed to sleep on a regular bed, couch, or another soft surface that could contour to his/her body and create a risk of accidental suffocation. AAP recommends using a firm mattress with a tightly fitted sheet only.
  • Consider room-sharing with your baby, but not bed-sharing. The AAP recommends doing this for at least the first six months and optimally, for the first year of life.
    Benjamin – 12 months old
  • Keep your baby at a comfortable temperature to avoid overheating. Dress him/her in appropriate clothing that does not cover the face or head. Consider using a safe wearable blanket, like a sleep sack.
  • Using the Owlet Baby Monitor isn’t a reason to ignore safe sleeping guidelines. The Owlet Monitor is not intended to diagnose, treat, mitigate, cure, or prevent any disease or condition. The Owlet Baby Monitor is only intended to assist you in tracking your baby’s well-being and is not intended to replace you as a caregiver. You are ultimately responsible for your baby but we believe using the Owlet while practicing safe sleep and other healthy parenting practices can help.

Do you know someone who could benefit from knowing this information? Please pass it along and follow our blog during the month of September for more safe sleep tips.

*We cannot say definitively the cause of the low oxygen levels but we can report the facts that were given to us when these different families shared their experiences.

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How to Design a Cute but Safe Nursery

Hours could be spent scouring Pinterest for ideas and inspiration for beautifully-decorated nurseries. As you consider each component of your baby’s nursery and pour your heart into each detail, consider these design ideas and, more importantly, these safety protocols to help you design a timelessly trendy yet safe and secure nursery for your baby to sleep and grow in comfort and style.

Opt for hand-crafted, durable furniture built to last

Real, solid wood and durable designs are trending right now as more people are viewing furniture as an investment. Nursery furniture is no exception. Not only is it more aesthetic, it’s also safer for baby. Composite, pressed, and other types of manufactured wood can contain formaldehyde, and can also be more prone to breaking or tipping.

Make sure that you anchor pieces of furniture that can be a tipping hazard, like dressers and wardrobes. Consider placing corner guards on low, sharp cornered furniture or fixtures such as fireplaces.

Create meaningful DIY projects

Putting the time and energy into handmade décor or furniture adds more meaning to your nursery and the memories made there. From a hand-painted crib and coordinating furniture to a custom painting, create a custom nursery just for your baby. As you begin these projects, make sure to use water-based paints that will be safe for your baby once the teething stage sets in.

As you hang artwork, consider using canvas materials rather than heavy frames to avoid injury or damage if they fall.

Create a comfortable feeding area

Choose a comfy chair with a cute, matching print where you can spend those late nights feeding in comfort. Place a table or small shelf nearby to hold supplies and a lamp, and consider an ottoman or foot rest for optimal comfort. A feeding area is a cozy addition to a nursery where you can feed your baby safely that will help avoid the temptation to bring the baby into your bed.

Remember to secure any electrical cords to the lamp or other devices safely out of baby’s reach. Similarly, place outlet covers over outlets not being used to prevent electrical accidents.

Crib design: go for simple

Not only are straight, simple lines trendy, but it’s also safer for your baby to keep it simple in the crib. The only things in the crib should be the mattress and a fitted sheet. Avoid the temptation to adorn the crib with cute pillows, animals, and blankets as these are a suffocation hazard.

The placement of the crib should also be considered, for design and safety purposes. Proximity to the changing table is convenient for those inevitable leaky-diapers, but should be safely away from the window so baby can’t reach any cords or curtains and pull them down.

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Baby-Proofing Guide for New Parents

You’ve got a crib and the perfect car seat… but has your house been baby-proofed? Today, we’re recapping information from this post, and adding a few additional tips, in order to create the ultimate baby-proofing guide for new parents.

In the nursery

  • Tightly wind baby monitor cords, or choose a cordless option, and keep them away from the crib.
  • Keep all other cords behind furniture or in places where baby cannot reach them.
  • Instead of plastic outlet covers (which can pose a choking risk), try sliding covers like these.
  • Secure dressers and other heavy furniture to the wall.
  • Store toys in open boxes or other containers that won’t slam down on your baby’s hands. Avoid materials (like wicker) that can be easily pulled off or worn down.

In the kitchen

  • Store all cleaning supplies out of a child’s reach, or, if that’s not a possibility, in a cabinet with an effective child lock.
  • If your oven or stove knobs are within your child’s reach, try these great stove knob covers.
  • Try to keep pet food in an area that is not child-accessible, as it can be choking hazard to your little ones.
  • If you have any sharp corners, invest in corner covers. (Especially if you have tall babies like I do.)

In the bathroom

  • Make sure you store all bath products, especially bath, and baby oils, in a safe spot in child-resistant packaging. Check the ingredients of your bath and baby oils for liquid hydrocarbons, as these can be very harmful to a baby’s lungs.
  • Use non-slip mats in (and out) of the tub. If you have floors that get slippery, this is especially important.
  • Cover the tub spout (with a cover like this adorable whale) to protect baby’s head in case he falls.
  • To avoid water that is too hot, always test the water temperature first. You can also set your water heater to 120 degrees F, or install an anti-scalding device to your bath spout and sink faucet.
  • Keep all cords (from hairdryers, curling irons, etc.) out of reach; they can be a strangulation and a burning hazard.

In the family/living room

  • If you have large areas with windows, or sliding glass doors, mark them with stickers to avoid any collisions.
  • Cut off or tie up any dangling window cords or curtain sashes.
  • Secure TVs and other heavy furniture to the wall.
  • Place tall, unsecured lamps or other decorative items behind furniture, where they can’t topple over.
  • Keep heavy items on lower, sturdy furniture, in as inaccessible a location as possible (pushed all the way back into a shelf, etc.).

By the stairs

  • Use a baby gate to limit your child’s accessibility to the stairs. Consider the following when choosing a baby gate:
    • Are the stairs heavily used throughout the day?
    • Do you carry items like laundry up the stairs?
    • Do you need a larger area gated than just the top and bottom of the stairs?
    • Do you have any preferences on how the gate appears aesthetically?
  • If utilizing a baby gate is not possible, consider placing a temporary barrier, like a solid bench or a chair placed on its side in front of the stair opening.

When you’re away from home

  • Check for choking hazards (e.g. small toys, pet food, etc.) and ensure that these items are out of reach.
  • Ensure that all cleaning supplies and other chemicals are safely stored.
  • Where appropriate, bring and use outlet covers for accessible electrical outlets.
  • Move any plants out of your child’s reach, especially if they’re toxic.
  • When in doubt, get down on the floor at your baby’s level and examine the area.

Have we missed anything? What would you add to our baby-proofing guide?

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5 Tips for Baby Sun Safety

Summer is upon us, and with it, all of the fun outdoor activities that come with warmer weather. Help keep your baby safe in the sun by following our five tips for baby sun safety.

1. Keep babies six months and younger out of the sun.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that infants avoid sun exposure, and are dressed in, “lightweight long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and brimmed hats that shade the neck.” Because your infant’s skin is very delicate, it is more susceptible to sunburn, so keep her shaded as much as possible. The AAP suggests using a minimal amount of SPF 15 when adequate clothing and shade are not accessible; though please consult with your doctor before doing so.

2. For babies 6 months and older, use a broad spectrum sunscreen with zinc oxide whenever you’re outside.
This applies to both sunny and overcast days. Make sure to use a sunscreen that combats both UVA and UVB rays, and has a power of at least SPF 15. It’s also a good idea to double-check to make sure that your selected sunscreen contains zinc oxide, as this is one of the most effective compounds in protecting against the sun’s harmful rays. The AAP advises using one ounce of sunscreen per application for a young adult. Remember to reapply sunscreen every two hours, and after swimming or sweating.

3. Try to avoid the sun during its peak intensity hours.
The call to avoid the sun during its peak intensity hours (from 10 am – 4 pm) is an admonition that comes directly from the AAP. One of the best defenses against the harmful ultraviolet radiation that can cause sunburns (and worse) is avoiding the sun during this window. If you do find yourself outside during this time period, please make sure your child is appropriately protected with sunscreen and is shaded from direct sunlight.

4. Use rash guards and hats to further protect your child from sunburn.
Another way to protect your baby from the sun is to put her in a rash guard that has a broad spectrum SPF 50+ fabric, and a brimmed hat that also contains sun protection. These SPF 50+ sun suits are another great option for your baby, as they are designed to be swimwear but also keep all of baby’s skin protected.

5. Stay hydrated.
Staying hydrated while out in the sun is vitally important. If you’re breastfeeding, your own hydration becomes even more important as you are your child’s primary supply of fluids. However, whether you breastfeed or bottle-feed, you’ll most likely need to feed your baby at more frequent intervals when outside in hot weather.

 

We hope these tips help empower you to keep your baby safe in the sun. For more tips, please check out this post about water and sun safety, as well as this information from the AAP.

 

 

 

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