Baby Safety Tips for Rookie Dads

To a "rookie" dad, everything about baby is a wonder. From the strength of your baby's tiny hand squeeze; the miniature clothing and the pleasant scent of your baby's skin to the crying that sometimes seems capable of shattering glass. You've entered in to a whole new world ? one that your baby will soon begin to explore, so it's important know how to keep him/her out of harm's way.

Boot Camp For New Dads, a non-profit program offered at Glens Falls Hospital (518-926-5902), as well as clinics, schools and churches across the U.S., focuses on the basics of safety for babies - from preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome to child-proofing the entire house.

Below are some of the main topics discussed during Boot Camp:


Some babies sniffle and cry softly for a brief period, while other babies' cry is similar to an unending siren for a four-alarm fire. Recognize your own frustration to crying. The basic rule of thumb is that if you're upset, DO NOT touch your child. It's better for baby to lie in a crib or carriage crying than to handle your baby when you're upset. Injuries such as Shaken Baby Syndrome occur due to the mixture of crying baby and frustrated caretaker.

If you are caring for baby and you become frustrated, then it's time to hand the baby over to someone else. If you're alone with the baby, then call a friend, relative or neighbor to help you out. A crying baby can frustrate anyone, even those with nerves of steel, so don't feel as if you have failed. There's nothing wrong with calling for "back up."


Almost 50 percent of car seats are not installed properly and some serve as virtual catapults. Read the directions and make sure you and mom know where the seat is safest, which direction it faces, where the straps go, and how to adjust them. If you're still having trouble installing the seat, you can always turn to your local police, who are well-versed in safety and can help with proper car seat installation.


Tossing your baby is common among dads mainly because of the quick smile and apparent joy the baby exhibits, but tossing does put your baby at risk of getting seriously hurt. Never toss your baby, as there will come a day when your growing child will add an unexpected twist in the air and you will not catch him or her.


Crawling and walking babies always seem to move the fastest when you least expect it. A baby's newfound mobility adds a broad new dimension of dangers. Even household chores are dangerous as a toddler can topple into and drown in a half-full bucket of soapy water. Beware of the trip down the stairs (use child gates) and that cup (or pot) of scalding coffee that can be pulled down with the tablecloth.


Be wary of distractions when you're with your baby ? answering the phone or front door, cleaning up spills, holding a "heated discussion" with your spouse, etc. Know where baby is at all times, secure him in the crib, swing, high chair or safety seat if you need to step away, or carry them with you. Oftentimes accidents happen when you're distracted. Never turn away "just for a second" when you've placed baby on your bed as he/she may roll off and break an arm or worse, and during bath time, where it only takes a split second for baby to slip underwater.


There's a plethora of safety equipment on the market today and it's an even better investment than that college fund you've just started. As we said before, a mobile baby can easily get into danger. Use child locks on the toilet to keep baby from playing (and drowning) in it; use a bath seat during bathing to help secure baby; cover electrical outlets; secure the doors to the toxic waste dump under the kitchen sink; use hook and eye fasteners to lock your toddler out of "off-limit" rooms such as the laundry room full of cleaning supplies or the home office. The list goes on, but if you're not sure you've thought of everything, just take a stroll down the baby aisle of your local grocery store, which usually carries tons of safety devices and check off any needed items.


Be aware of potential hazards such as rubber balloons; a piece popped in your baby's mouth can act as a seal over his trachea that is virtually impossible to remove. Even loose coins lurking underneath the furniture cushions can be choked on or quickly swallowed. Beware of small or age-inappropriate small pieces of games or toys. Rule of thumb is if it can fit through the center of an empty toilet paper tube, it shouldn't be around your baby.


Dad naturally feels a protective instinct regarding mom and baby. Acting on it can be beneficial. However, some men find themselves on the verge of going ballistic at the slightest threat. Dad must learn to know his limits. The well-being of your child extends way beyond car seats, locking cabinet doors, and covering electrical outlets. Parent behavior during pregnancy and after birth greatly impacts the family. The early stages of family formation are an excellent time to consider making necessary changes. If you or your mate have concerns about anger or frustration, get help.


It's important to learn how to interpret your baby's cry. Are they sick or in pain? Or, are they bored, hungry, uncomfortable from a soiled diaper or just in need of attention? Over time, you may become more accustomed to the "tone" of your baby's cry and will be able to deduce what they need.

Until then, use the "troubleshooter" approach ? that same approach you would use in fixing cars, computers or mechanical items. Be proactive and keep testing solutions ? are they hungry, wet, gassy, tired or uncomfortable? By troubleshooting, you'll minimize your anxiety and frustration, which tends to upset baby.

For more information about Boot Camp For New Dads, please call (714) 838-9392 or visit