Newborn basics for every parent and caregiver, part six

This should be basic rule number one, but perhaps is being last, it will stay in your mind the longest.

Each one of us is guilty of being too busy or being distracted. Let our children not suffer for it. Please read this, if no other blog of mine. It may save your child’s life. Share this with those you know who have or care for children. If your Au Pair is going to use your vehicle with your children in it, be sure to review the protocol your family has set to make sure a tragedy is avoided at all costs. If you have not yet made a plan or a regular protocol you use every time you get out of your vehicle, whether or not you have driven with the children, do it today! It takes two seconds to look in the back seat, even to look at an empty back seat.

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Basic rule number six: Check the back seat

Though it seems unthinkable, every summer brings tragic reports of children dying from heatstroke after having been accidentally left in hot cars. In 2010 alone, there were 49 of these fatalities in the United States. According to Janette Fennell, founder and president of Kids and Cars, babies younger than one year are at highest risk.

While it’s tempting to believe that this could never happen to you, the reality is that it can happen to anyone – even the most loving parent. Jodie Edwards understands this all too well. In 2008, her 11-month old daughter died after Edwards forgot to drop her off at daycare. “Somehow, and I know it is hard to understand, my brain flipped a switch,” she writes in a statement. “I went from knowing she was in the backseat to firmly believing she was safely at the babysitter’s.”

A mistake of this magnitude is often the result of a “perfect storm” of circumstances. Often, the baby –in a rear-facing car seat and unseen by the driver – has fallen asleep and isn’t making any noise. The parent, meanwhile, may be sleep-deprived and not in her usual routine, so her brain isn’t on top of the circumstances. “Saying that love for your child will stop your brain from failing is like saying that your love can stop your kidneys from failing,” says Fennell.

Create a routine that ensures you’ll look back every time you leave the car, advises Edwards. “Put something you will need–a purse, cell phone, wallet, or briefcase–in the back seat so you are forced to check it every time.”

Simple steps like these can go a long way toward easing the anxieties that come with caring for a new human. As scary as the world may seem, our common sense combined with some basic precautions are the best way to keep our families safe.



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