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article imageSafety mistakes even good moms make

By Aaron Robson     Feb 5, 2007 in Health
You turn your head, and your toddler is gleefully shredding the work papers you brought home. Or you put the laundry basket on the floor, and next thing you know the baby's tipped it over and is covered with underwear.
Mostly, we're lucky; our momentary lapses are harmless.
But some close calls are scarier -- what mom hasn't seen her child take a fall and felt her own heart plummet? -- and leave us swearing, I'll never do that again!
These moms, who tell stories of little blunders that almost caused big tragedies, were lucky too. But we can't depend on good fortune to protect our children.
A risky ride
"Shortly after Madeline was born, I took her to work to show her off. I was nervous about riding the commuter train with her, so my parents came with me. At the station, we rode an escalator with Madeline in her stroller, and as I reached the top, I raised the wheels and then put them down, missed, and hit the edge of the metal lip. To my horror, the stroller started to go up and over the front wheels as I was being pushed toward it by my mother -- and the 20 or so people behind her! Luckily, my father was there to grab it in the nick of time. Madeline was okay, but I still cringe when I think about that incident."
-- Lisa, Barrie, Ontario
How to stay safe:
Take the time to look for an elevator, even if it's a hassle. Most public places like train stations and shopping centers are handicap-accessible, so they should have one. Escalator steps are too narrow to accommodate both the front and the back wheels of strollers, which makes them more likely to flip, says Robert Tanz, M.D., former chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics's Section on Injury and Poison Prevention. And pushing a stroller onto the escalator prevents you from holding the handrail, so it's easier for you to lose balance.
If there's no alternative, fold your stroller and have someone else carry it. (If you're alone, ask an attendant or a passerby to hold it for you.) Then carry your child onto the escalator; this also keeps shoelaces, drawstrings, and fingers from getting caught.
Off-balance
"On my first outing with my 4-month-old, I went shopping for clothes at a local store. I placed her in her carrier on top of the bench in the dressing room so I could try on some outfits. As soon as I turned my head, she toppled over onto the floor and the carrier fell on top of her. I was horrified and probably screamed louder than she did. Luckily, she was okay. Now, no matter where we are, I always put the carrier on the floor!"
-- Gina, Goodyear, Arizona
How to stay safe:
Always put your baby's carrier down on the lowest surface you can find that's within arm's reach. That doesn't include car hoods! Watch out for couches too, since soft, plush surfaces can be unstable. Unless it's on the ground, the carrier isn't really stable. "An active baby, even at four months, can move or tip it by squirming around in the seat or pushing off on nearby objects with her feet," says Angela Mickalide, Ph.D., program director for the National Safe Kids Campaign. Most of the time, toppling over is harmless, but in some cases, a fall from as low as two feet can cause brain damage. When you're shopping for a carrier, look for one with a wide, sturdy base and a safety belt.
(For more situations, view the full story linked above).
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