Avoid These Common Winter Mistakes Parents Make With Their Babies

Taking care of an infant or baby in the first year can be exhausting, and it sometimes feels like safety standards change by the day. My first child was born in January and I scarcely wanted to leave the house for fear of slipping on the ice and injuring her or her getting cold. Most of the time, to avoid the latter, I over-bundled my little bundle of joy.

I will never forget the time we walked to her pediatrician (one mile away) with her in a jacket, covered in a blanket, wrapped in a bundle, and the rain cover on the Phil & Ted's. By the time I checked on her a few minutes into the walk, she was sweating profusely. Yes, it's possible to overdo it and I shudder to think what might have happened if I hadn't checked.

This is why I feel for Brigit Hippen, the mother of one 2-month-old baby who lost her baby two years ago when she fell asleep after using a hair dryer to warm her. She left the hair dryer running on the little girl and the little girl died.

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She has been convicted of involuntary manslaughter and certainly she deserves it. Her baby died with a temperature of 108 degrees after she fell asleep with a hair dryer pointed at the baby. But she isn't the only one who has made mistakes trying to keep a baby warm.

Winter can be a dangerous time and here are some common mistakes:

  • Over-bundling your baby: Parents shouldn't check their baby's hands and feet for cold. In fact, they should be checking the back of their neck. I made this mistake with my daughter in the winter when she was a newborn, and I only discovered it because she was drenched in sweat. I felt so guilty. I thought good moms kept their babies warm.
  • Putting the coat on before buckling baby into car seat: This is a big no-no because in an accident, a coat can compress and your baby isn't as protected as you think. It's much better to skip the coat and put a blanket over your baby.
  • Layering blankets in the crib: Most parents know not to do this, but it seems counter-intuitive, right? A cold baby needs blankets, right? Unfortunately, this is simply not true. Blankets pose a suffocation risk, so it's much better to have them in a sleep sack. The AAP recommends that babies not use blankets until they are 12 months old.
  • Space heaters: There are some safe space heaters for use around babies, but you have to be very careful and pick the right ones. A crawling baby and a hot surface are a very bad combo and could prove painful and tragic if mom and dad aren't careful.

There is no excuse for leaving a hair dryer pointed at a baby, but what makes this story extra tragic is that this mother probably believed she was doing the right thing for her baby. We all are guilty sometimes of overdoing something in our quest to be a perfect mom.

My guess is no matter what punishment the courts give her, nothing could be worse than the inner torment and guilt she must feel.

Do you ever overdo it in the winter or make these common mistakes?

 

Image via Shannon Phantom/Flickr

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