The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has published a scientific paper on flying during pregancy and concludes that there is no significant risk associated with air travel during pregnancy. Concerns of labour being triggered by air travel appear to be unfounded, as is fear of harm caused by radiation emitted from security scanners. Radiation levels in security equipment are so low as not to pose a risk.
During high altitude flight, the body undergoes physiological change and the levels of oxygen on aircraft are lower than when on the ground. Neither of these have an impact on a baby's development during pregnancy.
There is an increased risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) to all air passengers but that risk remains the same for pregnant women. Pregnant women may also feel more uncomfortable than usual in the cramped conditions of a flight but that poses no health risk to their baby.
Although flying won't trigger an early labour, there is always a chance that women flying close to their due date may naturally fall into labour. That, and the higher chance of other obstetric emergencies occurring in the weeks preceding birth, lead the author of the research to suggest that the general policy of airlines not to carry passengers who are pregnant from 37 weeks gestation is sensible. Furthermore, women with increased risk of preterm labour, perhaps because of multiple births or other complications, should avoid air travel from 32 weeks onwards.
The research was carried out by Professor Ian Greer of the University of Liverpool and is published as an RCOG Scientific Impact Paper. Visit RCOG's website to read more about this study.
Having children at home should make you think more carefully about the safety of your home, and if you haven't previously had smoke detectors fitted, then now really is the time to do so. Smoke detectors now cost almost nothing and could so easily save your life, and your little ones, should they be triggered in the event of a fire.
They can be a pain, going off when you burn the sausages, but don't leave them in a hazardous state with the battery hanging out after a false alarm. If you do have to disable it because it goes off when you burn your cooking, clear the air and plug it straight in again.
Check smoke detectors on a regular basis. Manufacturers suggest checking monthly, but if they are in an accessible place, you can test them more frequently as you pass by.
A more deadly killer than smoke is carbon monoxide. This gas is emitted by gas appliances if they do not burn their fuel properly. Carbon monoxide is a silent and deadly killer. Carbon monoxide replaces the oxygen in air and when it fills our lungs, we cannot extract the oxygen required to breath and this will kill you. Faulty gas appliances are generally faulty over time and there is a chance that you could be poisoned by it over a long period. Classic symptoms are feelings of nausea and lethargy, and vomitting and feinting for no obvious reason. All of this can be avoided by fitting a carbon monoxide alarm - they cost a little more than smoke detectors, but what price can you put on saving a life?
Making and creating, cutting and gluing are all great fun and part of every child's creative journey - it is important to encourage them to have the confident to use the tools we have available rather than teaching them to be afraid of the tools. Scissors are an important tool to master, but should be used with caution. So, by teaching them how to use the scissors from early on, they will be able to cut and create safely without being fearful of accidents due to misuse.
Here are a few tips!
- Explain that scissors are useful but need to be used carefully. If not, they will be taken away.
- Scissors are sharp and are used for paper only (and not their hair or skirts or reading books!)
- No one must ever run with scissors or even walk about when using them. Cut when sitting at a table.
- Always use children's scissors with them.
- Store scissors downwards in a safe place out of reach.
- Remind children of the rules each time you get the scissors out. See if they can prompt you!
- Don't ever play with scissors - they are a craft tool and not for playing.
- Discourage children from walking with scissors in their hands, but when they must, make sure they hold them correctly: grasp them by the closed blades with the blades towards the floor.
- Always supervise.
- Always cut at a table so you can see that they are doing and they are encouraged to sit down.
Have fun - and be safe!
Whether its some long distance driving in England to stay with family or friends or a full blown European motoring vacation, the thought of taking children on a long car journey can seem a great idea when costing out the family holiday, but as the day approaches it seems more and more daunting.
The secret to a successful trip is to invest some time before you set off so you're prepared and ready to entertain, challenge and keep happy those delightful little passengers strapped in their cosy car seats in the back row.
- Think kids: The most important thing is to remember that they are only kids. They may not be interested in alpine skylines or breathtaking sea scape. Think about how they see things and try to think like them.
- Prepare the car: Before you go, have a good clear out of the car inside. Get rid of old crayons and rubbish tucked in between the seats. Throw away scrappy colouring books and freshen up the whole car. Get the kids helping clear up and polish, wipe and scrub away the year's mess and rubbish that may have accumulated. Give the car a good vacuum and clean the outside too. This way you'll feel much more ready to hit the road!
- Supplies: Make sure you have wipes, plasters, first aid kits etc on board just in case. Plus emergency drinks, sucky sweets (in case of feeling a bit car sick). Also you may wish to think about blankets, pillows, torch, fire extinguisher and jump leads... just in case!
- Safety inside the car: Keep the back of the car clear of any baggage or things rolling around, if you can. Get a good holder to keep all the supplies together and safe.
- Treats: Ration the treats and entertainment you bring along. Don't use up all your good ideas before you even hit the motorway.
- Take some different coloured mega blocks and can see if the children can arrange them in order when you shout out the colours. So, say, red, blue green and see how long it takes them to assemble accordingly. For babies, just getting them to play with a couple of block can easily amuse them
- Bubbles - blow bubbles (especially good for babies).
- Balls - to have a run about and play in the open air when you stop.
- Books - old favourites and perhaps a few new ones. CDs of spoken books are great too.
- Post it notes - allow them to write notes and stick them everywhere! Easily removed and their arms won't stretch too high to obscure the driver's view.
- Make up a story inspired by what you see outside.
- Wool, hole punch and old birthday cards - get the children to punch hold, then thread with the wool.
There is a constant public health message that we must protect ourselves from the harmful damage that the sun can cause, but more importantly, we must look after our children in the sun! We still have a limited understanding of long term damage that can be caused short term exposure to the sun, but increasingly it is believed that a single episode of sunburn during childhood could lead to skin cancer in later life. It is essential, therefore, that you look after children when they play out in the sun, especially when on holiday to hotter parts of the world. You must also ensure that anyone else looking after your children, at nursery, with a childminder, or at school, also looks after their health.
What precautions should you take to protect your children in the sun?
- Apply sun screen with a sun protection factor of at least 50
- Re-apply sun cream throughout the day at two hourly intervals
- Re-apply sun cream after being in water, even if the cream states that it is water resistant
- Make sure your child's body is clean before applying sun cream, rub off any sand particularly before applying lotion
- Have the children wear sun hats, make sure that the backs of necks are covered too
- Avoid being in the sun altogether during the hottest parts of the day
- Create your own shade to sit in on the beach or in other exposed places
- Wear clothes with a stated sun protection factor
- In really hot places, keep t-shirts and hats on when swimming or playing in water
Be aware that sun cream is NOT recommended for babies under 6 months because their skin is delicate and very thin. Chemicals in sun block may actually harm the skin of a baby. Instead, make sure that they are protected by clothing and keep them in a shaded place, out of the sun.
Paddling pools are incredibly reasonable at the moment and for a small amount of money you can pick up an inflatable pool that is great fun! Here are a few important tips to keep the children safe in and around the pool.
- Never leave a baby toddler or child in a paddling pool even for the shortest time. It takes a moment for them to slip under the water which can be fatal. Children can drown in the smallest depth of water.
- If you need to leave them to get something, or to answer the front door or the phone, take them out of the pool while you are away. Make it clear they are not allowed to get into the pool without you there. Take small children who may not understand or be able to follow instructions with you, keep them out of the garden while you are absent.
- Check the temperature of the water to make sure it is not too cold (if you've just filled it) or too warm if it's the end of a hot day. With enough sun, the water can get very warm.
- The grass may get wet and slippery around a paddling pool so be aware of the potential for accidents when the children climb out.
- Suncream is essential in the summer so keep the children covered up even when playing in the paddling pool. Keep them in loose clothes (T-shirt and light trousers or leggings) if there is a lot of sun.
- Make sure the children are aware that inside the pool is very slippery. Suggest they kneel rather than stand if unsteady on their feet.
- Keep an eye on any bees or wasps that might find themselves in the pool. Remove them with a slotted spoon to ensure they don't harm or sting the children.
- Make sure the children walk and don't run round the pool so they don't trip and accidentally fall in.
- Remove all toys at the end of the day so no one is tempted to reach in and get something from the pool and accidentally fall in.
- Keep an eye on the dept. After rainfall it could be more full than when you last looked.
Enjoy your pool!
A toddler in Plymouth has died after being caught in a window blind, his mother found him hanging from his bedroom blind one evening and tragically he was dead. The 21 month old child had been left just for a few minutes so his mother could prepare him some milk before bed, however, in that short time, he had managed to wind the cord round his neck. He managed to reach the blind by climbing on a chest of drawers.
The Royal Society For The Prevention of Accidents (RSPOA) has stated that since 1999 at least fifteen toddlers have been strangled by blind and curtain cords - which is a staggering and dreadful figure. They have said that the cords are a real hazard that people just don't think about. Toddlers of about 2 years are at most risk because their heads are big and get caught, they are adventurous and want to climb and explore, they don't understand the dangers and they are more susceptible to suffocation because their windpipes have not fully developed.
There are new British Standards which will help supplies sell blinds that are safe for consumers to use, however there are many thousands of homes which will contain blind and curtains that do not comply with the standards.
Here are a few simple measures to make your existing blinds as safe as possible:
- Keep all looped cords out of reach (including if you stand on a chest or bed to reach them!)
- Keep cots and beds away from blinds
- Use a cleat or hook to wind up any loose cord
- Secure the cord to the wall
- Use a chain breaker which will break if pressure is applied.
When buying new blinds try and opt for blinds with hidden cords, cords that don't form a loop, or those operated by wand that you wind or with gears.
Teaching your toddler some basic rituals when it comes to everyday livinhg is a great and easy way to introduce some good (and advisable!) habits into their lives. The more they get used to following these simple rules, the easier it will be to keep them safe and actually introduce them to some good practice.
- Hands Please - Make sure you get into the habit of washing hands in certain situations: before eating, after playing outside, after going to the toilet and after stroking pets. Make it more fun by having nice smelly soap that the children can reach and use on their own if they are old enough. Make sure there's a step to reach the tap and a nice fresh towel to wipe clean.
- Going To The Toilet - Teach the little ones how to wipe their bottoms as soon as they start going to the toilet. If they practice how to do it properly on their own from the start they will get into the habit and keep doing it when they go to the toilet alone. Make sure you teach them how to flush and close the toilet lip safely. Use moist wipes to ensure they are fresh.
- Teeth - Make sure you get your child to wash their teeth twice a day and do yours at the same time too to show them that you do it as well. Supervise and do the washing, but also let them try too and have a brush about. Explain that good brushing means healthy teeth and no uncomfortable cavities!
- Food Fun - Try and keep to a healthy diet. Sweet things are allowed, of course, but keep them to a minimum and after having eaten the healthy foods. Create a food chart to ensure you eat five fresh fruits or vegetables each day. Encourage the children to pick which fruit to have at the supermarket. Eat the fruit and vegetables in different ways: cooked in stews, cooked an their own, raw, chopped into slices or sticks. Make sure you choose colourful vegetables with your meals and even try presenting in different ways. Could broccoli and carrot sticks be a forest? Explain that sweet things are fine in moderation but that is the vitamins, minerals, dairy products, carbohydrates and all good foods that help us grow, give us energy and have fun. And, of course, drink lots of water too!
- Keep the Family Moving - Explain that keeping active is a fabulous way to have fun, keep healthy and keep happy! Do walks or bike rides together, or go for swimming sessions as a family. Walk to school or nursery when you can and walk to the local shops too. Run about in local parks or open spaces or head to soft play centres to climb and run and swing about. Get a bike for your little one as early as you can and encourage them to ride. Dance about and sing songs too and be as active as you can.
- Sleep Time - Getting enough sleep is vital for you and your child so make sure you get into the habit of good and long nights sleep from an early age. Of course there are often troubles with sleeping, but do you best to get them to sleep alone and go back to sleep when they wake in the night. Stick to regular bed times, make sure they are warm enough (though, not too hot!), that they have teddies/comforters nearby, that the room is dark but not too dark to make it alarming if they wake.
- Be Safe - Teach them some basic safety requirements and they will be less likely to have accidents throughout their childhood. Show them how to climb stairs and come down safely. Show them how to get into chairs and get out again. And practise over and again to make sure they are confident and safe.
- Sunny Days - Always apply suncream as a matter of course and keep it handy throughout the day should you need to re-apply. Make it a part of your routine when leaving the house so it becomes normal to apply the cream with minimum fuss.
There are lots of essentials that you'll want to have ready to welcome a new baby into the world! If you are expecting a baby, take time in the lead up to research the items that you need and seek out what you want. Don't forget that baby's don't always arrive to plan and may arrive early, so try not to leave everything until the last minute. Most likely you'll receive gifts from friends when your baby is born, but you don't know what you might receive unless friends and family consult you first!
Here is a checklist of some of the things you may want to have ready for your new baby:-
- You probably want a moses basket and blankets for the first bed and later a new cot and bedding, perhaps a cot mobile too
- You may want blackout blinds for the bedroom
- You need to buy baby's bottles, teething rings and a toothbrush
- You need lots of clothes for day and night as well as socks and booties
- You need plenty of nappies and muslins, a changing mat, baby wipes and cotton wool
- You should have some toys and fabric books suitable for baby's
- You may want a hairbrush and nail scissors
- You may want to buy some books to consult to help you with the first months
- You'll find a baby bath easier than a full sized one
- You'll want a pram, car seat and stair gates, perhaps a play den, fire guard and other safety items
- You'll need a high chair for feeding before long
There are lots of things you need during the first few months, but plan ahead and enjoy buying all these things in the run up to the birth of your new baby!
Road safety is one of the most important topics that we can train our children on - cars and roads are so dangerouss for young children, but teaching them from an early age will help them to treat the highway code with respect. Here are some stark facts about road safety:
- 161 children died on the road in 2006
- 26,000,000 cars are on our roads
- If a child is hit by a car driving at 40 mph most die.
- If a child is hit by a car driving at 30 mph half die.
- If a child is hit by a car driving at 20 mph one child in 20 will die.
Teach children early how to cross the road in six steps:
- Think - look for a subway or crossing first. Don't cross on a bend.
- Stop - choose a good place to cross, stand on the kerb, away from parked cars and other obstructions
- Look And Listen - look in all directions and listen carefully
- Wait - until its safe to cross
- Cross carefully - looking and listening as you go
- Arrive safely
Make sure you show them while you tell them and also ensure you follow these rules yourself when crossing.
Teach your child some other points:
- Walk - don't run and stick to pavements when you can. If there is no pavement, walk on the right side of the road so you see the approaching traffic. Walk in single file
- Parked Cars - don't cross between parked cars. It makes your view of the road less clear
- Balls - don't run into the road to chase a lost ball, or indeed any other toy or object
- Gates - keep garden gates shut in case the children are running and run out unexpectedly
- Catch-up - never run into the road or along the pavement to catch up a friend who is in front of you
Coroner Andrew Haigh has called for a ban on looped cords for blinds and curtains having held two inquests for two toddlers who died having been caught up in such cords. His call comes almost a year to the day after a Scottish sheriff also called for such a ban following another toddler' death. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) report that between one or two children are killed each year by looped blind cords. Such blind and curtain mechanisms have long been banned in the USA, Australia and Canada, and it's time they were removed from sale in the UK too.
If you have looped curtain or blind cords in your home, make them safe for children. Follow advice from the British Blind and Shutter Association who publish a leaflet on how to make blinds safe. Their advice includes:-
- Ensure that chains and cords aren't within reach of children, especially when they are standing in their cot or on their bed
- Don't put sofa's or other furniture near to such cords that children could climb on
- Make sure cords are secured and out of reach, you can secure cords with cleats, or cord tidies; cord tidies secure to the wall, keeping the cord taut and safe from entanglement
- Ensure that chains have a plastic break connector - a small clip holding two ends of the chain together, these are designed to break under pressure and preventing an accident
If you are fitting new blinds, then look for mechanisms that do not require a looped chain or cord, such as pull wands, spring operated roller blinds, concealed or geared mechanisms with a wand that twists to operate the blind. You may be able to cut looped curtain cord and tie a pull handle to each end, removing the loop which is the main cause of strangulation in young children.
Our houses generally offer a safe environment for young children, but a sales ban on looped cords and chains for blinds and curtains could save one or two little lives every year.
Children are an industry - you can easily lavish thousands on your baby in the first few weeks of their lives, and indeed in the run up to their arrival, but babies needn't cost the earth; there are ways in which you can economise, and you aren't a bad parent for doing so!
When it comes to buying certain items, particularly ones where safety is involved, you should buy new for each baby. For example, you should buy a brand new car seat for your baby because you don't know the history of a second hand one - has it been involved in an accident and could it be structurally weakened? When it comes to buying baby bottles, you can continue using ones from earlier children, just buy a new set of teats and you'll save yourself considerably on the cost of extra bottles.
When furnishing your nursery or buying other baby paraphernalia such as stair gates, pushchairs or toys, you can happily buy second hand or choose cheaper models. Pretty much every item sold in our shops has to pass safety standards in order to go on sale, so a cheap cot, pram or stair gate should theoretically be just as safe and sound as the most expensive ones. Indeed, the price of goods may not even reflect the quality of the furniture so much as the retail markup and fashion.
Shop online and use price comparison websites and you will save a king's ransom! The same furniture can vary in price enormously, although make sure you factor in the cost of taxes and delivery which can make cheap items suddenly appear rather expensive.
You can also buy second hand clothes, either at 'nearly new' sales organised locally or online at sites such as eBay. Clothes tend to be sold in bundles on eBay and you may find that you can fit out your baby for the first couple of years for very little money at all!
Your children are going to cost you a fortune over the coming years, and there's no shame in economising, especially while they are too young to have an opinion on pre-owned goods. Perhaps a frugal upringing will set them up with a valuable life skill!
As with so much 'baby gear', there's quite a choice when it comes to buying the right mattress for your baby; because of the choice, cots are rarely sold with a mattress. Besides offering a comfortable sleep, choosing the right mattress is largely about reducing risk of harm to your baby. Although your baby is most unlikely to come to harm whilst in their bed, there are precautions to be aware of to make that tiny chance even smaller still.
Even though you may prefer a soft mattress, babies need a firm one. If a baby sinks into their mattress then they may struggle to turn over and move. A firm mattress will also give them the support they need as their back and neck develops.
You must always buy a new mattress for your baby. At one time, second-hand mattresses were thought to be a causal factor for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) or Cot Death. The causes of SIDS are still largely disputed, but ensuring a new mattress for your baby is one precautionary measure that could just reduce that risk. A new mattress will also be firm whereas one that's been used before may have become softer.
Ensure that the mattress fits snugly to the edges of the cot. Cots come in standard sizes, as do the mattresses, but if you find that the mattress isn't a good fit, exchange it for a different one. If the mattress doesn't fit to the edges of the cot then there is a risk that your baby could get caught between the cot and the mattress. Although that sounds trivial, baby's aren't very agile in their early stages and becoming trapped in this way could lead to agitation, frustration and panic.
Mattresses are made from various materials and prices vary accordingly. Don't assume that the most expensive mattress is the best - it's largely a matter of preference. So long as each mattress displays the correct safety marques, it has been deemed safe to use; even the cheapest mattresses have to pass stringent safety checks in most countries.
A cotton cover is usually better than an artificial one because cotton allows the skin to breath properly. Internally the mattress may be foam, sprung or fibre. Foam is the cheapest option, usually providing a good firm surface. Sprung and fibre mattresses 'breath' slightly better.
Hypoallergenic mattresses are good for babies who suffer, or may be at higher risk of, allergies. If you have a history of allergies in your family, including food or animal allergies, hayfever or asthma, then paying a bit more for a hypoallergenic mattress offers a good precaution. Hypoallergenic mattresses include a quilted top layer that can be washed at high temperature to kill dust mites that aggravate allergies.
Your newborn baby is going to spend a lot of time sleeping - make sure they're welcomed into the world with a good bed, but don't feel that you have to pay the earth to give them peaceful nights!
The use of the internet and computers in schools is becoming increasingly important for learning, research and having fun, but how can we ensure appropriate, and safe use of such a phenomenal resource? ICT is covered in the Early Years Foundation Stage Areas of Learning and Development, so it is recognised that little ones of reception or pre-school age should be introduced to the computer.
The first thing is to do is chat with your child about the internet and what it can be used for. Show them your emails, show them how to type keys and letters on screen.
Try a bit of 'art' with a drawing package, make it fun and simple.
Talk about the internet and what can be found there. Look up a favourite character together, or a local landmark you have been to or a map of your home area. Keep it simple and fun!
As they become more confident and begin to work independently, just be there to guide and help them practice their skills, learn about the keyboard and navigate the child-friendly sites that exist.
Place the computer somewhere central so you can keep an eye on how things are looking. Don't put computers in the bedroom if you can help it. Make it a family event when you do some online games or learning together as a family. Talk about what you are doing on line and make it easy for the children to flag up a problem if they encounter something.
The internet is a fabulous resource, but be aware of the potential dangers of allowing little children too much access.
We are all so conscious of dangers when we take children out: cars on the road, tripping on pavements, falling from a swing. However there are 400 children admitted to hospital every WEEK with injuries following accidents in the home. This is a staggering number - especially when this is just those under the age of five!
What we have to remember is that children and toddlers and babies are constantly growing and experimenting and exploring. The way they learn is to watch and copy us. So, we need only take a look through their eyes to see what they might see and then we'll realise how accidents - that are totally avoidable - can happen. And, we'll see how easy it is to prevent those accidents taking place.
Tablets and pills - many toddlers can take off the child-resistant caps on bottles of pills. The child-resistant caps make it more difficult to open, but are not impenetrable for a child. A simple adult painkiller could poison a child. They see you take a few, and it helps your headache. If they get hold of them, they take a few and it could be disastrous. Toddlers may think they are sweets, that they taste nice, that Daddy has them so why shouldn't I, that they make them grow strong. So, keep bottles of pills well out of reach.
Lighters and matches - children can ignite lighters by accident and can cause a match to inflame by just playing with them They don't realise the danger they could cause. There are 6,000 house fires every year caused by children under ten! When they look at a match or lighter, children see the flash of light, the spark, it's like magic. Keep the matches and lighters out of reach.
Stairs - About 800 under fives are taken to hospital each WEEK having fallen down stairs. They develop the climbing skills need to get up stairs very quickly... almost without you noticing they could suddenly be able to get up a few steps. It can be dreadfully dangerous if they fall down. Kids think its fun to go up, it's a challenge and everyone else does it so why shouldn't I? Well, if they do they might fall and hurt themselves, get a stair gate and remember to use it!
Knives and utensils in the kitchen - It's so easy to forget that little ones can one day reach kitchen surfaces. Make sure all knives, and heavy utensils are well back just in case they reach up and something comes crashing down.
Hot Drinks - tea and coffee can scald and burn a baby's skin. Don't put hot drinks on low tables or on unstable surfaces. Tea and coffee is made with boiling water and stays hot for a long time. If they they go to try your tea without you seeing, and pour it over themselves by accident - it could scar your child for life!
It's not all gloom and doom! But being very aware of potential dangers is vital in order for you and your child to have a relaxed home! If you make just a few changes to the way you do things and if you just keep one step ahead if you can... you'll be okay!
A few final tips:
- Fit a smoke alarm and TEST it frequently.
- Keep all medicines, cleaning fluids in a locked cupboard out of a child's reach.
- Fit stair gates and safety guards round fires.
- Keep hot drinks on tables that are out of reach. Don't drink hot tea with your baby in your arms.
- Keep saucepan handles, electric flexes etc well out of reach.
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