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Keeping your newborn baby safe

Congratulations on the arrival of your new baby! Finally getting to meet your newborn baby and bring them home is a really exciting time, but it can be scary now that you have to keep your baby safe and protected, especially in these unprecedented times. This is a really normal feeling and part of adapting to being a parent. 

Due to COVID-19, you may have seen pictures and adverts on social media for facemasks for babies. This is extremely dangerous and a significant suffocation risk. According to Government guidelines no one under the age of 2 years or primary aged children who would require assistance should be wearing a mask; this is because they are unable to pull the mask away if they experience breathing difficulties.  

When you go out for a walk with your baby, ensure social distancing, keep to open spaces if possible and wash your hands before touching your baby. Current guidance says that people from other households should not be within 2 meters of each other, this includes your baby, so cuddles from others will have to wait for a while. 

Trying to keep your baby cool in hot weather can be a challenge. Babies should always be kept in the shade as their skin is still so delicate and can burn easily. Dress them in light clothing such as just a cotton vest and don’t be afraid on a very hot day to have them just in a nappy.  

Never cover the pram with any sort of blanket or even a muslin as it causes the temperature in the pram to rise significantly. Invest in a parasol that you can attach to the pram handle and move around depending on where the sun is. This allows air flow which will keep your baby cooler. Breastfed babies should not be given any water, as breastmilk naturally adapts to the hot weather and becomes more watery. But on a very hot day a formula fed baby can be given a very small amount of cool boiled water. 

Ideally the room temperature for your baby at night should be between 16 and 20 degrees. In this country during a heat wave it can be very difficult to keep the temperature down. Close the curtains to stop the sun shining though in the day and also keep the windows closed to stop the hot air coming inside. A good tip is to have a room fan (not pointed anywhere near the baby) with a bottle of ice in front to circulate cooler air.  

Always follow safe sleep guidelines and out your baby on their back to sleep, sharing the parental bedroom until 6 months, with no cot bumpers or toys in their sleeping area. The Lullaby Trust is a really useful resource for safe sleep and I recommend every parent to have a quick look to make sure what they’re doing follows their guidelines to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. 

A&E see quite a few babies come in that have had falls. It may surprise you how much your baby can move around by kicking their legs and that first roll over can often be a surprise. Always keep your baby safe from falls by changing their nappy on the floor if youre able to (can be tricky after a difficult birth or c-section) or supervise them constantly, even when just turning to get some wipes or get the nappy cream.  

Never leave your baby on the bed or sofa unaccompanied (for example when you got to the toilet) they are much safer in their cot or on the floor in the same room as you. 

Becoming a parent is a steep learning curve and accidents do happen, but try and reduce the risks by ensuring you are following guidelines. Make sure well-meaning relatives are giving the current advice by checking on the NHS website as the guidelines do change as new research is carried out. 

If you have any questions please do contact your local Health Visiting duty lineYou can also fill in our anonymous form and we'll post the answers on Friday to our Facebook page #CYPFChats

About the author

Chloe Vaughan is a Community staff nurse