Baby health and safety
Dr Doshen Naidoo, specialist paediatrician
• Cot death is a very concerning risk. Only allow a baby to sleep on its tummy beyond three months of age when its neck is strong enough.
• Always lie babies on their backs with their heads lying to either side.
• Have a reliable thermometer. Children can have febrile seizures from six months of age to six years of age.
• All premature babies should have an apnea monitor for the first three months of life.
• All children should be vaccinated as per the EPI schedule. There is no adverse effect from vaccines.
• A basic CPR or childminder course is recommended for all parents or caregivers.
Dr Tashmin Bisseru, specialist paediatrician and intensivist
• Put all medicine up and away and out of sight. Try not to take your medication in front of children as they quickly mimic behaviour.
• Try not to buy toys with batteries, as these can easily be taken out and ingested.
• Kids love to reach, so make sure that all objects are kept away from edges of countertops.
• Make sure children under two years old are in rearfacing car seats during car trips. It is also important to have the right size car seat, so check the specifications for weight, height and age limits.
• We know you’re often in a hurry, but before you get in the car, take a few seconds to walk all the way around your parked car to check for children. Designate a safe spot for children to wait when nearby vehicles are about to move and make sure the drivers can see them.
• Keep medication locked up and away from children to prevent accidental ingestion.
• Always consult your pharmacist or paediatrician before administering medication.
• Always use the measuring device that comes with the medication.
• Read instructions carefully and do not administer medication in the dark.
• Dispose of expired or unused or unfinished medication.
• Get your child to an emergency room immediately if there has been an accidental ingestion of medication.
Midlands Medical Centre
• When carrying a baby, ensure that you always support his or her head.
• During breastfeeding, ensure both mum and baby are comfortable using the “nose to nipple” and “belly to belly” positions, ensuring maximum bonding.
• After feeding, hold baby upright and burp baby to avoid choking or vomiting.
• When placing baby down after feeding, see that baby is on his or her side and not on the tummy.
Dr Shamila D. Singh, specialist paediatrician
Often the safety of an infant depends largely on the environment the child is nurtured in and the mother’s or parents’ experience and knowledge of postnatal care.
Common safety measures include the following:
• All babies, less than three months of age, who present with a fever, should be seen by a paediatrician or family GP.
• Feeding choice is an important factor as babies on formula feeds tend to have a higher risk of overfeeding and reflux. This can cause aspiration of feeds into the lungs.
• Never let a baby less than six months of age sleep on its tummy unsupervised as it contributes to a high risk of Sids (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
• Pharmacists should never be consulted to prescribe or advise on any medication for babies less than six months of age, especially if the baby has not been seen by a medical doctor.
Even homeopathic medication has allergic components in its formulation that can cause an acute allergic reaction, for example, ivy plant extracts in a cough mixture.
• Babies less than six months should not sleep with their parents in the same bed especially if one or both parents smoke. Babies tend to have a higher risk of chest infections and Sids in this situation.
• Vaccinations are important in improving baby’s acquired immunity and protect baby from secondary infection.
Dr Raksha Takoordeen, specialist paediatrician
• When travelling, all children under the age of four years must be restrained in a car seat, from the very first trip from the hospital, no matter how near or far.
Children between four and 14 years old must be restrained with a seat belt on the back seat, under South African legislation.
• It is imperative to follow the vaccination schedule to protect your baby from common, yet potentially debilitating diseases in our everyday environment.
• Maintain strict hygiene when preparing food and milk for your baby. Proper handwashing is the most important and easiest precaution you can take.
• Ensure that your child is always supervised. Cover unused plug points, lock away dangerous substances and apply fridge, freezer, washing machine locks and stove covers.
• Always follow age recommendations on toys, especially those with small parts.
Put all medications up and away and out of sight.