Five Things That Worry Pediatricians More Than Parents

By Samantha Ahdoot, MD

Most parents know the importance of protecting children with car seats, gates on stairs and locks on cabinets. Some hazards, however, don’t get the attention they deserve. Here are five less appreciated child safety risks that stoke fear in the hearts of pediatricians.

1. Ramen

Ramen is hot. Very hot. It sits in open bowls on countertops. Inquisitive little hands find these bowls and tip them over, resulting in spills of boiling water. Instant soup is one of the leading causes of burns in young children. Parents should be very aware of where they place bowls of hot soup, as well as tea, bottle warmers, crockpots, or anything that contains hot water. Prevent scald injuries by placing these items on the back of the kitchen counter, out of the reach of prying little fingers.

2. Sofas

Parents of newborns are often exhausted. It is all too easy for a new parent to doze off while holding their baby on the sofa, sometimes in the middle of a sleepless night. Parents desperate to do laundry are tempted to place a sleeping baby on the sofa “just for a minute”. Beware of the sofa! It is a bad place for babies! In the blink of an eye a baby can turn and fall off the edge, or get their face covered by cushions. Always place babies in a safe place, such as a bassinet or crib. Never place an infant on a sofa unattended. It only takes a minute to flip off the edge.

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3. The Flu

Pediatricians are always reassuring parents about viruses and colds. Not Influenza. The Flu is not a cold. It is high fever, vomiting, severe cough and misery for days. Every pediatrician has been scared by a very sick child with the Flu. Young children, like grandparents, are at higher risk of complications, such as pneumonia, that can be life threatening. Parents of infants less than six months, please get the Flu shot! There is no other way to protect babies who are too young to be vaccinated. Older children should get the shot themselves. It is always better to prevent the Flu than to try and treat it. The shot protects against severe disease even when it doesn’t prevent infection completely. The Flu shot has been around for decades and is extremely safe. Just do it!

4. Walkers

First time parents hope their child walks early. Second time parents know better! Babies on the go are babies looking for trouble. Walkers take babies places they shouldn’t be, like stairs or kitchens or even fireplaces. Let your baby exercise in a jumper rather than a walker. It is much safer!

5. Grapes

Grapes, with their round shape and smooth covering, are just the right size to get stuck in little windpipes. Always cut grapes for children less than three years old to prevent choking.

Appreciation of these hazards will make your child safer and your pediatrician happier. A winning combination!

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