No matter how cute and cuddly they are, get those toys off your baby’s sleeping area. Read about toy safety tips for babies and toddlers here.
What can you read in this article?
- The tragic story of how a baby died due to suffocation by a toy
- When can my child sleep with a stuffed animal or toy?
- Toy safety tips for babies and toddlers
When I had a baby shower for my firstborn, I received at least 3 teddy bears and 2 other plush toys. However, my daughter was only able to play with them when she was already three years old.
Because while these soft toys would make a cute addition to my baby’s crib and sleep area, I was afraid that my baby wouldn’t be able to breathe if she rolled over and the teddy bears would fall on her face.
Apparently, I’m not the only one thinking this. In fact. it’s quite valid and is considered a serious issue when it comes to your child’s safety, especially when sleeping.
Baby dies due to suffocation by a teddy bear
In 2018, a mom tragically lost her little girl due to suffocation by a teddy bear. The mom, Dexy Leigh Walsh urges parents to avoid putting large toys or pillows in their baby’s bed.
Here’s what she has to say.
In her emotional post on Facebook, Walsh shared that on the sixth of March, she discovered her 18-month-old daughter Connie had died because of suffocation on a soft toy. Dexy had placed that soft toy in Connie’s bed to prevent her from falling off.
Dexy discovered Connie in a lifeless condition and attempted CPR to revive her daughter. But unfortunately Connie had already passed away.
The heartbroken mom recounts how a seemingly harmless move took her daughter’s life.
“I had packed down the side of her bed with teddies and placed a big one on top of the smaller teddies to stop Connie from falling down the side of her bed. She did exactly that. But as it was all teddy bears, she went under the massive teddy and fell asleep with the angels.
All I think about now is what if I just left it empty she would still be here maybe with just a small bump on her head. It’s all ‘what ifs’ now,” she wrote.
The tragedy could’ve been avoided, and Dexy shared her painful experience on social media to remind parents of this.
I want every parent to see and be aware of this – let them fall. Don’t try to stuff small places up with soft things. Just leave it empty.
Please move everything off your kids’ bed and away from the sides. They don’t need anything on their bed but a cover.
Please think about what’s on your kids’ bed and around it. You really never know what can happen.”
In honor of their beloved baby girl, the family has created a Facebook page called Connie Rose Awareness and it is dedicated to creating awareness about toy safety tips for babies and toddlers when sleeping.
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Safe sleeping guidelines for babies and toddlers
According to an article in Healthy Children.org, 3,400 babies in the United States die in their sleep every year due to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) or accidental deaths from suffocation or strangulation.
In their effort to reduce infant sleep-related death, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updated their policies and guidelines on safe sleeping for newborns and babies. Here’s a quick guide of what’s in it:
- Children ages 1 and below should sleep on their backs at all times.
- Use a firm surface or mattress in the baby’s sleep area.
- While room-sharing (baby sleeps in the same room as you) is advisable, bed-sharing is not recommended as it increases the risks of suffocation and strangulation. You can only bring the baby to bed with you when you are breastfeeding or playing with him. As soon as he falls asleep, you need to put him back in his crib where it is safe.
- Don’t put an infant to sleep on an adult bed, couch, or another soft surface.
- Make sure his crib and sleeping area is free of any clutter, loose beddings or objects (including soft toys) that could strangle or block the baby’s airways when he sleeps.
Using crib bumpers is also not and never put an infant down on a mattress covered with plastic.
The Australian organization Red Nose is dedicated to the cause of SIDS and supports bereaved families. One thing they always remind parents is to refrain from moving the little ones from cot to bed before they are ready.
How do you know it’s time to move them out of the cot?
“For safety reasons, when a young child is observed attempting to climb out of a cot and looking like they might succeed, it is time to move them out of the cot.”
They added that most kids achieve this between the age of two to three-and-a-half years. But it can also happen earlier, around the age of 18 months.
If you are using adult height beds for your little ones, here’s what you should keep in mind.
- Your little ones can be trapped in bed rails if not properly fitted. So, be mindful of this when attaching portable bed rails to adult height beds.
- Ensure that there’s no gap between the mattress and bed rails to avoid your little one’s head slip through the gap and get trapped.
- Avoid placing pillows, soft bedding, and toys against the bed rail. Asphyxia due to an environment cluttered with toys has happened in the past.
When can my child sleep with her toy?
The image of our little one hugging her favorite plush or stuffed toy is a sight to behold. But while playing with it when she is awake (and supervised) is fine, experts say that you need to wait until baby is a year old before she can put her toy beside her to sleep.
According to AAP, soft toys and beddings like blankets, quilts, crib bumpers, and pillows can increase the risk of SIDS and death by suffocation or strangulation.
Although it may seem unlikely, there is a possibility that a doll or stuffed toy could fall on your baby’s face, block his airways and suffocate him. And as we learned about the tragic story of Baby Connie, these things can happen.
Like Mom Drexy’s advice, the safest option is to keep your baby’s crib free of clutter, including stuffed toys and baby blankets.
When your baby turns one, his risk of dying from SIDS goes down significantly. The likelihood of suffocation also decreases because most 12-month-olds are already able to roll over, sit up, and move objects away from their face.
Toy safety tips for babies and toddlers
Aside from providing entertainment, toy can also help our children in their growth and development. From picking up their favorite stuffed toys, babies can learn how to use their hands and sharpen their motor skills and hand and eye coordination. Toddlers can practice their social and communication skills during pretend play with the help of a toy.
A lot of toys are made with safety in mind, but no toy is totally safe. Sometimes it also depends on whether the certain object is appropriate for the child’s age, and how you store them is important too. Especially when you have young children in the house who still loves picking up stuff off the flood and are still learning to crawl and walk.
As a primary rule, we’ve learned today that putting toys in your baby’s crib is not advisable as it increases the risks of suffocation and strangulation.
Parents, take note of these toy safety tips for babies and toddlers:
- Choose age-appropriate toys for your child. If it’s not recommended for children under a certain age, don’t buy it for baby.
- For toddlers, avoid toys with sharp points and edges.
- Toys intended for older kids should not be within reach of babies and toddlers.
- Kids love to yank and pull apart toys (or anything, really), so choose sturdy toys without any loose, moving parts that can easily come off.
- To avoid the risk of choking in kids ages 3 and below, make sure that toys and parts cannot fit inside an empty toilet paper tube or a choke tube. Soft baby toys should be large enough that they’re impossible to swallow even when they are squished down. Also check stuffed animals for eyes, noses, buttons and other parts that can come off. Put small toys and toys with small parts out of reach when the little ones are around.
- Toys with loose string, ribbons, or cords can get tangled around your baby’s neck, so best to stay away from them for now.
Finally, always supervise your babies and toddlers when they are playing with toys or other times. When your child is done playing, stow these away in a safe place away from baby.
Additional information by Camille Eusebio
Connie Rose Awareness Facebook Page, Red Nose, Seattle Children’s Hospital
Republished with permission from theAsianParent Singapore