Smart habits to prevent changing-table falls

Consumer Reports News: November 10, 2009 05:08 AM

If you have the space, a well-stocked changing station will help make diaper duty go more smoothly by giving you a place to keep diapers and other essentials close at hand. But because your baby is off the floor, it has its hazards.

Each year an estimated 3,000 babies, on average, are injured in changing table accidents. Some injuries are fatal. In no more time than it takes to turn for a diaper or wipe, an active baby can roll over and tumble to the ground. For a child, a fall from a changing table is like an adult plunging from several stories and could be fatal.

While changing tables with barriers on the two opposing long sides of the top comply with the ASTM International standard if they have a contoured changing pad, we recommend using a table with barriers on all four sides. Whether you use a table with barriers on two, three, or four sides, or you use a contoured pad on top of a dresser, prevent accidents by always using the safety straps on your changing table or pad. Never leave your baby unattended—even for a moment, even if you’re using the safety straps, and even if you’re sure your baby is secure. (See more changing table features.)

In fact, make it a practice to keep one hand on your baby. When you are shopping for a changing table, make sure that the drawers and shelves are easily accessible so you won’t have to let go of your baby to reach something.

Before changing your baby’s diaper, be sure that any products you need—diapers, wipes, or the wipe warmer—are within arm’s reach but not within your baby’s range, and place the diaper pail adjacent to the table. If you run out of diapers or forget your little one’s outfit, carry her with you while you get what you need. If you wheel your changing table from room to room, be sure to lock the wheels on a stable, flat surface. Park your changing table away from small objects your baby can grasp and hot objects, such as a radiator. Never wheel the table with your baby on it, strapped on or not.

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