When our first daughter was born, we might have become a little paranoid about certain things. She was premature, and I’m sure some people in the family thought we were nuts for keeping her at home, away from other people, for the first couple of months. I don’t regret it at all, though: it was a crazy time made hazy by post-labor drugs and sleepless nights, and we needed our space. Also, our daughter didn’t catch so much as a sniffle during that time, because we kept her away from germs.
We also thought quite a bit about safety and security during that time. When you bring your baby home from the hospital, nothing seems so precious in the world. It’s like having a trunk full of cash or a huge, loose diamond in your pocket. You worry that someone might come and try to take it. Sadly, that’s the kind of world that we live in.
If you want to get an idea of how seriously the medical community takes baby security, visit a hospital NICU sometime. They really run a tight ship, which is just one of many things that we love about the NICU. In this article, I thought I’d cover some of the areas of “baby security” and what we’ve done to keep everyone safe & sound.
Baby Security at Home
Your home is where your baby will be most of the time, especially in the first few years. We are blessed to live in a safe neighborhood in the suburbs, but no place in this world is completely safe, is it? We never really owned anything very valuable, but bringing our daughter home changed things. We quickly changed our house into a miniature fortress:
Exterior doors. Every door has a dead bolt (the best kind of lock) and a chain lock. The latter is useful in keeping older siblings from opening the door, and also prevents someone from forcing their way in if they come to the door.
- Door/window alarms. We bought door and window alarms too, the kind that sound off (very loudly) if the door or window is opened. They have a simple on/off switch, so you do have to remember to turn them off, but they’ll warn us of (and probably deter) an intruder.
- No solicitors. We have a “No Solicitors” sticker on the front door, because who needs strangers coming to the house at all times of the day? It doesn’t always work, but where it fails, the “Beware of Dog” sticker probably helps.
Taking Baby Out In Public
Taking your baby out in public for the first time can be a daunting experience. For one thing, it’s just harder to go anywhere with an infant in tow. And then there are strangers to think about. When you have a cute little baby, you’re going to be the center of attention almost anywhere you go. And here’s something they don’t always warn you about: complete strangers will try to touch your baby.
It is clearly an instinctive part of human nature, people see those cute little fingers and toes and just want to tickle them! Most of the time, they won’t ask for permission. The compulsion is too strong. What bothers me is when strangers touch my baby’s hands or face, because we’re out in public and I doubt that they just washed their hands. Two minutes later, my baby’s hands are going to be in his mouth.
To minimize the risk of such contact with strangers, I usually take the following steps:
- Block access to the baby using the sun shade of the car seat or stroller. Also serves as a makeshift sneeze guard and smokescreen to keep out germs and secondhand smoke.
- Carry hand sanitizer and/or wet wipes where you can reach them, for cleanup after your baby touches someone or something that might not be clean.
- Keep your baby close to you in the cart, and use your body to protect access if need be.
Whenever someone would reach for my baby, I’d casually block them or hold up a hand and say “Ooh, he’s just getting over a cold.” This seems more polite than “No touch!” It’s like hey, I’m doing you a favor here, not simply telling you to keep your unwashed mitts off my newborn!
It goes without saying that you should never leave your baby unattended, even for a few seconds, when out in public or when she’s in her car seat in the car. Bad things can happen, so use common sense.
Social Media and Online Baby Security
The internet is a wonderful thing for new parents. It’s the source of endless information (like this blog) and channels for sharing your experiences. So many social media feeds to inundate with baby pictures, so little time! Just remember that information flows two ways: other people (total strangers) can learn about you. When you broadcast baby pictures all over the web, you’re letting the world know that you have a cute little baby in your house.
With a little bit of digging, someone can easily figure out who you are and where you live. They can follow your social media feeds in real time, and know everything you say. Here are some tips for family and baby security in the online world:
- Lock down your social media privacy settings as much as possible. Twitter feeds are public access and indexed by search engines, so use with caution. Wherever you can, ensure that only your approved friends see your content. And never, ever trust Facebook to protect your privacy.
- Don’t post anything that invites trouble. t always amazes me when friends and relatives brag about being at the beach or on a cruise, while they’re still out of town. No one needs this information. Avoid posting things like “We’re on vacation!” and “My husband is out of town” and “The baby is home alone with just a babysitter.” Even on Facebook, you don’t know what friend-of-a-friend might see this information. Criminals use social media, too.
- Be careful with photos. People sometimes don’t realize the resolution of pictures (even ones snapped with a phone) provided by current technology. Are expensive electronics or possessions in view? Can someone zoom in to read your address from a piece of junk mail on the floor? You can’t be too careful. Also, never post full-size, high-resolution photos online or elsewhere. I just read about a blogger whose family photo was used for a massive window display ad in Central Europe. Without permission.
- Avoid posting or using real names, ages, and other details about your family members, especially babies and small children. That only invites identity theft or worse.
Is Baby Security Necessary?
It is very possible that I’m going way overboard here. Most of the time, you can leave your doors unlocked, talk to strangers, broadcast your whereabouts on Twitter, and get along just fine. Personally, I think all of these measures are worth taking, not just for the improved security but your own perception of personal safety.
Won’t you sleep better at night knowing that your doors are deadbolted, chain-locked, and alarmed? I know that I do.