You (still) use crib bumpers
Yes, those padded pieces of fabric cushion the slats a little. And they make the crib look cozy and coordinate nicely with the rest of the nursery décor. But seriously, who cares? You have absolutely heard the advice to dump crib bumpers, and here is yet another reason to heed it: 23 babies died because of them over a seven-year span between 2006 and 2012—that’s three times higher than the average number of deaths in the three previous seven-year time spans, according to data reported to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Babies either got their face caught in the bumper and couldn’t breathe or got wedged between the bumper and something else in the crib. The significant uptick may be in part due to more awareness among doctors and reporting by states, but overall the authors believe these numbers are still “substantially” under-counted. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents not to use any bumpers—that includes thick, thin, or the newer, mesh versions. Instead, they and other experts recommend a minimalist approach: just a firm mattress covered in a tight-fitting sheet, without any pillows, blankets, bumpers, toys, stuffed animals, or positioning devices. Your baby should sleep on his back, in footy pajamas if he’s cold.
You ‘say hi’ to the cute doggy
Your kids know strays are off limits, but they can’t resist patting your neighbor’s golden lab or stopping to greet a friendly-looking beagle on a leash. And that’s fine, as long as they always ask the owner’s permission first. Every year, children are by far the most common victims of dog bites, with more than 400,000 injured severely enough to need medical attention, according to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation. What’s even more surprising: More than half of dog-bite injuries occur at home, with dogs that are familiar. Keep a close eye on toddlers when they play with your pooch, and make sure older kids show your four-legged family member the right amount of respect. They should never tease the dog by snatching toys away or pull his ears or tail, and if the dog goes to bed or into his crate, let that be his space to be left alone. These are 50 secrets your pets wish they could tell you.
You watch the rear-view more than the road
You think texting and driving is bad? I mean, it is. Sending or receiving a text takes your eyes off the road for an average of almost five seconds, akin to driving the length of a football field at 55 mph—blind. Kids in the backseat, though, take the whole driving while distracted problem to a whole new level. Australian researchers found the average parent takes their eyes off the road for a staggering three minutes and 22 seconds during a 16-minute trip. It sounds crazy, but think about how many times you watch your little one in the rear-view, try to calm a fussy baby, or break up a sibling fight. Pint-sized passengers are four times more distracting to a driver than adults; and infants are eight times more distracting, according to the AAA. Of course you can’t put your kids on vibrate only, and it’s only natural that you give them a glance in the backseat. The key, however, is to keep it at a glance, whenever possible; pull over in a safe spot if your little one needs to be fed or consoled; and set some car rules—if something falls, it stays on the car floor until you stop.