June 4, 2009
Keeping baby happy and safe
Getting ready for baby's arrival? Experts give some tips - from colours in the nursery to baby cots. JUNE CHEONG reports
Here is a myth-buster: Babies do not go ga-ga over pastel colours. It is the parents who do.
Dr Ong Eng Keow, a paediatrician at the Singapore Baby & Child Clinic at Thomson Medical Centre, said: 'Children like contrasting colours. Shades of a single colour, such as pastels, do not attract infants as much as strong contrasts like black and white or primary colours.'
Research has shown that strong contrasting colours captivate a baby's attention.
Dr Ong added: 'It is also not true that baby girls like pink and baby boys like blue. The decor in a baby's room is more for the parents.'
However well their room has been decorated, tiny tots actually like simpler things, like a brightly painted wall or a musical mobile.
Above all, the key factors in decorating a baby's nursery are safety and practicality, said Dr Irene Chan, a consultant paediatrician at iKids Paediatric Practice in Paragon.
Babies should sleep in cots until they are two years old or when the cot railing comes up to their chest level when they are standing.
Babies are often able to turn themselves over when they reach four months old, so it is important that their cot is deep enough to prevent them from getting out.
Dr Ong said gaps between the bars or slats of the cot should be less than 50mm. Also, paint used for the cot has to be lead-free. Play it safe with second-hand cots - strip off the paint and redo with lead-free paint.
The cot mattress should fit snugly into the cot. Latches and locks should also be child-proof.
Dr Chan said: 'Ensure that the cot has a dropside that can easily be slid up or down with one hand.
'It is better to get a cot where the mattress level can be adjusted higher or lower. This makes it easier to lift your baby without straining your back.'
As for the sweet spot for a cot, Dr Chan advised a place away from windows, curtains with long cords, blinds and lamps.
She also suggested creating a dedicated changing area or table with ample storage space for clothes and diapers nearby.
When baby gets more active, usually between 12 and 18 months old, consider putting him in a playpen, on a mattress bed with adjustable rails, or a mattress on the floor.
Dr Ong said: 'It's a good idea to let the child sleep on a mattress on the floor by then, so even if he rolls off it, he will not have serious injuries.
'Cots can still be used provided its base can be lowered to such a level that the child will not be able to climb out.'
What about toys in a cot?
Dr Chan said: 'Toys help stimulate a baby's senses and brighten up the cot.
'For small babies, you can use mobiles but remove them when the baby starts to stand and grab. Cot toys that play soothing songs like lullabies can help a baby to fall asleep.'
She added: 'As your baby grows, he will reach out and try to touch things around him.
'Have toys with different textures and colours to help stimulate his sense of touch and sight.'
Dr Ong said parents should make sure cot toys are appropriate for the child's age. He said: 'Parents can leave soft toys in the cot provided they are cleaned regularly and discarded if torn or dirty.
'All soft toys should be taken out of the cot once the child can pull himself up to a standing position so that he does not use them as a step to climb over the cot.
'Feel the toys for sharp edges and make sure they do not have strings, cords, loose pieces or beads.'