Three moms from three generations of the same Ontario family agreed to share their experiences with baby safety. Prevailing wisdom about the best ways to protect your baby while they sleep, in the car and when they’re outdoors has certainly changed over time. However, these moms all have one thing in common: just like you, they want the best for their children. Times change but these moms’ experiences prove that if you’re doing your best, you’re doing alright!
There’s so much to keep in mind when you’re protecting your baby. This child safety checklist from BabyCenter is a wonderful resource for helping to ensure you’re keeping baby as safe as possible. Walmart is grateful to these women for opening up to us about parenting. They share how the latest safety rules of their day drastically altered their way of protecting baby from how their mothers did it before them.
Elfrida Dunn, 90, the matriarch of this wonderful family. Her five offspring are now in their 60s.
Rena Hockley is one of Elfrida’s daughters. She has three children in their 30s.
Leah Hewlitt is Rena’s daughter. She has a daughter, 6, and a son, 3.
Keeping baby safe in a crib
Expert advice about putting baby to bed, from nursery essentials to baby’s sleep position, changes over the years. As BabyCenter reports in an article reviewed by their Medical Advisory Board, research now shows sleeping on their back is best for baby.
Elfrida: “All our kids slept on their tummies. They were quite happy, with blankets on. And we didn’t have crib bumpers. My youngest’s body went through the bars, and her head got stuck. When I went up to get her, she was hanging there. After that, came bumpers.”
By the time Elfrida’s daughter Rena became a mom, sleeping wisdom had changed.
Rena: “My kids slept on their side. We moved them from side to side, and a lot of times, I elevated the crib mattress so the head was higher. I didn’t allow any toys in the crib. We didn’t even have a pillow in there. I propped them up against a rolled-up blanket.”
And when Leah, Rena’s daughter, put her children to bed, they had rolled over from Grandma’s day!
Leah: “They slept on their backs. My babies slept beside my bed in a bassinet, swaddled for the first six weeks, and then they went to the crib where we didn’t have bumpers until they could roll over on their own. They were swaddled with no pillows or blankets in there.”
This adorable jungle-themed crib bumper set by Baby’s First by Nemcor includes four separate bumper sections. You can choose where to place bumpers when baby is old enough to need them. They are designed to attach to any standard crib size easily. All pieces are machine washable.
Transporting baby also changed radically over the years, and so have baby car seats. Seatbelts have only been around since the late 1950s. Ontario was the first province to make seatbelt use mandatory in 1976. Those seatbelts were lap belts only. Shoulder harnesses came later. For more information on child car seat safety, please see guidelines posted on the Government of Canada’s Road Transportation site.
Elfrida: “Right out of the hospital that baby was with me, always in the front seat, on my lap. And we didn’t have seatbelts.”
For Rena, driving a baby in the ’80s involved a baby car seat that wasn’t as complex or regulated as it is today.
Rena: “It was more like a bucket. It was awesome. I could just hold it on my hip as we walked around because it was lightweight. And then you buckled it in the car with just the lap belt. There was no shoulder belt. And it didn’t expire; you just used it ’til it fell apart. [The children] were facing forward so I could reach over from the front seat and give them a soother.”
Shoulder belts and stricter baby car seat regulations and laws are now involved for Leah.
Leah: “We buckle them in and make sure the strap is right at their breast, and everything is tight. I remember telling my dad that the baby couldn’t be in the baby car seat with their winter outwear on and he didn’t believe me! Later he talked to a nurse and said, ‘Leah, you were right!’ We kept them rear-facing as long as we could … until they start complaining, really. My daughter moved to a booster, but my son isn’t complaining yet; he’s 3 ½.”
Choose a seat that grows with your baby. This Cosco rear-facing model helps keep baby snug until she’s big enough for a booster. Then turn it around, and baby can continue to use her familiar seat until she reaches 50 pounds. This model can travel on airplanes, too. It features machine-washable, dryer-safe fabric.
Water safety and sun protection
Water safety has always been top of mind for pool-loving parents. However, as you’ll see, sun safety is a newer phenomenon. The Canadian Dermatology Association notes that babies are not born with a developed skin protection system. Even babies with darker pigmented skin need maximum sun care protection.
Elfrida: “My kids were always in the sun. We didn’t know sun was bad for their skin. My babies were always sleeping outside—in the carriage, by themselves, on the front porch and in the back yard. It never crossed my mind that somebody would take my babies away. And they were in my arms when we went into the pool. When they got a little older, they had arm floats or, as we called them, water wings.”
A few decades later, people paid more attention to the sun’s effects, but effective protection was still to come.
Rena: “I always dressed the little ones in hats and long-sleeved cotton shirts in the sun. We camped a lot, so we were around water a lot. We were always with them in the water; it was all eyes on them. They took swimming lessons when they were little; and when they were older, they wore life jackets, and they were always aware of the water.”
Now, Leah’s young children wear sunscreen every time they go outside.
Leah: My kids took swimming lessons young, the mom and tot lessons. Anytime they are in the pool, they have puddle jumpers on. We’re always with them around water. They know if they want to go on the dock, they have to wear a puddle jumper. They don’t fight it, they just know. We’re always covered in sunscreen—we do the face for the walk to school, and I try to use an all-natural sunscreen.”
This Stearns sea horse puddle jumper is designed to help give kids freedom of movement while keeping them afloat. It’s also designed so it won’t ride up when they’re having fun in the water. This floatation device is also available in crab, starfish and other fun motifs. For children 30 to 50 pounds.
If you’re inspired by our mom-to-mom-to-mom stories, why not share your own with your family by writing them in a notebook? Ask your mom to do the same. We can all learn from each others’ experiences and, through sharing, discover that motherhood has never been easy, but it’s always been worth it.