Leaving the hospital with a newborn brings with it both incredible joy and crippling fear. Assuming responsibility for your helpless, innocent baby can leave you looking over your shoulder in constant vigil.
Sharing close quarters with my 1-year-old daughter gives me the best vantage point for watching over her, but sometimes I still fear for the worst. Being a single parent means that in the event of a crisis, you must act alone to protect yourself and your child. The same practical precautions are useful to anyone who may spend extended time without another adult as well as parents who just like to be prepared.
As a single mom living in a busy part of town, I have found that a few simple habits make me a little less nervous:
- In the event that you need spring from bed and exit your home as quickly as possible, know exactly what you need to grab and where to find it. Keep your cell phone, keys and a pair of shoes located in places where you would not have to waste time searching for them.
- Ensure that your cell phone has a charge at all times and program any emergency phone numbers into your contact list. The nearest children’s hospital, poison control, and local police are all numbers you would rather not have to Google if you needed them.
- Consider becoming acquainted with a neighbor who you could trust to assist you.
- Keep in mind that babies are not equipped to survive like adults; they actually need tangible items to stay healthy. I recommend stashing an “emergency bag” in your car. Stock it with diapers, wipes, 24 hours-worth of any medications your baby may need, a blanket, a change of clothes and some cash.
- Even if you are breastfeeding, you may consider equipping your emergency bag with a small supply of formula. Pretend that you must leave your baby in someone else’s care while you manage a crisis. What do you want him or her to have in your absence?
- Plan for small surprises. If the power goes out during a storm, you probably won’t want to fumble around for a flashlight with a crying baby on your hip. Missing electricity is another instance when you’ll be glad to have a charged phone. The common principles are preparedness and ease of execution.
No one wants to consider the unthinkable. I don’t know a single (or married) parent who doesn’t wish their child could be magically protected from injury, natural disasters and malicious people. Deciding to bring a baby into the world is a tremendous responsibility. If you can take one extra precaution to keep yours safe, give yourself that added peace of mind.