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    Safety & Care

    12 tips for easing your 'parent-noia'

    Written on 7 November 2017

    • Protect him from poisons. To prevent a bug or vermin infestation, focus on eliminating food sources (be sure to sweep up crumbs and store pantry items in sealed containers) and plugging holes with steel wool to stop the little critters from getting in, says Jerome Paulson, M.D., co-director of the Mid-Atlantic Center for Children’s Health and the Environment, in Washington, D.C. If pesticides are unavoidable, stick with natural ones, such as diatomaceous earth for bugs and plain old wooden traps for rodents. Stay away from sprays designed to kill insects or vermin, especially those containing allethrin and carbaryl. These can land on the floor or on toys and wind up in a child’s mouth.
    • Opt for organic produce. The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit consumer watchdog organization in Washington, D.C., encourages splurging for the extra cost when buying the “dirty dozen” of produce — apples, bell peppers, blueberries, celery, cherries, imported grapes, kale, nectarines, peaches, potatoes, spinach and strawberries — which contain the highest level of pesticide residue.
    • 'I’m worried my child will grow up to be overweight.'
      The statistics — childhood obesity has tripled during the past three decades and two thirds of American adults are overweight or obese — say she probably will be unless you take action. Start by serving a healthy breakfast.
    • 'I’m freaked out by all the chemicals my kid is exposed to in his toys, bottles, and food.'
      No matter what lengths you go to, you can’t shelter your child completely from environmental toxins. But taking these three steps will minimize his exposure.

    • Choose safer plastics. Reduce his exposure to hormone-disrupting bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates by avoiding plastic containers with the numbers 3, 6, and 7 on the bottom. Pick glass on stainless steel ones instead. Use only baby bottles labeled “BPA-free.” And don’t let your child play with toys that contain polyvinyl chloride (PVC).
    • 'I’m scared my daughter might get molested by a stranger.'
      The media tend to play up cases of childhood sexual abuse by an unknown assailant, but they’re rare. About 90 percent of cases involve someone your child knows and trusts, says Whitney Gabriel, a spokesperson for the Child Molestation Research and Prevention Institute, in Atlanta. Teach your child never to go anywhere with someone she doesn’t know (even if that person claims you said it was okay).
    • 'I’m worried my baby son will develop autism.'
      It’s true that the incidence of autism spectrum disorders has risen to about 1 in 70 boys (who are four times more likely to be diagnosed than girls are). But it’s mainly the result of heightened awareness of the syndrome among doctors and broadened diagnostic criteria, according to Ari Brown, M.D., a Parentsadvisor and member of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Parents Advisory Board. Chances are your child will be fine. Still, experts agree the risk is somewhat greater if you or your spouse has a family history of autism or if your baby was a preemie.
    • 'I’m afraid we’ll never have enough money for college.'
      You run a race one step at a time, and the same is true of building a college fund, says Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of, which provides financial-aid information to families.
    • 'I’m afraid my baby will stop breathing while he’s sleeping.'
      Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), which is linked to about 2,250 deaths in the U.S. every year, is a legitimate worry for new parents. But you can easily cut your baby’s risk in half by following these simple rules: Put him to sleep on his back; get rid of blankets, pillows, bumpers, and sleep positioners; and don’t co sleep with him. Bedsharing has been linked to a heightened risk of accidental suffocation and strangulation.
    • 'I’m scared my ex-husband will kidnap my child.'
      More than 200,000 kids in the U.S. are abducted by a family member each year. You can reduce the risk by putting safety above your hard feelings. “Most family abductions are done out of spite,” says Nancy A. McBride, national safety director for the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children. “It can be a huge challenge for a parent to stay calm in the middle of a bitter custody battle, but simply being fair about visitation rights and child support can head off a lot of problems.”

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