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January 01, 1988 - Image 58

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-01-01

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Art by J im Paterson


Keeping Baby Safe

Baby-Life teaches people what to do
in an emergency, from CPR to the
Heimlich maneuver for babies.


Special to The Jewish News


eryl Streep did it.
Kurt Vonnegut did
it. So did Lucie
Arnez, Jane Curtin, Candice
Bergen and Peter Jennings.
Each of these celebrities, as
well as some 50,000 other,
less famous New Yorkers, has
attended Baby-Life, a four-
hour course that teaches
parents what to do in
emergencies. Now, Baby-Life
directors Noel Merenstein
and Lois Beekman are bring-
ing the program to Detroit,
where they hope to get an
equally good reception.
Baby-Life, according to Mer-
enstein, is packed with essen-
tial information about
emergency baby care. For ex-
ample, what would you do if
your baby stopped breathing?
Certified instructors teach
parents such techniques as
cardio-pulmonary respiration
(CPR) and rescue breathing.
Parents also learn when —
and how — to call for help
during an emergency.
"Don't call your pediatri-
cian," warns Merenstein, who
worked for four years as an



emergency medical techni-
cian for New York ambulance
services. "Call 911 or a local
emergency medical services
center. Also, don't hang up
until they hang up. Lots of
parents panic when their
baby stops breathing, and
they forget to give their ad-
Speed is essential when a
• baby stops breathing. Four to
six minutes after the baby's
heart stops beating (which
happens soon after breathing
stops), irreversible brain
damage starts to take place.
So the faster you get help, the
better the chances for your
baby's survival, says Meren-
stein, who advises counting
out loud to control panic.
During the class, parents
practice CPR over and over
again on life-sized dolls. The
point of the repetition, says
Merenstein, is to instill auto-
matic reactions within the
parents so that if a real emer-
gency occurs, they will be able
to act without thinking.
Merenstein, a former Marine
who conducts his classes like
drills, calls it "combat-train-
This conditioning definitely
pays off. Merenstein tells the

story of a woman whose baby
suddenly stopped breathing
one night. During the cab
ride to the hospital, the
woman, who had attended
Baby-Life, remembered
Merenstein's instructions and
started to breathe for her
baby. When she reached the
hospital, she pronounced the
dramatic words: "My baby
has stopped breathing!" Only
because of her efforts, the
baby survived.
Or take the case of the boy
who fell from a ladder and
was knocked unconscious. His
mother, also a Baby-Life
graduate, acted "like a robot"
when it happened, checking
the boy's airway, breathing
and circulation, and calling
for help. A medical team ar-
rived within minutes.
Luckily, babies don't stop
breathing very often, so most
parents won't have an oppor-
tunity to use CPR (although
it's definitely good to know).
But babies DO choke fre-
quently, according to Meren-
stein. In fact, statistics say
that one child chokes to death
every five days in the United
States. Despite these appall-
ing figures, many parents
don't know how to treat chok-

ing. They'll turn their babies
upside down, which can put
pressure on the throat and ac-
tually accentuate the chok-
Instead, parents need to
learn how to perform the
Heimlich manuveur for ba-
bies — a technique taught by
Baby-Life. The class also
teaches parents how to pre-
vent their babies from chok-
ing in the first place. Don't
feed your baby hot dogs,
grapes, carrots, celery, bread,
or raisins until the two-year-
old molars come in, says Mer-
enstein. And keep balloons
away from him.
To prevent other accidents
such as poisoning, burning
and electrocution, Beekman
advises parents to take a
fresh look at their homes —
from their baby's point of
view. "Take a safety crawl,"
says Beekman. "Get on your
hands and knees and crawl
around your house." That
way, you can spot danger
points such as the rungs in a
chair (a baby can put his head
between them, panic, yank
back, and strangle to death),
electric sockets (a baby can
stick a fork or his tongue in-
to them, and end up with a

serious mouth deformity — or
worse), and loose rubber
doorstops (they're "the perfect
size for babies to choke on,"
says Beekman)
Keep dangerous substances
in the kitchen towards the top
of the cupboard; safer items,
such as paper towels, go on
the lower shelves. Cover glass
or marble tables with a quilt;
otherwise, your baby can split
his head on them. Don't leave
plastic diapers on the bottom
of the changing table; a baby
can suffocate on them, or
choke on the adhesive tabs.
The best way to prevent any
accident is, of course, through
supervision, says Merenstein.
Even turning your back on
your baby for a moment can
lead to tragedy. Newspapers
periodically report the stories
of mothers who heave their
child in a bathtub for a mo-
ment to get a towel, and the
baby drowns in a few inches
of water. You should keep a
constant close eye on your
baby; to answer the door or go
to the bathroom, make sure
he is safely installed in a
playpen or a crib.
Not just any crib or play-
pen, though. These items
must meet standards pre-

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