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Your baby's environment

  • Keep your baby away from harmful products and chemicals.
  • Don’t smoke and keep your baby away from secondhand smoke.
  • Make sure your home is free from things like lead and mold.
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Carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide (also called CO) is a poisonous gas that has no taste, color or odor. Cars, trucks, stoves, gas ranges and heating systems make fumes that contain carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide from these fumes can build up in places that don’t have a good flow of fresh air. If you breathe in too much carbon monoxide, your blood has trouble carrying oxygen. This is called carbon monoxide poisoning.

How can carbon monoxide poisoning affect your baby’s health?

Carbon monoxide poisoning can cause health problems and even death. Anyone can have carbon monoxide poisoning, but it’s more dangerous for babies than for adults because they breathe in more carbon monoxide per pound of body weight.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can cause:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Trouble breathing
  • Fatigue (feeling very tired)
  • Confusion
  • Fainting
  • Lung damage
  • Brain damage

If you think your baby has carbon monoxide poisoning, leave the house immediately, call 911 and get medical care as soon as possible.

How can you keep your baby safe from carbon monoxide poisoning?

Here’s how you can keep your baby safe:

  • Install carbon monoxide detectors in your home, especially near the bedrooms. You can buy carbon monoxide detectors at hardware and home-supply stores. Check the batteries often to be sure the detectors work. If the detector alarm goes off, leave your house immediately and call 911.
  • Have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil or coal-burning appliances checked by a qualified technician every year. These include furnaces, woodstoves and fireplaces. 
  • Don’t heat your house with a gas stove or oven. 
  • Don’t use a charcoal grill, generator, camping stove or other gasoline or coal-burning device in your home or in any other enclosed space. 
  • Don’t leave your car or truck running in an attached garage, even if the door is open. 
  • Don’t burn anything in a stove or fireplace that isn’t vented.

Last reviewed December 2013


Hazards around the home

  • Secondhand smoke
  • Spots of mold growth
  • Pesticides on vegetables and fruits or outdoors
  • Carbon monoxide from stoves and appliances
  • Lead from old pipes, old paint and certain toys

Frequently Asked Questions

Are plastic baby bottles that use BPA & phthalates safe?

Scientists are debating whether BPA (bisphenol A) and phthalates pose a risk to children's health. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has expressed concerns about chemicals used in plastics. BPA is used to make plastics clear, strong and hard to break. Some baby bottles, dishes and toys contain this chemical. Some research has found that bisphenol A can affect the brain, behavior and prostate gland in infants and children.

If you're concerned, buy BPA-free plastic baby products. You can also use baby bottles made of glass, polypropylene or polyethylene. If you use plastics, avoid plastics numbered 3 or 7 (look for the number in a triangle typically found on the bottom of containers). Use plastics numbered 1, 2 and 4. If plastic baby bottles and infant cups contain BPA, discard them if they have scratches. Don't put boiling or very hot liquids, such as formula, into plastic bottles or containers that contain BPA.

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