It’s every parent’s nightmare–you’re with your child one minute and the next you can’t see her anywhere. Your heart starts to pump and your body rushes with adrenaline as you panic.

According to the Department of Justice, more than 2,000 kids get separated from their caregiver for at least an hour each day in the US. Yet only 1 in 10 parents say they affix some type of emergency or safety ID on their children when they’re out in public. While most parents and children are reunited unharmed, there are steps you can take to make sure you stay safely together, and can be reunited if separated.

High security

Hospitals and birthing centers should be one of the safest places for you and your baby, and they largely are thanks to rigorous security in most facilities. Infant abductions are rare but they do occur.

From ankle bracelets to locked passages, staff identification badges and individual entrance codes, most birthing facilities go to great lengths to protect mothers and their babies.
To further protect your baby post-birth, keep your baby with you in your room at all times. Ask family members to take turns staying with you and your newborn so you can sleep and provide care for yourself while another trusted person sits with your baby.

If your baby needs to leave you for a procedure, for example, have your partner or a family member accompany the baby and remain with her until returning to you.

Safety as baby grows

As baby becomes a toddler and begins to explore her world, there’s the fear of a parking lot abduction, getting separated in the crush of a mall or amusement park crowd or simply losing sight of her when you’re distracted. Keep track of your budding runner with these simple steps.

    • Skip the baby bag and carry everything you need in a backpack; this gives you 2 free hands for junior.
    • Affix some type of identification to your child and her gear each time you go out, from bag tags on your stroller and car seats to name and emergency contact stickers placed inside clothing.
    • Write your name and address on a paper and slip into in a pocket in her clothing; better yet, buy identification bracelets that conceal your child’s name, address and your phone number inside a cute wristband.
    • Look for the new safety temporary tattoos that feature an emergency number to call and a QR code that is embedded with your name, information and any health concerns like allergies.
    • Teach your child to show her ID band to another mommy with a baby or child and ask her for help; women are far less likely to be predators and more likely to offer help.
    • Point out police officers and guards to your toddler and younger children, identifying them as safe people to approach if they get lost.

  • Use a toddler harness: While you’ll get a few stares, you can easily and safely keep your child close.

Mobile kids

As your children grow, consider going electronic to keep tabs on their whereabouts, as well as find them when they’re lost.

  • Use walkie-talkie type radios that can typically transmit more than 8 miles; have a decided upon channel and don’t give out personal information over the airwaves.
  • If your child has a cell phone and is old enough to be on her own, have her regularly call or text and have her take and send photos that identify where she is.
  • Get a GPS tracking system. These usually come in the form of a watch or toy; look for the types that notify you if your child has gone outside her defined boundaries.

Carolyn Davis Cockey, MLS, LCCE, is founding editor of Healthy Mom&Baby, Senior Director of Partnerships & Publications at AWHONN, and a Lamaze-certified childbirth educator in Sarasota, FL.

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