"Many people believe that because they're at home, that means they're safe. But the same rules that apply in public settings also apply at home," says Joyce Jackson, child safety expert and author of How To Protect Your Child From Sexual Predators.
Here are her top 5 tips:
• Don't advertise the fact you have a baby. "For starters, avoid hanging banners and balloons in your front yard welcoming a new baby," she says. "Predators have been known to scour neighborhoods for these signs. Running birth announcements in the newspaper also carries the same risk."
• Don't blog about your baby online. "Many people also create Web sites or photo-sharing sites so friends and family can stay updated on their news, but perusing these sites are the most common way criminals discover you have a new baby," Jackson says. "If you can't resist, make sure you don't publish any revealing information like your address or full name--don't even publish your baby's last name."
• Lock up tight. Make sure all windows in your house have locks or latches on them, and don't let strangers inside the house or close to your baby (that includes the Fed Ex guy or pizza man). And place a baby monitor in every room of the house.
• Stay in sight. When you're in public, don't take your baby to unfamiliar areas where you could potentially be alone with a stranger (think parking garages or side streets). "And always keep your infant within your personal space," Jackson says. "If you have to use a stroller on the subway or bus, even in line at the grocery store, make sure your baby is turned to face you, and not outward."
• Use a baby sling. "This is a very natural way to keep your infant close to your body," Jackson says. "It also says to would-be criminals, 'You'll have to get through me to get to my baby.' The bottom line is, criminals are going to take a baby that's easy to get to. So by presenting yourself as a confident parent, you'll likely scare off attackers."