The guidelines listed below provide good, sound parenting techniques that can also help prevent abduction of infants while in the hospital where your child is born and once you take the child home.
At the Hospital
- At some point before the birth of your baby, investigate security procedures at the facility where you plan to give birth to your baby and request a copy of the facility's written guidelines on procedures for "special care" and security procedures in the maternity ward. Know all of the facility's procedures that are in place to safeguard your infant while staying in that facility.
- While it is normal for new parents to be anxious, being deliberately watchful over the newborn infant is of paramount importance.
- Never leave your infant out of your direct line-of-sight even when you go to the bathroom or take a nap. If you leave the room or plan to go to sleep, alert the nurses to take the infant back to the nursery or have a family member watch the baby. When possible, keep the infant's bassinet on the side of your bed that is away from the door(s) leading out of the room.
- After admission to the facility, ask about hospital protocols concerning the routine nursery procedures, feeding and visitation hours, and security measures.
- Do not give your infant to anyone without properly verified hospital identification. Find out what additional or special identification is being worn to further identify those hospital personnel who have authority to handle the infant.
- Become familiar with the hospital staff who work in the maternity unit. During short stays in the hospital, ask to be introduced to the nurse assigned to you and your infant.
- Question unfamiliar persons entering your room or inquiring about your infant even if they are in hospital attire or seem to have a reason for being there. Alert the nurses' station immediately.
- Determine where your infant will be when taken for tests, and how long the tests will take. Find out who has authorized the tests. If you are uncomfortable with anyone who requests to take your baby or unable to clarify what testing is being done or why your baby is being taken from your room, it is appropriate to go with your baby to observe the procedure.
- For your records to take home, have at least one color photograph of your infant (full, front-face view) taken and compile a complete written description of your infant including hair and eye color, length, weight, date of birth, and specific physical attributes.
At The Hospital or At Home
- At some point after the birth of your baby, but before discharge form the facility, request a set of written guidelines on the procedures for any follow-up care extended by the facility that will be scheduled to take place in your home. Do not allow anyone into your home who say that he or she is affiliated with the facility without properly verified hospital identification. Find out what additional or special identification is being worn to further identify those staff members who have authority to enter your home.
- Consider the risk you may be taking when permitting your infant's birth announcement to be published in the newspaper or online. Birth announcements should never include the family's home address and should be limited to the parents' surname(s).
- The use of outdoor decorations to announce the infant's arrival such as Mylar® balloons, large floral wreaths, wooden storks, and other lawn ornaments are not recommended.
- Only allow persons in to your home who are well-known by the mother. It is ill advised to allow anyone into your home who is just a mere acquaintance, especially if met briefly since you became pregnant or gave birth to your baby. There have been several cases where an abductor has made initial contact with a mother and baby in the hospital setting and then subsequently abducted the infant at the family home. If anyone should arrive at the home claiming to be affiliated with the health care facility where the infant was born, remember to follow the procedures outlined in number 10 above. In addition there have been cases in which initial contact with a mother and baby was made in other settings such as shopping malls. A high degree of diligence should be exercised by family members when home with the baby.