Topic Overview

Protecting babies

Each new learning stage for your baby requires increased attention on
your part to prevent an injury. It may surprise you how fast your baby can move
from one stage to the next. Being aware of your baby’s abilities and what
skills he or she is likely to develop next will help you prevent
injuries.

Be aware of your baby’s risk of injury from falling:

  • Never leave your baby unattended in high places,
    such as on a tabletop, in a crib with the sides down, or even on a bed or
    sofa.
  • Don’t leave your baby unattended in any infant seat or
    “sitting” toy, such as a swing or jumper. Use all the safety straps
    provided.
  • Remember that a baby with a pacifier or other object in his or her mouth is at risk for face and mouth injuries in addition to other injuries from a fall.

Take steps to prevent falls:

  • Use sliding gates at both ends of
    stairways. Avoid accordion-style gates, because a child’s head could get caught
    in the gate. Look for a gate with openings no bigger than
    2.3 in. (5.8 cm).
  • Don’t use baby walkers. Walker injuries can include
    pinches and falls. Walkers can cause severe accidents, such as a fall down a
    flight of stairs.
  • Keep your baby away from elevated porches, decks,
    and landings.
  • Never leave your baby alone in or around a bathtub.
  • Make your home safe from falls by removing hazards that might
    cause a fall.

Protecting toddlers and young children

Toddlers and young children like to explore, climb, walk, run, and
dance. These activities put them at risk for falls and injuries. You can help
prevent accidents in the following ways:

  • As soon as your baby can walk, lock doors to all dangerous
    areas. Keep keys out
    of your child’s sight and reach.
  • Be careful when using equipment such as
    high chairs and
    changing tables. Always use the safety straps, and
    keep a close eye on your child.
  • Use sliding gates at both ends of
    stairways. Avoid accordion-style gates, because a child’s head could get caught
    in the gate. Look for a gate with openings no bigger than
    2.3 in. (5.8 cm).
  • Keep stairways clean and safe. Carpeting on stairs
    should be in good repair. Uncarpeted stairs should be kept clean but not slick.
    Train your child to hold on to the rail and to walk carefully down each step one
    at a time. If you have pets, teach your child to keep away from them while on
    stairs.
  • Attach double-sided tape, foam backing, or a rubber pad to
    throw rugs to secure them on flooring.
  • Watch your toddler when he
    or she is outside. Uneven grass, sloping lawns, and hills can make walking
    difficult.
  • Have your child stay seated when he or she is eating or drinking. And don’t allow your child to walk or run with any objects in his or her mouth. Your unsteady toddler could get face and mouth injuries in addition to other injuries from a fall.
  • Install window guards. Also, don’t place furniture,
    including chairs, close to windows. Make sure windows are closed and locked
    securely when children are present.
  • Don’t allow your child to
    climb on high furniture.

Keep thinking ahead for new falling hazards that your child may
encounter, such as:

  • Playground equipment, especially slides and
    monkey bars. Avoid taking your child to playgrounds that don’t have a soft
    surface beneath the equipment.
  • Trampolines. Even with constant adult supervision and protective netting, many
    children are injured on them. It’s best to keep your child off trampolines.
  • Tricycles. Only allow your child to
    ride solid, stable tricycles that are low to the ground. Make sure your child wears a helmet. Also, watch
    where your child rides. Steep downhill slopes can make your child lose control
    and fall.
  • Falling off the bed. Install bed rail guards to help
    prevent falls. Many are now available that are easy to attach and remove. Make
    sure openings in rails are small enough to prevent a child from getting
    trapped, which can lead to choking or suffocating.

References

Other Works Consulted

  • Committee on Injury and Poison Prevention, American Academy of Pediatrics (2001, reaffirmed 2004). Falls from heights: Windows, roofs, and balconies. Pediatrics, 107(5): 1188-1191.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD – Pediatrics
Kathleen Romito, MD – Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD – Family Medicine

Current as ofMay 4, 2017