As a baby begins to grow and move around, they need more attention from parents to prevent a fall and injury. It often surprises parents to see how fast a baby starts moving from one stage to the next. Being aware of the risk of falling will help you keep your baby safe from falling and the resultant injuries. Here are some tips on how can you prevent your baby from falling.
How Can I Prevent My Baby From Falling At Home?
It is indeed a challenge for parents to protect a baby from falling and injuring themselves. As the baby grows and learns to walk, preventing falls should become one of the first priorities. While no precaution can prevent a baby from ever having a fall, but there is still plenty you can do to minimize the risk of falling and injuries.
Taking some basic precautions in the known hot spots will help prevent your baby from falling at home and injuring themselves. Here are some tips that can help prevent your baby from falling.
Secure the Windows and Balconies
Most children who are 5 years old or younger are able to fit through windows and gaps in balconies easily. According to the US National Security Council, windows are one of the top five hidden safety hazards in the house.(1) Children falling out of the window is, in fact, far more common than what people might think.
According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, approximately eight children under the age of 5 years die every year from falling out of the window.
Furthermore, more than 3,300 get injured severely enough to warrant a visit to the hospital.(2)
Here are some suggestions on how to protect children from falling out of the window or balcony:
- Teach children to play away from the windows.
- Teach children and other caregivers that screens on the windows keep bugs and insects out, but they are not able to keep children inside.
- Keep windows closed and locked when they are not in use.
- Keep anything that a child can climb up to the windows, such as any furniture.
- For any windows that are at least 6 feet above the ground, it is recommended that you install window guards or stops the window from opening too far.
- Restrict the opening of the windows to less than 4 inches.
- Always keep an eye on your children and also ask about window safety if you are taking the child to other homes.
- To lessen the potential impact if an injury or fall does happen, it is better to make use of grass, shrubs, or wood chips underneath the windows.
- Make glass doors or full-length windows visible by putting stickers at the eye level of the child.
- Keep the entrances to the balconies locked and always supervise smaller children closely when they are out in the balconies.
- Put safety gates or safety guards across all possible entries to the balcony. Make sure that there are no footholds or horizontal bars that children could use to climb up.
- Make sure that there are vertical railings on the balcony and that they are at least 1 meter high. The gaps between these railings should also be kept at a minimum distance, no wider than 12.5 centimeters.
Some other prevention tips include opening double-hung windows only from the top part. Remember to not rely solely on window screens to prevent falls.
Prevent Falls From The Stairs
Make it a point to put safety gates at the top and bottom of all staircases. Also, put covers on the doorknobs that lead to certain staircases, such as the ones that lead to the basement. Put in lower stair rails that younger children are able to reach. Never leave clutter lying around on the stairs.
Do not step over the safety gates and show your child that this is one way of getting out. Always open the safety gate when you want to access the stairs. For adults as well, this can be a safety hazard as it is easy to trip over it. Set good and safe examples for your children so that you minimize the chances of falling from the stairs.
There are many types of injuries that can result from falling down the stairs, with some being life threatening even. This is why it is so important to prevent babies from falling down the stairs.(3)
Preventing Falls In The Bathroom
The bathroom can be a very slippery place, not just for children but also for adults. Here are some steps to minimize the risk of falls in the bathroom:
- Always keep your child within your arm’s reach.
- It is always safer to have your child sit up in the bath, so encourage them to stay in a sitting position while they are in the bathtub.
- Use non-slip bath mats if there is no non-slip surface in your bathroom.
- Never leave your child unattended in the bath.
Fall From Baby Furniture And Equipment
It is recommended that you use pre installed safety straps or other safety accessories that come with a high chair or changing table. It is always better to select a high chair that has a broad base so that it makes it does not tip over. Never leave your child unattended in a highchair or on a changing table.
Falling From The Bed
Falling from the bed is also one of the most common places where babies fall.(4)(5) Make it a point to install safety rails on beds, especially for toddlers. Do not use bunk beds for children below the age of six years. Safety rails should also be installed on bunk beds, and the rails should be at least 4 inches high. Keep a nightlight near the bed or the stairs of the bunk bed to allow for safe passage in the night.
Cot bumpers, toys, and pillows can also increase the risk of sudden unexpected death in infancy (SIDS)(6) Remove toys from the bed so that the child does not use them to climb on them and fall out of the cot. The safest thing to do for babies of all ages is not to keep any toys in the bed, especially when the child is sleeping.(7)
Remove, put away, or lock up anything that could be unsafe for the child, and they can climb up on them to reach dangerous places.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends not to use baby walkers.(8) Baby walkers increase the risk of falls. Instead of using baby walkers, consider using alternatives such as a stationary walker center or an activity center.
How To Prevent Falls Outside Of Home?
Here are some precautions to take when you are outside of the house with your baby:
Strollers: When you go shopping for a stroller, search for one that has a broad base so that there is a lesser chance for the stroller to tip over. Always put the safety harness on when your baby is in the stroller. Avoid hanging bags from the handles of the stroller so that it does not tip over. Make sure that you check the weight limit of the stroller, especially on the ones that have a place for older children to stand in the back.
Playgrounds: Look for playgrounds that have shock-absorbing surfaces such as rubber, sand, wood chips, or mulch. If a child falls on cement, turf, and packed dirt, it is more likely to result in serious injuries. To prevent falling from playground equipment, steer your child’s interest in more age-appropriate activities.
Shopping carts: It is possible for a shopping cart to tip over quite easily. Always use the safety belt and put your child in the designated seat in the cart. Do not let your child sit or lie down in the basket, stand in the shopping cart, or hang from the sides of the cart. Avoid having an older child push the cart. Only an adult should push the car when a child is sitting inside.
Escalators: Always hold your child’s hand when you are using an escalator. Be careful and pay attention to any loose shoestrings, clothing, or shoes flip flops that can cause your child or you to trip. Do not allow your child to play or sit on the escalator. Never use the stroller on an escalator.
Slippery surfaces: Advise your child to be careful in wet, dark, and paved areas. Tell them to be extra cautious in cold and icy conditions. Make your children wear comfortable and protective shoes or boots with excellent traction when going out in bad weather. A bulky coat or heavy coat will provide extra cushioning if there is a fall.
Always teach your child about basic safety guidelines, for example, tell them never to run around a swimming pool.
Basic Safety Guidelines to Prevent Falls
Always be aware of the risk of injury from falling by following certain basic safety guidelines:
- Never leave the baby unattended in high places such as the bed, sofa, tabletop, or in the crib with the sides down.
- Don’t leave the baby unattended in the infant seat or any sitting toy, such as a jumper or swing. Always use the safety straps whenever provided.
- A baby who has a pacifier or another object in their mouth, they are at a high risk of getting face and mouth injuries, apart from injuries received due to a fall.
- If there are stairs in the house, use sliding safety gates at both ends of the staircase.
- Avoid using baby walkers. Injuries from a baby walker may include falls and pinches. They can also cause serious accidents such as fall down the stairs.
- Never leave the baby alone near or inside a bathtub.
- Remove potential hazards that may cause your child to fall.
- Lock doors to all dangerous areas and keep the keys out of your child’s reach.
- Be careful while using changing tables and high chairs.
- Keep the walkways and stairways clean and avoid any clutter.
- If there are carpets on the stairs, then they should be in good condition, and there should be no loose ends.
- When the child is outside, always keep an eye on your child. Sloping lawns, uneven grass, and even hilly areas make it difficult for a child to walk on and increases the risk of injuries.
Always keep your child safe from falls. While no parents are able to avoid their child falling once in a while, paying attention and following some basic safety guidelines will help you keep your child safe. Following all the precautions mentioned above will go a long way in preventing falls and resulting injuries.
- Home, S., Topics, S., Safety, C., Safety, W., Topics, S., Safety, C. and Safety, W. (2020). Window Safety. [online] Nsc.org. Available at: https://www.nsc.org/home-safety/safety-topics/child-safety/window-safety [Accessed 31 Jan. 2020].
- onsafety.cpsc.gov (2020). on Safety – Window Safety Tips For National Window Safety Week 2018. [online] Available at: https://onsafety.cpsc.gov/blog/2018/04/02/window-safety-tips-for-national-window-safety-week-2018/ [Accessed 31 Jan. 2020].
- Docherty, E., Hassan, A. and Burke, D., 2010. Things that go bump… bump… bump: an analysis of injuries from falling down stairs in children based at Sheffield Children’s Hospital. Emergency medicine journal, 27(3), pp.207-208.
- Helfer, R.E., Slovis, T.L. and Black, M., 1977. Injuries resulting when small children fall out of bed. Pediatrics, 60(4), pp.533-535.
- Nimityongskul, P. and Anderson, L.D., 1987. The likelihood of injuries when children fall out of bed. Journal of pediatric orthopedics, 7(2), pp.184-186.
- Willinger, M., 1995. SIDS prevention. Pediatric annals, 24(7), pp.358-364.
- Shapiro-Mendoza, C.K., Kimball, M., Tomashek, K.M., Anderson, R.N. and Blanding, S., 2009. US infant mortality trends attributable to accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed from 1984 through 2004: are rates increasing?. Pediatrics, 123(2), pp.533-539.
- Rhodes, K., Kendrick, D. and Collier, J., 2003. Baby walkers: paediatricians’ knowledge, attitudes, and health promotion. Archives of disease in childhood, 88(12), pp.1084-1085.
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