Serious falls account for the most injuries resulting in a hospital visit among young children across the UK.
These injuries usually happen in the home or garden, but there’s plenty you can do to reduce a falls risk.
- Most falls happen when children take their parents by surprise.
- Serious head injuries and fractures can lead to permanent disability of a young child.
- Small changes around the home can help prevent injuries.
Babies develop quickly and within the first few months they can roll, wriggle and kick. You can stop them from falling from a height by making sure that they are in a safe place like a cot or on the floor. Try to avoid leaving a baby on a bed or a sofa.
When carrying a baby around the home, and especially on stairs, hold onto the rail and ensure there aren’t any trip hazards.
The floor is the safest place to change your baby. If they’re sitting in a bouncing cradle or baby car seat they can still wriggle and move in the seat, so keep these on the floor too.
Baby walkers aren’t recommended by health professionals as they increase the risk of injury to babies. There’s also no evidence that they help a baby to walk.
When babies begin to sit unaided, and then start to crawl, they can suddenly move quite quickly getting to places unexpectedly.
Safety gates are a useful addition to the home as they can prevent falls and are particularly useful near stairs.
When your baby starts crawling, areas you not have previously considered can become a risk. Crawlers may start pulling themselves up onto sofas and will be a bit wobbly.
Consider putting protectors or soft corners on to coffee tables and low units, which can help your child avoid sharp corners if they do fall.
Safety gates (see above) can be used until toddlers are 24 months old to stop them climbing stairs or falling down them.
Consider boarding gaps between bannisters to stop children climbing through them. Why not show your child how to climb up and down the stairs safely.
A number of young children are seriously injured, or die, as a result of falls from a balcony, they should be kept away from them unless supervised by an adult.
There should be a barrier at least 110cms (43’’) high around the edge of the balcony. Furniture of any kind or large pot plants can be a hazard if a child uses them to climb up.
Also, check the width of the railings on your balcony, if there are gaps of more than 6.5cm a young child could squeeze through and it is recommended they are boarded up.
Toddlers may be tempted to climb onto furniture, near windows, to sit on the sill. Window restrictors stop windows from opening more than 6.5cm.
In bedrooms especially, keep cots and beds away from windows.
Beds – Falls from bunk beds are common in young children and result in sprains and fractures. Read more on bunk beds here.
Pre-schoolers and school children
Show children how to hold on to the banister on the stairs and remind them not to run or play on stairs.
Ensure your child is the right age to play on home play equipment like trampolines or climbing frames. It’s a good idea to check the equipment regularly and make sure it is secure and safe to use.
Public parks and playgrounds generally have modern equipment that meet the British Standard. However, adult supervision is most important to prevent the risk of a serious injury.
Child injury experts currently have concerns about mobile device distraction when adults are looking after children, as they may be focusing on their phone and not the child.
Encourage children to always wear a cycle helmet whenever they’re on their bikes or scooters.
Giving your garden a safety makeover means your child can have fun without getting injured. It’s best to put play equipment over something soft like a mat, soft earth or well-watered grass. If you’ve got paving slabs, check they’re level and not cracked.
If you’d like to know more about falls, ask one of our experts. Contact us for more information here.