Poisoning is one of main causes of injury to babies and young children, due to there being so many poisonous items around the home.  Read our advice below to help make your home safer.

Top Tip

  1. Paracetamol poisoning is the most common way for children to be poisoned.
  2. The popular strawberry-flavoured liquid paracetamol that is widely available, is liked by most little ones. A young child may try and drink from the bottle if it’s left unattended.
  3. Everyday tablets that you might keep in your handbag or bedside cabinet, may appeal to children as they can look like sweets.
  4. Child-resistant tops and tablets in strip and blister packs help to slow children down but they are not childproof.
  5. Liquid detergent capsules, dishwasher tabs and concentrated liquids are caustic and can cause internal chemical burns, if swallowed. The capsules and tabs come in boxes that aren’t child-resistant.  All these items should be stored out of the reach of children and, preferably, locked away.
  6. Button batteries (lithium) have caused severe injury to several young children when swallowed. When a battery becomes stuck in a child’s throat, it releases caustic soda (a chemical used to unblock drains) which will burn through a child’s organs and blood vessels.
  7. E-cigarettes and liquids are a poison risk to young children. The attractive bottles of liquid nicotine can be mistaken for juice and are easy to open.
  8. Have household appliances regularly checked for carbon monoxide levels.

Safety tips

Babies and crawlers 

From around six months, babies start to put everything in their mouths – which means they are at risk of swallowing something harmful. Keep poisonous items out of reach and locked away.

Fitting child safety catches on low cupboard doors and drawers helps to prevent young children getting to cleaning products.

If you keep pills in your bag, it’s best not to leave it on the floor, as a crawling child have easy access.


Toddlers are at more risk of poisoning than any other age group.

The information for babies and crawlers still applies for toddlers. Experts recommend keeping harmful products in a room where people are often around, like a kitchen. They also suggest not storing such items in bathrooms.

Lead by example and don’t climb on chairs or worktops to explore cupboards, as toddlers are likely to imitate your behaviour.  The same goes for taking medicine in view of young children, who may like to copy you.

Try to avoid pretending your toddler’s medicine is a sweet, as this can confuse them.

Scan the homes of family and friends when you first enter to check they haven’t left any dangerous items lying around.

Even small amounts of alcohol can be harmful to small children, so clear up any glasses with alcohol dregs in them.

Remember to be careful with aromatherapy oils, perfumes and cigarettes too as they can all be harmful to small children.

In the garden, you may have a shed with products like anti-freeze or weed killers. Its best to keep the shed locked. Discourage toddlers from eating any plants in the garden, as they may be poisonous.

Pre-schoolers and school children

Children between three to five are much more likely to be able to open child-resistant tops, so continue to keep items – from medicines to chemicals – locked away.



There is growing evidence that the liquid nicotine refills from e-cigarettes pose a significant poisoning risk to young children.

Hospitals are reporting growing numbers of children accidentally swallowing liquid nicotine from e-cigarette refills. Nicotine is a highly toxic substance, through ingestion, inhalation or skin contact – especially for young children. Ingestion of only a tiny amount can be fatal.

A bulletin circulated to GPs and pharmacists in Northern Ireland in January 2016 stated less than 2mls can be fatal for an adult, and warns that it is very likely to be even less than this for a child.

Always remember to secure liquid refills away from your child’s reach and keep them locked away.

Carbon Monoxide

You can’t see, smell or taste it, but if carbon monoxide creeps out from a flame burning appliance it can kill children in seconds.

Always make sure that you have an audible carbon monoxide alarm fitted in your home – ideally one in every room with a fuel-burning appliance.

Ask the expertIf you’d like to know more about poisoning, ask one of our experts. Contact us for more information here.