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It is important to prevent accidents which could harm your baby. Please read the below information from the Child Accident Prevention Trust to find out how to keep your child safe.
A small child’s skin burns really easily as it’s so thin. Here’s how to prevent serious burns:
Stay hot enough to scald a small child even after 15 minutes. 8 to 18 month-olds are most vulnerable as they love to grab.
- Look for safe zones in your house where you know your child can’t reach your hot drink
- Try to get into the habit of putting your child down before you pick up your drink.
Can get as hot as your iron and can still burn 15 minutes after they are switched off.
- Keep straighteners and wands out of reach when you’re using them
- Put them in a heat-proof pouch or on a high shelf to cool.
If a child swallows a lithium coin cell battery (the round silver battery like a 5p coin) and it gets stuck in their food pipe, it can burn a hole and cause internal bleeding and even death.
- Keep any loose batteries out of reach and dispose of ‘flat’ batteries quickly and safely
- Keep objects out of reach if they have button batteries your child can get to.
High-strength magnets in toys can burn through the gut if your child swallows them.
- Buy from a reputable retailer or a brand name you know online or in-store, and avoid online marketplaces.
Young children don’t automatically pull away from something that’s burning them. They may forget the rules about not touching hot things.
- Push kettles to the back of the worktop and use the back rings of the cooker first
- If you’re able to keep children out of the kitchen when you’re cooking, great. Or try to keep them in a highchair or away from the cooker if not.
These scalds are really nasty and can happen in seconds.
- Put cold water in first then top up with hot. Then you don’t need to worry about there being a scalding bath your child could fall or climb into
- Test the temperature of the water with your elbow before putting your child into the bath
- Stay with your child in the bathroom in case they fiddle with the hot tap.
Fires and heaters
A risk to small children.
- Move cots away from radiators. Then your baby can’t get their arm or leg trapped against the heat
- Fit fireguards around fires and heaters.
Bright bottles of cleaning liquid, squidgy washing tablets, shiny packets of painkillers… Small children are curious and want to learn more by putting things in their mouth. Unfortunately things that make our lives easier can be harmful to small children, as their bodies process poisons differently. Thank goodness it’s easy to keep children safe.
Small children can mistake brightly coloured products for sweets or toys, especially laundry capsules. But the concentrated chemicals can do serious damage to children’s insides, skin and eyes.
- It’s tempting to keep products beside the washing machine. Move them to a high up or lockable cupboard
- Watch out for fast little fingers! Don’t leave a washing tablet on top of the washing
- Put products away out of reach as soon as you’ve used them
- When you’re shopping, look out for products with a bittering agent like Bitrex - it tastes so horrible, children spit it out instead of swallowing, preventing accidental poisoning.
The most common way for young children to be poisoned.
- Keep all medicines out of reach and sight of young children, ideally in a high up or lockable cupboard
- Watch out for painkillers left on the bedside table or in the handbag on the floor.
Helpful for you but they can be harmful for small children.
- What’s lurking under your sink or next to your toilet? Move cleaning products to a high up or lockable cupboard
- Put them out of reach again as after use
- Don’t rely on safety caps – they slow children down but they’re not childproof
- Look out for products with a bittering agent like Bitrex when you’re shopping
- Don’t pour cleaning products into other bottles like drinks bottles. Children can get confused.
Such a scary thought that something could stop your child breathing. But, the steps to stop that happening are simple and make sense.
It can take just 20 seconds for a toddler to die from strangulation with an unsafe window blind cord.
- Fit a cleat hook or tensioner to keep blind cords and chains safely away and always use them. New blinds should come with these
- Consider cord free blinds for children’s rooms
- Remember children may climb and get higher than you think. Move bedroom furniture away from cords and chains
- Make sure the cords on the back of Roman blinds are connected using a device that breaks under pressure.
Sleeping and slings
Babies can be suffocated by things they can’t push away.
- A clear cot is a safe cot – avoid duvets, pillows and cot bumpers
- Don’t sleep on the sofa with your baby as it increases their chances of suffocation massively
- If you’re exhausted or have been drinking or smoking, or if they are premature or low birth weight, don’t sleep with your baby in your bed
- Follow the T.I.C.K.S advice for slings or carriers www.babyslingsafety.co.uk
Young babies naturally grasp things and pull them to their mouths, but aren’t able to pull them away. They can suffocate on flimsy nappy sacks.
- Store nappy sacks well out of reach of babies
- Never store nappy sacks under the cot mattress.
Babies and young children are still learning to chew, swallow and breathe in the right order. There’s no sound to warn you. But there are simple ways to stop it happening.
- Don’t prop a baby’s bottle up to feed them
- Cut round food like grapes, tomatoes and big blueberries in half lengthways or quarters, not just across
- Cut hard food like carrots, apples, sausages and cheese into thin strips, and chop nuts up small
- Avoid popcorn, marshmallows and hard round sweets like mini eggs or boiled sweets
- Put small parts from older children’s toys out of reach
- Watch the Chokeables film for first aid advice www.sja.org.uk/thechokeables
Choking usually tops parents’ fears when it comes to accidents. And rightly so.
Young children have narrow airways and are still learning to chew, breathe and swallow in the right order (add talking or moving around and it gets really complicated).
Knowing some simple steps puts you in the driving seat and lessens the worry.
- STAY – Stay with children when they’re eating – it’s the biggest thing you can do for them
- STILL – Get children to sit still – it can be a battle but it’s much safer
Avoid these foods – for babies and young children
While it’s possible for a child to choke on anything, some foods pose more of a risk than others and should be avoided until your child is a more competent eater.
- Hard food like popcorn can easily get stuck.
- Marshmallows get sticky when wet so can seal the airway and may not come out with back blows.
- Round hard sweets (including mini-eggs) are slippery so can easily be swallowed and completely block the airway.
- Jelly cubes can get sticky when wet so seal the airway
- Peanut butter on its own – globs of peanut butter can seal the airway, so only use it as a spread.
- Whole grapes are the perfect size to block the airway and can be difficult to dislodge because of their flexible texture. Always cut them up. Learn more
- A note about lollipops – if a lollipop comes off a stick, it in effect becomes a hard boiled sweet. So they’re best avoided for under-threes.
Foods to cut up
- Think anything round, hard, chunky, doughy or stodgy.
- Sausages or hot dogs – cut into short, narrow strips lengthways as thin as possible. Removing the skin makes them easier to swallow.
- Meat – cut into strips and remove any bones, skin or fat.
- Fruit – check for pips or stones and remove them.
- Round fruit like grapes, blueberries, cherries, strawberries and cherry tomatoes – cut lengthways and then into quarters.
- Vegetables and larger fruit like melon, apple, mango, carrot and cucumber – cut into thin strips. You can grate or mash soft food or steam or simmer harder food to soften it, especially for weaning or very young children.
- Removing skin from fruits or vegetables makes them easier to swallow and reduces the risk of your child choking on the skin.
- Legumes like chickpeas and butter beans – mash or steam to soften them.
- Whole nuts should not be given to children under five. Chop or flake nuts and seeds.
- Cheese – cut into narrow batons or strips.
- White bread can form a doughy ball in the throat, so brown or toasted bread is a good option. Cut all types of bread into narrow strips.
- Remember – cutting up food does not reduce the need to stay with young children when they’re eating!
Scrapes and bruises are a part of growing up. But even a fall from a highchair can cause a bad head injury. That’s because babies’ heads are twice as big as ours, which makes them top-heavy. And when they land, their head takes much of the impact. It doesn’t make sense trying to stop all falls. But there are some serious ones you can easily stop once you know how and why.It doesn’t make sense trying to stop all falls. But there are some serious ones you can easily stop once you know how and why.
Cots, beds and changing tables - now I can wriggle and roll!
- Even small babies can wriggle off a bed or changing table – so change their nappies on the floor and avoid leaving them on a raised surface
- As soon as your baby can stand, remove any large toys they might climb on to get out of their cot, preventing serious falls.
Stairs – I can shuffle and I’m off!
- Even before they’re mobile, babies are injured when the person carrying them falls. So keep a hand on the rail going up and down stairs
- As soon as your baby starts moving around, fit safety gates to stop them climbing or falling down the stairs.
Highchairs – is that my drink?
- Children may try to get things that are out of their reach
- They may lean over the side and topple out or push themselves up and try to climb out
- Get into the habit of using the straps on the highchair every time you use it.
Windows – what’s that I can see?
- Small children are curious and want to see what’s happening outside but have no real understanding of danger
- Take care not to put furniture in front of windows, especially in children’s bedrooms
- If you can, get safety catches or locks fitted on your windows
- If you opt for a lock, keep the keys somewhere you can find them, in case there’s a fire and you need to get out
Trampolines – how high can I bounce?
- The biggest risk from trampolines is having two people with very different weights
- Let children take it in turns and avoid adults and children jumping together
- Use a safety net or cage so children can’t be thrown onto the ground.
Gagging or choking?
It can be alarming seeing your child gag. But gagging is normal and is a part of learning how much food they can chew and swallow.
Whereas choking is silent (because the food has blocked the airway), gagging is noisy. Your child may stick their tongue out while gagging and their eyes may water.
If inhaled, a balloon or bits of a broken balloon can seal a child’s airway. They can be very hard to remove.
So, avoid giving young children balloons to blow up and clear away any broken bits straight away. Keep crawlers off the floor until bits of balloon are cleared away.
Small objects and toys
Remember, anything smaller than a 2 pence piece can choke a young child.
Toys for under 36 months, made to proper safety standards, won’t have small parts that can choke.
But cheap toys bought online might not meet those standards. If you’re not sure, give your child’s toys a check over for loose small parts.
Keep older children’s toys with small parts out of reach and keep coins and buttons stored out of reach.
First aid for choking
Knowing what to do if your child is choking means you give your child the best chance of recovery. You can watch the St John’s Ambulance videos on first aid for a choking child and first aid for a choking baby here.
It can be hard knowing how best to teach your child to stay safe. Here we help you to break it down and keep it simple.
Pedestrians – younger children
- Get young children into the habit of holding your hand or use walking reins
- Ask questions while you’re out to help them understand simple ideas like ‘fast’ and ‘slow’
- You can start teaching the Green Cross Code from age five, encouraging children to stop, look, listen and think
- But they won’t always remember safety rules, especially if they’re excited or spot a friend across the road
- Children will copy what you do, so try to avoid stepping into the road without checking for traffic first. If you can do the right thing, it will help them get into good habits.
Pedestrians – older children
- Children find it difficult judging the speed and distance of traffic until they’re at least eight. Accidents peak around 12, as children start making independent journeys
- Children learn by doing and practising. If they’re moving to a new school, help them practise the route over the holidays. Where are the safe places to cross? What should they do if they see their bus and they’re on the other side of the road?
- They can be mesmerised by their mobiles, so remind them not to talk or text on their phones or listen to music while crossing the road.
In the car
Make sure your car seat is the right one for your child’s height and weight and for your car - not all seats fit all cars
- Get your child into the habit of wearing their helmet. If you cycle as a family, remember to wear yours too
- Look out for cycle training. Many schools offer courses to help children gain practical skills.
- Speed is everything when it comes to a child’s chances of survival. They’re 3.5 times more likely to die if hit by a car doing between 30-40 mph.
- Keep an eye on your speed
- Keep your phone in the glove compartment so it can’t distract you.
Drowning happens silently. A drowning child can’t speak or control their arms. They slip quietly under the water. It’s only in the movies they splash about and cry for help. It’s a scary thought. But once you understand how and where drowning happens, there are things you can do to prevent it.
Babies and small children – mostly drown at home in the bath or in the garden, in just a few centimetres of water.
- Bath seats are great for supporting your baby in the bath but they’re not safety aids – a baby shouldn’t be left alone in one even for a moment as they can slip out
- Get everything you need ready before bath time because you’ll need to stay with your baby or young child all the time they’re in the bath
- Don’t rely on your toddler to keep an eye on the baby while you pop out for a towel, as they’re still too young to understand danger.
In the garden
- Empty the paddling pool out after you’ve used it
- Turn a pond into a sandpit, or fence it in or cover it while your children are little
- Make sure your child can’t get to the neighbour’s pond
- Be alert to ponds or pools when visiting other people’s homes
Older children – can still get into difficulties. They may over-estimate how strong a swimmer they are or under-estimate risks in the sea or open water.
Out and about
- Teach older children to choose safe places to swim like public pools and beaches with lifeguards
- Explain the dangers of swimming in open water, including strong currents, deep, cold water and things under the surface they can’t see.
At the beach
- Teach children to swim between the two-coloured red and yellow flags – these mark the areas patrolled by lifeguards
- Inflatables can be swept out to sea when the wind is blowing – keep children off inflatables when the orange windsock is flying and always keep an eye on them.
You and your family are eight times more likely to die in a fire if you don’t have a working smoke alarm. That’s because, if a fire breaks out at night, you won’t smell the smoke and wake up. Instead, the poisonous fumes will send you deeper into sleep. So it makes sense to have a smoke alarm upstairs and downstairs, to save you from smoke that can kill in minutes, before you even wake up.
- Cooking fires are the main cause of fires in the home – stay in the kitchen if children are cooking
- Keep matches, lighters and lit candles or tea-lights well out of reach of young children and teach children not to play with them
- Take care not to plug lots of chargers and equipment into an extension lead from one electrical socket - the socket will be dangerously overloaded
- Stay close by when you have fat heating and never pour water onto hot fat
- Store things like hair straighteners safely – avoid leaving them switched on or where a child might be able to switch them on
- Double check your cigarette is out and be careful smoking if you’re really tired (or in bed) in case you fall asleep with it in your hand.
Check your smoke alarms
- You need a working smoke alarm upstairs and downstairs
- Test your alarms every month
- If you live in rented housing your landlord is responsible for providing alarms.
Plan your escape
- Work out your escape route in case of a fire and practice it with your family • Keep the stairs and escape route clear of clutter at night
- Keep keys to any doors on your escape route in one place so you know where they are in an emergency.
Teach children what to do if they see a fire
- To tell someone straight away – a grown-up if possible
- Don’t try to put the fire out yourself
- Get outside as quickly as possible. Don’t try to hide from the fire
- Never go back inside for anything.
If you’ve a baby on the way, now’s the time to start preparing your dog. Gradually introduce changes in your home and routines, using rewards your dog enjoys, to help them cope well with the new arrival.
Things to start early
- Think about how your walking times or routes might differ and start to introduce changes
- Get your dog used to being by themselves in another room, either with the door closed or with a safety gate
- You could make them their own quiet space away from the main living room.
When you have baby things
- If you’ve been given or bought any baby things, set them up as soon as you have them so your dog can sniff and get used to them
- If you have a pram, you could practice with your dog walking alongside it
- Try using a doll as a pretend baby. Praise your dog or give treats when they keep their paws on the ground around the doll
- If you have a phone to play baby sounds on, this can help your dog get used to new noises Baby’s arrival
- Ask a family member to walk the dog before you bring the baby home, so they’re relaxed
- Say hello to your dog first. Then introduce the baby in a quiet room
- Give your dog lots of treats for good behaviour.
At home with your baby
- Always stay with your baby when your dog is there
- Avoid putting your baby down on the floor or in a Moses basket on the floor
- If you have a crib downstairs, use a safety gate or keep it where your dog won’t be able to knock it over.
If you’re worried by the way your dog is with your child, talk to your vet. They’ll check your dog’s health and can refer you to a qualified animal behaviourist.
Visit the Animal Behaviour and Training Council website to find a qualified behaviourist near you.