Falls are the most common cause of injury in children who have to go to hospital.
50% of all injuries in children under the age of 5 are due to falls.
It is impossible to prevent all falls from happening. But you can take steps to reduce the risk or prevent serious injury.
Adult supervision and using equipment like changing tables safely can help to prevent falls
Falls in babies and young children usually occur from a height.
This could be from:
- raised surfaces like a changing table, counter top an table
- windows or balconies
- baby walkers
- steps and stairs
- televisions and television stands
- sofas, couches and chairs
- furniture like chests of drawers, bookcases, coat stands
- play equipment like trampolines, slides and swings
- beds and bunk beds
- washing machines, dishwashers and dryers
Preventing falls in babies
Babies can fall when they roll over and move around for the first time.
Injuries can happen when parents and other carers underestimate what their baby can do.
Babies develop new skills very quickly and you might not be prepared for what they can do. For example, your baby could roll off your changing table in a split second when your back is turned.
Bring a baby with you if you need to get something, answer the door or phone rather than leaving them for a moment.
Before they learn to walk they are busy moving around, turning over, creeping and pulling themselves up to grab on to furniture and other items to move around.
Most injuries to babies are preventable. Constant supervision and safe use of equipment will help. Be aware of a baby's next stage of development and the steps they may soon be able to take.
Changing tables and raised surfaces
Never leave a baby alone on a changing table or raised surface. Babies can wiggle off and fall from any raised surface. This can cause serious injury.
Don’t leave a baby bouncer or any other sitting device on a raised surface, such as a table or bed. It could topple over.
Strap babies into all seats, including feeding chairs, car seats, buggies, prams and bouncers. Only use equipment and sitting devices with a 5-way safety harness.
Install stair gates correctly and keep them closed. Use stair gates at top and bottom of stairs. Also use them at other areas that pose a trip hazard, like steps at doorways or changes in floor level. Keep steps and staircases clear.
Furniture and TVs
Avoid placing TVs on cabinets or chests of drawers. Babies will often climb onto cabinet drawers to reach the TV.
Always secure free-standing equipment and furniture to the wall or floor. You can do this by using brackets or straps. If using straps, keep them out of children's sight and reach.
Windows and balconies
Children are fascinated by windows. Window restrictors prevent a child from opening windows where they call fall. Use window restrictors that you do not need tools to open. Some window restrictors require a key or a spanner to open. This could delay you when trying to escape a fire.
Don’t place furniture or items a baby can climb onto near windows, window ledges or balcony doors. Fill in or cover securely any gaps in balcony railings that a baby could fit through or use for climbing.
Be aware that cords on window blinds and curtains have strangled children, causing death. Do not fit blinds and curtains with cords attached.
Don't use baby walkers
Do not use a baby walker. Using a baby walker can put your baby at greater risk of head injuries from falling over or falling down the stairs. Baby walkers allow a child to reach higher than normal. This means they could grab dangerous objects like kettles and medicines. Their risk of burns, scalds and poisoning increases.
Activity centres that don't move or play pens are safer. Babies should only use them for short periods of time and always under supervision. A baby should spend time on the floor. They should roll, crawl and pull themselves up. This supports their motor development. You should watch them at all times.
Reduce hazards around the outside of your home. Check that any walls are safe.
Also, check any gates. Make sure they are closed, locked and in good working order.
You should also make sure there is no equipment or items lying around that a baby could climb onto.
Use the HSE's child proofing check list to help you child proof your home to protect your children. This list is also available from your public health nurse.
Print this child safety wallchart and keep within easy access in your home. Includes tips on child safety, first aid information and emergency contact details.