Falls are the leading cause of injury in babies. Here’s how you can prevent them from happening.
In Canada, falling is the leading cause of injury in babies. But did you know that most falls can be prevented? Here’s an overview of the risks and precautions you can take to make your home safer.
Always remain vigilant
Changing tables, sofas, infant car seats, high chairs, and strollers are the main surfaces that babies tend to fall from. For little ones who can crawl and walk, the risks are different. At this age, you need to watch out for stairs, beds, windows, balconies, furniture, and cribs.
What to do to avoid falls
- Have you ever let your baby sleep on a sofa or an adult bed?
Even if you surround your baby with pillows or cushions, never leave them unattended while they’re lying on a sofa or bed.
- Do you sometimes skip buckling your baby into their stroller or high chair?
Always use safety belts and straps to secure your baby in their stroller, swing, high chair, or car seat.
- Have you ever walked away from the changing table?
Always keep one hand on your baby when they’re on the changing table. If you need to step away from the table, even for a few seconds, pick them up, place them on the floor, or put them in their crib.
- Do you sometimes place your car seat on the table, counter, or dryer?
The floor is always the safest place. Never set your baby’s car seat on a high surface while they’re sitting in it.
- Have you checked the height of your baby’s crib mattress?
Adjust the crib mattress to the lowest position when your baby is between 3 and 5 months old.
Other risks of falls
- Furniture: Move furniture away from windows and balcony doors so your child can’t climb on it.
- Windows and balconies: Install safety devices that limit how far windows can open, and keep the balcony door locked at all times.
- Shelves, chests of drawers, television sets: Secure them to the wall to ensure they can’t tip over.
- Toys and other objects: To avoid tripping, don’t leave these items lying on the floor or stairs.
- Stairs: Install one safety gate at the bottom of the stairs and a second one that screws into the wall at the top of the stairs.
- Baby walkers: Don’t use baby walkers. The risk of falling with them is so great, it is illegal to buy or sell them in Canada.
Is the grocery cart a safe option?
The grocery cart is not safe for children under the age of 2, and falling from them is very common. Use a stroller whenever possible. However, if you must use the grocery cart:
Avoid placing the car seat on the bars of the cart.
Use the cart seat if your baby is old enough.
Do not allow your child to stand in the cart.
Never leave your child unattended and never go further than an arm’s length away.
Has your baby experienced a fall?
A baby’s head is especially heavy compared to the rest of their body. For this reason, babies often fall on their heads. Consequently, the most common types of fall injuries infants suffer are concussions and skull fractures.
If your child is knocked unconscious after a fall, call 911. Furthermore, if your baby is less than 3 months old, you should see a doctor right away, even if they seem fine. If your baby is older than 3 months and behaves normally after being comforted, you don’t need to see a doctor. That said, you should watch out for signs of concussion.
To learn more about the symptoms and when to seek medical attention, see our fact sheet on concussion (link in French).
Things to keep in mind
You can prevent serious falls by making your home more secure and staying vigilant.
The most common fall injuries in babies are concussions and skull fractures.
The grocery cart is not a safe place to sit for children under the age of 2.
If you have any concerns, call 811.
Scientific review: Liane Fransblow, Coordinator, Injury Prevention Program, Montreal Children’s Hospital Trauma Centre
Research and copywriting: The Naître et grandir team
Ferland, Francine. Veiller à la sécurité de son enfant. Montreal, Éditions du CHU Sainte-Justine, 2010, 84 pp.