Preventing accidents

Babies are completely dependent on you for their safety. Here’s what you can do to keep them safe.

Stopping a baby falling

Babies soon learn to wriggle and kick. It’s not long before they can roll over, which means that they can roll off beds and changing tables. Once they learn to crawl, babies may try to climb onto things, such as sofas, which increases the risk of falling. Here are some things you can do:

  • Change your baby’s nappy on a changing mat on the floor.
  • Don’t leave your baby unattended on a bed, sofa or changing table, even for a second, as they could roll off.
  • Don’t put your baby in a bouncing cradle or baby car seat on a table or kitchen worktop as their wriggling could tip it over the edge.
  • Hold on to the handrail when carrying your baby up and down stairs in case you trip.
  • Watch where you’re putting your feet while carrying your baby. It’s easy to trip over something like a toy.
  • Use a five-point harness to secure your baby in a highchair.

When your baby can crawl:

  • Fit safety gates at the top and bottom of the stairs to stop a baby from climbing stairs or falling down them. Close the gates properly after you go through them.
  • If the gaps between banisters or balcony railings are more than 6.5cm (2.5 inches) wide, cover them with boards or safety netting. Small babies may be able to squeeze their bodies through, but not their heads.
  • Keep low furniture away from windows. Have windows fitted with locks or safety catches that restrict the opening to less than 6.5cm (2.5 inches), to stop babies climbing out. Make sure adults know where the keys are kept in case of a fire.
  • Don’t allow your baby to use a baby walker. They’re dangerous and can cause serious accidents.
  • Remove cot toys and cot bumpers as a baby can climb on them and may fall out of the cot.

Preventing baby burns and scalds

A baby’s skin is much thinner than an adult’s and will burn much more easily. This means you need to take extra care at bath time.

  • Babies will grab at brightly coloured objects, such as mugs. If you’re having a hot drink, put it down before you hold your baby.
  • After warming a bottle of milk, shake the bottle well and test the temperature of the milk by placing a few drops on the inside of your wrist before feeding. It should feel lukewarm, not hot.

Stopping a baby choking or suffocating

Babies can choke very easily, even on their milk. They will be tempted to put small objects in their mouths that could cause choking, even when they’re quite young.

  • If you give your baby a bottle, always hold the bottle and your baby while they’re feeding.
  • Keep your baby out of reach of small objects, such as buttons, coins and small toy parts.
  • Once your baby has started on solid food, always cut it up into small pieces. Babies can choke on something as small as a grape.
  • Don’t use pillows or duvets with babies under the age of one as they can suffocate if their face gets smothered. They won’t be able to push the duvet away.

Avoiding baby strangulation

Don’t tie a dummy to your baby’s clothes as the tie or ribbon could strangle them.

Preventing drowning

Babies can drown in as little as 5cm (two inches) of water. Drowning is silent so you won’t necessarily hear any noise or struggle.

  • Stay with your baby all the time that they’re in the bath. Never leave them for a moment, even if there’s an older brother or sister in the bath with them.
  • If you use a bath seat, remember that it’s not a safety device. You still need to stay with your baby all the time.

Preventing poisoning

  • Keep all medicines locked away or high up out of reach and sight.
  • Keep cleaning products high up out of reach. If this isn’t possible, fit safety catches to low cupboard doors. Choose cleaning products that contain a bittering agent. This makes them taste nasty, so children are less likely to swallow them.
  • Make sure bottle tops and lids are always firmly closed when not in use.

Content taken from NHS Choices.