Falls in young children

In Canada, falls in and around the home are the leading cause of injury in young children.   

A young child’s head is heavier than the rest of his body, which increases the risk of toppling over.
They lack judgment and their motor skills are not fully developed. 

Constant supervision is important.
 
Follow these recommendations to prevent your children from seriously injuring themselves:
Crib and changing table in your baby’s room

Crib and changing table in your baby’s room

  • Only use a crib made after 1986 which meets current Canadian safety regulations.Be careful with purchases made at garage sales.  Health Canada does not recommend using cribs older than 10 years.
  • Make sure the mattress fits tightly against all four sides of the crib.
  • Never let your child sleep on an adult bed or sofa.
  • Place your baby on his/her back to sleep, for naps and at night. When your baby is able to turn from back to tummy on his/her own, it is safe to let your baby sleep in any position he/she wants.
  • Do not keep objects such as stuffed toys, pillows, bumperpads and comforters in a baby’s crib.
  • Keep the side rails of the crib up at all times. Remember to lower the crib mattress when your baby reaches three to five months of age and/or when your baby begins to push up on to their hands and knees.
  • Avoid placing the crib and furniture near windows. Remember to put window guards on all windows of the house. Screens are not very sturdy and your child can push through them. 
  • Maintain constant hand contact with your baby on a changing table; do not turn around or leave your baby alone, even for a single second.
Child restraints

Child restraints

  • When using an infant or car seat, make sure your baby is restrained at all times.
  • Never place your baby in an infant or car seat on a table, countertop or car roof. The safest place is on the floor. 
  • Always secure safety straps when your child is in a swing, high chair, stroller and car seat. 
  • Only use a bicycle carrier when your child is over 1 year old. Ensure that your child wears a properly fitted helmet. Set a positive example by wearing a helmet yourself.
Considerations for other rooms in the house

Considerations for other rooms in the house

  • Block stairs with safety gates. Only use safety gates that screw into the wall at the top of the stairs. Pressure gates can give way causing your child to fall.
  • Baby walkers are dangerous and have been banned in Canada since 2004.
  • Secure wall units and shelving units onto the wall.
  • Do not let your child play in the bathroom; its surfaces are hard and slippery.
  • Never leave your child unattended on a balcony and make sure there are no chairs to climb.
  • Supervise older siblings while they are holding your baby, preferably while sitting down. 
  • Do not place a fussy baby on a washing machine or dryer to soothe his/her colic.
Shopping with your child – shopping carts

Shopping with your child – shopping carts

Shopping cart related injuries are common in children younger than 5  and can result in serious injury.
 
The Center for Injury Research and Policy
 reported in 2014 that approximately 24,000 children are treated in U.S. emergency rooms for shopping cart related injuries each year.

The Emergency Department at the Montreal Children Hospital sees on average 20 children a year having fallen off shopping carts. The most common injuries seen are head and neck injuries, as well as fractures.

RECOMMENDATIONS:

  • Be aware of the potential for cart instability causing falls and tip-overs.
  • Avoid using shopping carts if possible. Seek alternatives such as making your older child walk; or placing your baby in a stroller and bringing another adult with you to look after the baby while you are shopping.

If you choose to use a shopping cart, is important to: 

  • Constantly supervise your child.
  • Use age and size appropriate restraints at all times. This also applies to mini cars attached to the wagon. 
  • Never leave your child unattended or be more than an arms length within reach. 
  • Never allow your child to stand in the shopping cart. 
  • Never place an infant carrier on top of the shopping cart 
  • Never allow your child to ride on the outside of the cart.
  • Never allow your child to push  a shopping cart. It is too large for a young child to manage and can easily tip over.
Related articles

Related articles

Reviewed by Trauma specialists at the Montreal Children’s Hospital.
Last updated: July 2013, October 2015

Trauma

Phone : 514-412-4400 ext. 23310

Fax : 514-412-4254

514-412-4499, Emergency Department (for patient transfer) / 514-412-4399 (fax)