Community staff nurses
Safety at home
There you are having your new born baby placed in your arms for the first time... even as a brand new baby, you’ll notice how much they move about; squirming and wriggling constantly.
And it won’t be long til they can roll over, which means you need to start taking extra care of baby proofing your home. So let’s have a think about what steps you need to take.
Never step away from your baby if you’re changing them on a table or the bed, even for a second, as they can easily roll off... even if you don’t realise they can roll yet, babies can surprise you.
When you’re not feeding or cuddling your baby, make sure you place them in their cot, or on the floor on a rug and clean mat – remember they can’t fall off the floor so they’re safest there! And always keep bouncing cradles or baby car seats on the floor, rather than on a table or kitchen worktop, as your baby's wriggling could tip it over the edge.
Keep new babies away from older siblings, especially toddlers, if you aren’t closely supervising.
Weaning and choking
If you give your baby a bottle, always hold the bottle and your baby while they're feeding.
Food is the most common thing that babies and toddlers will choke on. Here is some basic tips for once your baby has started on solid food at six months:
- Sit your baby upright in a high chair
- Babies can choke on surprisingly small foods, so always cut food up into small pieces
- Grapes are a very common cause of choking and even death and should always be cut lengthways before giving to your child
- Foods like whole nuts should be avoided
- Don’t give young children hard food
- Stay with your child when they're eating
- Encourage them to sit still while they eat, as running around while eating could make them choke
Hand to mouth exploration is part of the normal developmental process. Young children will often explore by putting small objects in their mouths that could cause choking, so be extra careful if there’s an older sibling with small toys like Lego.
Suffocation and safe sleeping
A great place to start with making sure your baby is sleeping safely is to check out the Lullaby Trust guidelines for safe sleeping.
Don’t use pillows or duvets with babies under the age of one year, and keep their sleeping area free from bumpers, pillows and soft toys. They can suffocate if their face gets smothered, and won't be able to push the covers etc away.
Babies should always sleep on their back with their feet at the foot of their cot. Tuck the blanket in across their chest and under their arms: or put them into a baby sleeping bag.
If you plan to carry your baby in a sling, follow the TICKS advice to reduce the risk of suffocation: Keep your baby Tight, In view, Close enough to kiss, Keep their chin off their chest, with a Supported back.
Here are some simple pointers to prevent strangulation:
- Don’t tie a dummy to your baby's clothes, as the tie or ribbon could strangle them
- If you have any blinds keep them on a short cord and tied up out of reach, ideally they should be secured to the wall
- Don’t risk leaving any type of rope or cord lying around, including dressing gown cords and drawstring bags
Once your baby starts to get more mobile and crawl around and pull themselves up on furniture, get down on your hand and knees on the floor and look at the world from their eyes. Everything is so interesting! Think about stair gates across the kitchen, at the top and the bottom of the stairs... Make sure that bookcases are secured to the wall and can’t be pulled down. Make sure scissors, knives and razors are out of reach.
Falls in toddlers
Keep low furniture away from windows so that toddlers can’t climb up. Keep windows shut if children can get near them, but it’s a great ideas to 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.
When babies start to walk, they're often unsteady on their feet, but can move very quickly, and easily trip and fall.
Start to teach your child how to climb stairs, but never let them go up and down on their own. Also install stair gates at the top and bottom of every staircase in your home. If furniture has sharp corners, use corner protectors to prevent your child from hurting their head.
Medicines, mainly Calpol and Brufen/Iprobrufen are the cause of over 70% of hospital admissions for poisoning in under-5s. Keep all medicines under lock and key.
Keep cleaning products high up out of reach, including those for the washing machine and toilet. If this isn't possible, fit safety catches to low cupboard doors. Detergents, especially pods, come in very exciting colours to a child, and can be lethal if they are eaten. Never put these somewhere that a child can access.
Keep e-cigarettes and their refills out of sight and reach of babies and toddlers. Nicotine is poisonous and can be very dangerous for young children.
Check your garden for poisonous plants. Berries are very enticing to the young eye, but mostly highly toxic.
Burns and scalds
A baby's skin burns more easily than an adult's, so you need to take extra care to avoid burns and scalds.
At bath time, run cold water into the bath first, then add some hot. Check the temperature with your elbow before your child gets in, and stay with them the whole time they are in the bath. Remember, babies can drown in as little as 5cm (2 inches) of water.
If you're having a hot drink, put it down well out of reach before you hold your baby. Keep hot drinks well away from all young children. A hot drink can still scald 15 minutes after it was made.
After warming a bottle of formula, shake the bottle well and test the temperature by placing a few drops on the inside of your wrist before feeding. Avoid heating up bottles of formula in a microwave to prevent hot spots.
When cooking, use the rings at the back of the cooker and turn saucepan handles towards the back, so they cannot be grabbed by little fingers.
We hope this has been a helpful blog – for more information see our child safety pages.