Preventing Injuries to Infants and Toddlers

Jun 4, 2019

North Central Baptist Hospital Emergency Physicians Offer Safety Tips

September is Baby Safety Month, an opportunity to raise awareness about and offer tips for parents on how to prevent infant and toddler accidents, injuries and even deaths. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year more than 17 percent of all households will have at least one accident, requiring a trip to the hospital emergency room for their child.

Pediatric emergency physician Maria Johnson, M.D. at North Central Baptist Hospital provides expert emergency care for a wide variety of injuries caused by accidents and offers some tips for parents to help keep their children safe.

Prevent suffocation with safe sleep practices:

A number of safe sleep practices can help prevent suffocation in infants. Babies placed on an adult bed can become trapped between the bed and a wall, bed frame, headboard or footboard. Suffocation in soft bedding is a risk due to pillows or thick quilts, and babies can fall onto the floor into piles of clothing, plastic bags, or other soft materials, which can result in suffocation. When using a crib, parents should make sure it meets current safety standards, has a firm, tight-fitting mattress and tight-fitting bottom sheet. When using a portable crib or playpen, be sure to use only the mattress or pad provided by the manufacturer. Air mattresses or other soft surfaces should not be used for sleeping babies. Suffocation can result from children falling into even small gaps created by uneven surfaces. Always place the baby to sleep on his or her back, not stomach.

Avoid Scalding & Burns:

Babies and young children can receive serious burns from tap water alone. To help prevent these, lower your water heater temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or the lowest setting that will satisfy all hot household water needs. Always hand-test before placing infants and young children in the bath, and never leave a child unsupervised in the bathroom.

Prevent strangulation:

Infants and young children can strangle on cords, strings, necklaces, ribbons and other items left in or near cribs and play areas. Never leave cords of any kind near an infant, and never tie pacifiers or other items around a child's neck. Remove bibs or other clothing tied around a child's neck before putting them in a crib or play yard.

Falls from shopping carts:

Every year, thousands of children are treated in hospital emergency rooms for falls from

shopping carts. These types of accidents are the leading causes of head injuries to young

children and can be fatal. To prevent shopping cart falls, never allow your child to stand in a shopping cart or place a personal infant carrier or car seat in the cart seat or basket. Stay with your child at all times while shopping.

Preventing in-home drowning

About two-thirds of the drowning deaths in the home, not including pools, occur in bathtubs. Some of these bathtub drowning deaths can even happen when children are in bath seats or rings. Never leave a baby alone, or with young siblings, in a bathtub even for a second. Five-gallon buckets used for household chores can also pose a threat to toddlers. Due to their shape, it is nearly impossible for babies to free themselves when they fall in headfirst. Toilets are often overlooked as a drowning hazard in the home. Remember to close toilet lids after use. Spas and hot tubs pose another drowning hazard. Childhood drowning deaths also occur in other containers with liquids including pails, coolers, sinks, fish tanks and landscape ponds.

Always call 911 in an emergency rather than trying to get to the hospital in a personal car. Infant and Child safety information is available from the Consumer Product Safety Commission. For more info go to:

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