Keeping Our Children Safe as They Grow
Our major responsibility is to keep our beloved little ones safe as they grow. Starting from about 6 month age babies learn to wiggle and roll over, kick and push, put things in their mouths and play in the water at bath time.
Risk of falling
- Never leave your baby alone on a change table, bed, sofa, chair or table. If you need to turn away, keep one hand on the child or take him / her with you.
- Use safety gates at the top and bottom of the stairs even before your child starts to crawl – you never know when a baby will try to crawl for the first time! At the top of the stairs use a safety gate that is anchored to the wall or banister. Children can push over a pressure gate. Do not use old-style safety gates that have V-shaped or diamond-shaped openings. Babies can get their heads caught in those openings and choke.
- Keep the sides up on the crib when your child is in it and you are not beside him / her.
- Never put a baby in a baby walker with wheels. They tip easily and the child might fall down stairs or reach and pull objects down on his / her head that he / she normally could not reach. In fact, walkers don’t help children learn to walk and if used for too long they may actually slow development. Instead, use an exersaucer or stationary activity centre.
Risk of injury in a car crash
- Keep your baby in a car seat every time he / she is in a car. Never allow a baby to travel without using a car seat, no matter whose car it is — including cars driven by grandparents, aunts and uncles or babysitters.
- The safest place for the car seat is in the back seat, and make sure that the car seat faces the back of the car.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when installing a car seat.
- Never place a car seat in front of, or beside an airbag.
- Look for the Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (CMVSS) sticker that tells you the car seat meets Transport Canada’s safety standards.
- If the car seat is borrowed or bought second-hand, make sure that it is in good shape and has not been in a car crash.
- If you have any questions about car seats, call your local public health unit, the Ministry of Transportation or Safe Kids Canada.
Risk of burns
- Set the hot water heater temperature at 49oC so it isn’t too hot.
- Check that the bath water is not too hot before putting the baby in the tub.
- Always run the cold water first and last when filling the bath. This prevents hot water from dripping on the baby or the baby touching a hot faucet.
- Do not eat or drink anything hot while you are holding your baby. It could be knocked out of your hand and it could scald or burn the baby. Or use a cup with a lid that snaps on tight when you drink hot liquids like coffee or tea.
- Make sure formula and food for your baby are not too hot. Microwave ovens heat food and formula unevenly, leaving some parts very hot and others lukewarm – so if you use a microwave, stir or shake well and test the food before feeding your baby.
- Don’t leave a baby alone while eating. He or she could choke — even on formula.
Risk of poisoning
- Make sure that wherever your baby goes, there are no hazardous substances such as cleaning fluids or poisonous plants such as mistletoe, clematis or red philodendron — a baby will put everything within reach into his or her mouth.
- Remember that babies are sometimes not bothered by tastes that adults find bitter and unpleasant.
- If you are not sure about the safety of something your baby has put into his or her mouth – or even MAY have put into his or her mouth, call: The Ontario Regional Poison Information Centre, Hospital for Sick Children at 416-813-5900 or toll free 1-800-268-9017 or The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario at 613-737-1100 or toll free 1-800-267-1373
Risk of choking or suffocating
- Make sure the crib has a firm, snug-fitting mattress (to prevent suffocating), and check the crib hardware from time to time to make sure it is secure.
- Do not put stuffed animals, pillows, bumper pads or thick comforters in your baby’s bed. Babies have difficulty holding up their heads, but they can wiggle around, and there is a risk of suffocation. Bumper pads also prevent proper air circulation around your baby’s face.
- Make sure toys and baby equipment meet Canadian government safety standards, e.g., car seats, high chairs and strollers.
- Keep older children’s toys out of reach. Small parts can get caught in a baby’s throat.
- Check clothing for loose buttons that might come off and end up in the baby’s mouth.
- Check your baby’s pacifier regularly and throw it out if it is separating from the hard plastic, cracking or becoming sticky.
- Never tie a string or cord to the pacifier because it can get caught around the baby’s neck.
- Use a pacifier clip – the string on it is too short to be a problem.
Risk of drowning
- Stay within arm’s reach at all times when the baby is in the bath or near any water.
- Babies can drown in as little as two inches (five centimeters) of water, and they can’t call for help.
- Children under five should never be put in a “hot tub” — not even with an adult. Hot tubs are too hot for young children, may have high bacteria, and the drain in the tub can trap children.