Child Safety - Birth to Five years
Read more on Growing Safely
Read more on Accident Alert - how to protect your growing baby
- Children under the age of five years are most vulnerable to injuries. Therefore the responsibility of creating a safe environment for a small child lies with parents and caregivers.
- Be aware of your child’s different developmental stages. At certain stages children are prone to certain injuries.
- Make sure that you know what to do in case of an emergency.
At this age the baby needs full time care from an adult. The Baby’s ability to roll, move and grasp objects increases rapidly. . Most injuries in this age group can be prevented. Often accidents happen because parents are not aware of what their baby can do.
- Babies wriggle and move and also push against things with their feet.
- As a baby starts rolling he/she will be able to fall off everything unless protected.
- Do not leave a baby alone on changing tables, beds, sofas or chairs.
- Keep cot sides up at all times.
- Place baby in a safe place when you cannot hold him for example, cot, playpen, on the floor on a cushion etc.
- Babies usually start crawling at six months. Always use safety gates on stairways.
- Try and avoid using a baby walker. They enable babies to move quickly and expose them to dangers that they may be to young too recognize. If using a walker, then constant parental supervision is essential.
- Children should be buckled up from his /her first ride in an approved child car seat.
- Never travel with a baby on your lap or lying loose on the seat – this is very dangerous, and is a great threat to your babies life and health.
- Follow manufacturer's instructions when installing your baby’s car seat.
- Never carry your baby and hot liquid or food at the same time.
- Always put the cold water in the bath first and check the temperature to prevent scald injuries.
- Never leave a small baby alone in the bath.
- A small child can drown in ± 5 cm of water within 30 seconds.
CHOKING AND SUFFOCATION
- Never leave small objects within your baby’s reach.
- Remove bibs before baby sleeps.
- Avoid ribbons and cords on sleepwear
- Do not use a dummy chain or string around the babies neck when he/she is sleeping
- Cot bars should be spaced in such a way so that baby cannot get his /her head through.
- Do not use pillows in the cot, they are unnecessary.
- Always make sure of the correct dosage of medication and read labels .
During this stage a baby will become more mobile. He/she will crawl and pull on furniture and objects to stand and take his/her first steps. Everything within reach will also go into the baby’s mouth.
- Use safety gates on stairways (top and bottom).
- Install window guards on all windows.
- Always use a harness on highchairs, shopping trolleys and prams.
- Make sure that all furniture is stable. Try and purchase safe nursery furniture with a safety mark of approval.
- At 6 - 12 months babies grab everything. Always keep hot foods and hot liquids out of baby reach.
- Run cold water onto the bath before the hot.
- Use placemats instead of tablecloths to prevent baby from pulling hot substances down.
- Always use guards in front of open fires and heaters.
- Use safety plugs in wall sockets
- At this age children love to play in water.
- Always empty the bath after use as well as containers filled with water after use.
- Make sure the nappy bucket has a lid or keep behind a closed door.
- Make use of non-slip mats in the bath.
- Never leave a baby alone in the water and always supervise near water.
- Baby will put every thing into his/her mouth.
- Keep all dangerous substances such as medication and household cleaners out of reach.
- Use safety latches on cupboard doors, which contains poisonous substances.
- Try and use products with child resistant closures. If available.
CHOKING & SUFFOCATION
- Do not give baby food that he or she cannot chew. Do not feed the baby hard or big pieces of food.
- Keep all small objects such as buttons, beads, coins etc. out of reach.
- Always buckle your baby up in a car seat even for short trips.
- Make sure that baby cannot wonder into the road, keep gates closed.
At this age children can usually walk, run, climb, jump, and they explore everything. Toddlers are very active and love imitating others. Children at this age are curious and cannot learn from their mistakes.
- Use guards on windows and balconies.
- Use safety rails on beds to prevent falls.
- They love climbing but needs to be supervised when doing so as they still lack co-ordination.
- Most burns to young children occur in the kitchen.
- Always keep pot handles turned to the centre of the stove.
- Keep matches out of reach.
- Keep children away from hot objects such as irons, the oven door, heaters etc. or place safety barriers around them.
- Kettle cords should be kept short and out of reach.
- Place child in a safe area such as a playpen when cooking.
- Never leave child alone in the bath, near water such as a swimming pool or any other form of water.
- Start teaching children to swim as soon as possible.
- Farm dams and ponds are also a hazard and children should be supervised near these.
- Keep all poisonous substances out of reach and locked away.
- A high area is not always safe enough as small children can climb to reach.
- Never tell small children that medication is sweets.
CHOKING & SUFFOCATION
- Keep small objects out of reach.
- Do not purchase toys with small parts. Read age specification on toy packaging if available.
- Children should never play with plastic bags.
- Children under five should not be given peanuts or hard sweets to eat.
- Keep gates locked to prevent child from having access to the road.
- Always buckle up.
- Be careful in driveways, as small children are not always visible.
- Never leave young children alone in the car.
Start teaching children safety rules from an early age, but remember they do not always remember, and therefore still need constant supervision. They usually forget safety rules when playing or when excited. They are now very quick, unpredictable and impulsive.
- Keep matches, candles, and lighters out of reach.
- Keep hot substances out of reach and make sure children cannot reach the stove, or and other hot objects.
- Teach children how to swim
- Swimming pools should be fenced or have a safety net. Without these a pool will never be safe.
- Use swimming aids as an extra precaution but children should still be supervised near water even if they can swim.
- Children in this age group are especially prone to drink or eat poisonous substances such as medication, household cleaners or fuels.
- Always store these in a lockable cupboard and make use of child resistant closures.
- Children should never be allowed to take their own medication.
- Always read dosage instructions.
- Begin teaching children about the rules of the road.
- Children of this age should not have access to the road without supervision.
- Always buckle up.
- Children should play in safe, fenced areas
- At this age group children usually knows what is dangerous but do not always remember. They still need supervision.
- Allow children to climb, as this is important for co-ordination and development. Never allow rough and unsafe behaviour on play equipment and teach children how to use these correctly.
- Keep dangerous tools and equipment out if reach.
- Teach children not to play with matches.
- Extinguish outside fires with water and not sand. This will prevent children from burning their feet on hot coals.
- Keep flammable substances out of reach.
- Even if children knows how to swim. Never let them swim alone.
- Use lifejackets when on boats.
- Teach children water survival skill e.g. What to do when in trouble.
- Teach children not to eat berries or plants from any garden.
- Teach them the dangers of hazardous substances.
- Always set a good example to children, i.e. crossing the road and wearing of safety belts
- Continue teaching the dangers and safe use of the road.
- Always buckle children up in motor vehicle.
- If a child has a serious fall call your doctor or go to an emergency unit.
- Place burnt area under cold running water for at least 15 minutes.
- Cover burnt area with a clean non-sticky cloth or dressing.
- Do not break any blisters.
- Do not apply any medication or substance to the burnt area.
- If clothing sticks to the burnt area rather leave and place cold water over area.
- Seek medical assistance if a serious burn.
- Position infant face down on arm supporting head. Give ± 5 firm back slaps between shoulder blades to try and expel the object.
- With older children ask the child to cough. Use Heimlich Maneuver (abdominal thrusts) for older child to expel object.
- Learn how to do child CPR.
- Contact your nearest poisons centre or doctor if you suspect that your child has taken a hazardous/ poisonous substance. Poison ingestions are treated differently according to the substance taken.
- Take the container or medication from which the child has taken the poison with to your emergency service/doctor.
POISON INFORMATION CENTRES
Red Cross Children’s Hospital Poison Centre (021) 658 5428
Tygerberg Hospital (021) 931 6129
- Do Child CPR if the child is not breathing or has no heartbeat.
- Always take a child for medical observation after a near drowning incident.
Be prepared. Keep emergency numbers by your telephone
Remember prevention is better and cheaper than cure.