This topic suggests ways to help prevent illness and injuries in babies and young children. It does not cover every risk that a child faces, but it does cover many of the most common hazards and situations that can be dangerous to a child in this age range.
Watching your child grow is a wonder. But there are concerns in this age range:
No one can watch a child's every move or make a home 100% safe all the time. Try to find a balance among supervising your child, taking safety precautions, and allowing your child to explore.
Car seats, cribs, strollers, playpens, and high chairs are all often used by infants and toddlers up to age 2. If any of this equipment is worn or broken, or if you use it incorrectly, it can be dangerous.
If you purchase or are given used equipment, make sure it meets current safety standards and has not had any safety recalls. You can check recall information from Health Canada's Product Safety Program (PSP) online at www.hc-sc.gc.ca/cps-spc/advisories-avis/index-eng.php.
Taking care of yourself is a vital part of keeping your child safe. Most injuries to children occur when parents or caregivers are tired, hungry, or emotionally drained or are having relationship problems. Other common causes of family stress include changes in daily routines, moving to a new house, or expecting another child.
Learn all you can about child growth and development. Doing so can help you learn what to expect and how to handle certain situations.
If you feel stressed, get help. Talk to your doctor or your child's doctor, or see a counsellor. Get together regularly with friends, or join a parenting group.
Call 911 right away if you feel you are about to hurt yourself or your child.
Frequently Asked Questions
Learning about health and safety issues:
Protection against harmful germs:
Identifying household hazards:
Identifying hazards outside the home:
The importance of parental self-care:
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The immune systems of babies and young children up to 24 months of age are still developing. This makes them especially prone to getting sick after being exposed to viruses and bacteria. Exposure to common pathogens can occur from person-to-person contact and from improperly prepared food. Good hygiene practices can help you protect your child from exposure to these germs.
You can help protect your child from getting sick by paying attention to safe food practices.
For more information, see the topic Food Poisoning and Safe Food Handling.
Germs spread easily from person to person. Cold and flu viruses usually affect the most people during the colder months, although they can develop at any time of the year. Babies and young children have a higher risk for secondary infections from these illnesses. Take extra care to help protect your child against infections.
Go to all well-child visits, during which the doctor gives your child a physical examination. The doctor will ask you about your child's development and whether you have any concerns.
Immunizations are also given at well-child visits. Immunizations provide important protection for your child against harmful diseases. The standard immunization schedule outlines the recommended vaccinations and the ages at which they should be given.
From birth to age 2, children depend on parents and other caregivers for their safety. Safety issues change and increase rapidly in number as newborns grow into toddlers. It is important to consider your child's physical and mental development when evaluating current and future hazards.
Although close supervision is important, it is not realistic to think that you can watch your child's every move. Also, constantly hovering over your child can limit his or her experiences and confidence. Balancing supervision with safety precautions will not only help prevent injuries but also allow your child to explore and discover.
Taking the time to research and adopt safe habits can help to prevent common injuries that can occur around the house.
In Canada, safety standards for children's equipment, furniture, clothing, and other items are set by Health Canada's Product Safety Program (PSP). Although most new items you purchase will likely meet these standards, older and used items may not. Equipment that has been used before, such as a baby carrier, may not be safe. These items may have wear and tear that affects how they function. The PSP may also have recalled some items because of reported hazards.
Check that all the products your baby uses meet current standards. The following list provides safety information for items frequently used by children up to age 2:
To help you keep track of important safety features, see the topic Nursery Equipment Safety Checklist.
For more information about equipment standards from the PSP, see the Other Places to Get Help section of this topic.
Sudden infant death syndrome is one of the most common causes of death for babies 1 month to 12 months old. Most babies who die of SIDS are 2 to 4 months old. Although SIDS cannot be predicted or completely prevented, placing your baby to sleep on his or her back can help prevent this tragedy. For more information, see the topic Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends that babies sleep in their own crib or bassinet for the first year of life. But if you choose to sleep together in the same bed, take precautions to make bed sharing safer. Do not ever share a bed with your baby if you smoke, have had alcohol, used medicine that makes you sleep soundly (sedatives), or used illegal drugs. Never sleep with a baby on a couch or armchair.
You can prevent falling injuries by using common sense and appropriate equipment that meets all safety standards. Recognize new hazards that your baby may bump into or stumble over as he or she learns to scoot, crawl, and walk. And don't allow your child to walk or run with objects in his or her mouth. Your unsteady toddler could get face and mouth injuries in addition to other injuries from falling.
Help prevent your child from choking by offering the right kinds of foods and keeping an eye out for choking hazards.
A young child can strangle from a variety of household items. Protect your child by minimizing these hazards:
Suffocation is another danger for young children. Teach your child about suffocation and the importance of a safe play area. Pay attention to possible suffocation dangers, such as:
To prevent poisoning, identify household cleaners and other chemicals, plants, medicines, makeup, perfumes, and any other products that can harm a child who eats or inhales them. It is critical to properly store these items out of reach of young children. If you have a possible poisoning emergency, call 911 or your provincial poison control centre immediately. For more information, see the topic Poisoning.
Lead poisoning is another cause for concern in young children who may chew on contaminated paint flakes, painted objects, or toys. House paint is no longer made with lead, but older homes may still have it on walls and other surfaces. For more information about lead, see the topic Lead Poisoning.
Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning by frequently monitoring levels and taking precautionary measures, such as having your home's heater checked each year. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colourless, odourless, and tasteless gas. It is produced from burning fuels such as natural gas, gasoline, fuel oil, or wood (for example, in indoor heating systems, car engines, cooking appliances, or fires). High CO levels quickly affect young children because of their small size. For more information, see the topic Carbon Monoxide Poisoning.
Prevent household fires by keeping and maintaining smoke detectors and planning and practicing escape routes.
Burns are caused by heat, electricity, chemicals, radiation, or friction. Protect your child from burn injuries by identifying dangers in your home and taking measures to remove or block your child's access to them.
Gun and firearm safety measures should be established for all households and especially those where children live or visit. All guns and firearms should be kept in a locked area, unloaded, and out of reach of children. Also store knives (even kitchen knives), swords, and other weapons safely out of reach.
Pets are found in many households. Children who live in homes without pets are likely to encounter animals in other environments. Many injuries can be avoided by teaching children how to properly interact with pets. And pet owners who train and keep their animals healthy are less likely to have problems when children are around.
Drowning is the second most common cause of unintentional death from injury among young children in Canada.3 Never leave your child alone near water, and always follow these water safety recommendations:
In addition to these precautions, learn first aid and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). It can make the difference between life and death.
You cannot protect your child from every danger he or she can possibly encounter outside the home. But you can take reasonable precautions and teach your child basic safety rules. This general training can help prepare your child for many situations he or she may face.
Prevent injuries by using safe equipment, teaching safety awareness, and closely supervising your child.
Before your child visits an unfamiliar home, ask the homeowner whether you need to be aware of any dangerous areas, pets, or other safety issues. It is always a good idea to see the household for yourself. Don't be afraid to voice any concerns you have about safety. You are ultimately responsible for protecting your child.
Before enrolling your child in daycare, evaluate the environment and talk with care providers. Ask questions about their safety guidelines. Identify any hazards, and ask how they are handled. Inspect the food preparation area, and ask how often it is cleaned and what kinds of cleaning products are used. For more information, see the topic Choosing Child Care.
When you include your child in your activities, be sure to recognize the related safety issues. And focus on your child's comfort and safety.
Many parents wonder whether they are equipped to handle the responsibility of keeping their child safe. You will likely feel more confident if you are alert, take all the precautions you can, and know how to respond to emergencies.
For more information, see the topic Stress Management.
All parents have times when they feel exhausted, frustrated, angry, sad, or overwhelmed. Recognize that this is a normal part of being human and being a parent. But if these feelings become too much for you to handle alone, keep your child safe by getting help. For example, when your emotions are too much for you to handle alone, you may not have the energy or desire to watch your child as closely as you should. Some parents injure their children when their emotions cause them to shake, hit, or push a child. This can result in injury to the child such as shaken baby syndrome, which can cause lasting brain damage or even death.
Call 911 immediately if you feel you are about to injure yourself or your child.
Places to go for help include:
For more information on physical harm to children, see the topics Shaken Baby Syndrome and Child Abuse and Neglect. For more information on handling difficult emotions, see the topics Depression, Anxiety, and Anger, Hostility, and Violent Behaviour.
|Canadian Coalition for Immunization Awareness and Promotion|
|c/o Canadian Public Health Association|
|300 - 1565 Carling Avenue|
|Ottawa, ON K1Z 8R1|
|Phone:||(613) 725-3769 ext. 122|
The Canadian Coalition for Immunization Awareness and Promotion (CCIAP) is a coalition of national organizations committed to promotion and education on immunization. Its website includes information on immunizations, diseases, and vaccines for adults and children.
|Canadian Paediatric Society|
|2305 Saint Laurent Boulevard|
|Ottawa, ON K1G 4J8|
The Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) promotes quality health care for Canadian children and establishes guidelines for paediatric care. The organization offers educational materials on a variety of topics, including information on immunizations, pregnancy, safety issues, and teen health.
|Health Canada: Consumer Product Safety|
This website provides updated information on product safety and potential hazards. It also provides links to specific information such as product recalls and child safety issues.
|National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome|
|1433 North 1075 West|
|Farmington, UT 84025|
Sometimes babies cry at more times than at others. This website from the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome (U.S.) offers information to help parents and caregivers understand normal crying behaviour and offers soothing options.
|Safe Kids Canada 36 Eglinton Avenue West, Suite 704Toronto, ON M4R 1A1|
Safe Kids Canada is a national injury prevention program provided by the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. The website provides information on keeping children safe and preventing injuries.
- Health Canada, Consumer Product Safety (2010). Cribs and cradles. Available online: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/cps-spc/child-enfant/equip/_crib-berc/crib-berc-eng.php.
- National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (2010). Fireworks-related injuries. Available online: http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/fireworks/index.html.
- Canadian Paediatric Society (2004). Swimming lessons for infants and toddlers. Paediatrics and Child Health, 8(2): 113–114. Available online: http://www.cps.ca/english/statements/IP/IP03-01.htm.
- American Academy of Pediatrics (2009). Keeping your child safe. In SP Shevlov et al., eds., Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5, 5th ed., pp. 457–506. New York: Bantam.
Other Works Consulted
- American Academy of Pediatrics (2001, reaffirmed 2010). Falls from heights: Windows, roofs, and balconies. Pediatrics, 107(5): 1188–1191.
- American Academy of Pediatrics (accessed November 2008). Pool safety for children. The Injury Prevention Program (TIPP). Available online: http://www.aap.org/family/tipppool.htm.
- Government of Canada (2010). Cribs and cradles. Available online: http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/kids/cribs-and-cradles.
- Government of Canada (2010). Playpens. Available online: http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/kids/playpens.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics|
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Thomas Emmett Francoeur, MD, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics|
|Last Revised||November 14, 2012|
Previous Section:Topic Overview
Next Section:Healthy Habits for Preventing Infection and Illness
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Next Section:Safety Measures Outside the Home
Last Revised: November 14, 2012
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