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Child Safety

Keeping your baby safe from falls

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Falls can lead to serious injuries. In Alberta, falls are the leading cause of emergency room and urgent-care visits for children. For example:

  • Amal, 3 months, fell off a counter while sitting in a bouncy chair. He got a con​cussion and had to go to the hospital.
  • Isabel, 2 months, fell from a change table and broke her leg when her father turned away for 1 second to get a diaper.
  • Lee, age 6 months, broke his leg after falling out of a shopping cart. He had to go to the hospital.
  • Maeve, age 7 months, fell backwards off a couch, onto a carpeted floor. She went to the hospital with a concussion.
  • Katie, age 11 months, fell down so​me stairs. She went to the hospital for her injuries,​ including a broken arm and a serious brain injury.

Your baby’s development and falls

Babies do a lot of kicking and wiggling. This makes it easier for them to fall from furniture and other surfaces. And it can happen very fast—even when you’re in the same room.

Babies have large heads compared to their bodies—during a fall, a baby's head will often hit the ground first and take the impact.

Keeping your baby safe and preventing injuries takes action. Do what you know is safe every time.

How to protect your baby from falls

Remember that you can prevent most falls by always doing 2 important things:

  • purposefully watch over your baby (active supervision)
  • make your baby’s environment safe

Here are tips to help protect your baby from falls.

Furniture

  • Always stay with your baby when they are on a high place, such as a changing table.
  • Change diapers on the floor. If you need to put your baby on a high surface (like a changing table), keep one hand on them the whole time, even when you're using safety straps.
  • If you need to leave for a moment when your baby is on a high surface, move them to a safe place, such as a crib or playpen.
  • Lock crib rails in the highest position.
  • Move the crib mattress to the lowest point as soon as your baby can sit up.
  • Move your child to a toddler bed when they show signs of being able to climb out of their crib.
  • Put car seats, baby chairs, and bassinets on the floor and never on a counter, bed or sofa. Your baby could wiggle to the edge and fall, even when strapped in.
  • Attach loose furniture (such as dressers, bookshelves, and TVs) to the wall.
  • Don’t place anything on top of furniture that’s easy for your baby to grab.
  • Place all furniture away from windows and balcony door handles.

Stairs

  • Install a wall-mounted stair gate—a gate that you can attach (mount) to a wall or banister—at the top of each stairwell. Do this before your baby starts to move around and tries to crawl.
  • Don't use pressure gates (gates that stay in place using pressure) at the top of stairs. Your baby's weight could cause the gate to fall over when they lean on it. Also, put a gate at the bottom of stairs as your baby grows and starts to climb. You can use pressure gates at the bottom of stairs.

Safety straps

  • Safety straps help prevent your baby from falling.
  • Always use the safety straps on shopping carts and on your stroller, high chair, changing table, car seat, baby seat, and baby swing.
  • Straps that go around your baby’s waist and through their legs are the safest type. Babies can slide through waist-only straps.
  • Using safety straps doesn’t mean you don’t have to watch over your baby. Always stay close to your baby, even when they’re strapped in.

Adapted from the Babies Don’t Bounce series, an Alberta Health Services Provincial Injury Prevention resource.​

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Current as of: October 4, 2021

Author: Injury Prevention Program, Alberta Health Services