In Australia, the most common causes of child injuries are falls, road accidents, drowning, poisonings, and burns and scalds. Of course we can’t (and nor should we) protect our little ones from all of life’s normal bumps, bruises, scrapes, and falls that come with being a healthy, active, curious child.
With some practical steps, planning, active supervision, and first-aid training, most of the more serious injuries can be prevented.
Here is your basic baby safety checklist which every new parent must know:
Burns and scald prevention
- Keep your baby away from hot surfaces (for example, oven, stove, heaters).
- Hot food and drink must be kept away from and out of reach of children.
- Always test bath water temperature before bathing your baby (the safest temperature is 37-38 degrees).
- Use power point covers.
- Get a licensed electrician to do any repairs and to instal safety switches that cut power off quickly.
- Replace worn appliances and cords.
- Watch your baby’s movements in the home, and adjust your home accordingly. Safety gates to block stairs and balconies, for example.
- Don’t leave a baby unattended on raised surfaces, such as change tables, couches, or beds. Baby changing tables should have safety straps and/or railings to prevent the baby from falling off.
- Look for safe baby furniture and equipment with the Australian Standards mark.
- Anchor furniture to the wall or floor to prevent tipping.
- Brace or strap TVs to the wall or entertainment unit.
- Remove furniture with sharp corners, or pad the corners with foam or corner protectors.
- Lock away any tools, and keep lawnmowers out of reach.
- Make sure your baby isn’t present when you use tools.
- Unplug tools when not in use.
- Ensure that all smoke alarms work, and that there is one outside or even inside the sleeping areas of the home. Test your smoke alarms each month.
- Open fire places should have a secured grate surrounding it that cannot be pulled upon
- Children are often poisoned by common household chemicals and medicine, so store them up high in a locked cabinet.
- Use child-safety locks on cupboards that store cleaning products.
- Never tie a dummy or any other objects on a string around a baby’s neck. Check dummies and teats frequently to ensure the nipple-part can’t be sucked off and swallowed. The guard or shield around the nipple of the dummy should be larger than the baby’s mouth and should have ventilation holes so the baby could breathe if it did get in there.
- Keep any toys on strings, curtain and blind cords, laundry bags or other objects with strings away from baby’s reach or cot and away from newborns to prevent strangulation. This includes no mobiles in cots.
- Remove unnecessary objects from the cot, bassinet or playpen when the baby sleeps to prevent suffocation. That means no cot bumpers, pillows, stuffed animals, or comforters.
- All infant sleep, day and night, must be supervised for at least the first 12 months.
- Mattresses should fit tightly up against the sides and there should be no gaps in cots or bassinets.
- Tie knots in plastic bags, and keep them out of reach of children.
- Never leave a child unsupervised around water, including a bucket of water.
- If you have a pool, by law you must have a pool fence and gate that meets Australian Standard AS:1926.
- Never leave a baby alone in a bath or without your full attention, and never leave older siblings to supervise.
- Do not put the baby to bed with a bottle. Babies can choke or acquire ear infections, tooth decay and other dental troubles from having something in their mouths overnight.
- Keep small toys away from small babies. Toys go automatically into mouths and choking can, and does, result. Be especially careful of older toys with parts that can be pulled off, like teddy bear eyes, or parts that can break into small pieces.
- Do not use baby powder or talcum on a newborn because it can be inhaled into the baby’s lungs.
- Always ensure that your baby is sitting upright when eating, and never leave them unsupervised. Don’t offer foods that pose obvious choking risks. Find out more here.
- Ensure your pram or stroller has a 5 point harness. Strollers should have a wide base to prevent tipping and brakes that work.
- Never cover a pram with a blanket or wrap because it reduces air circulation. Read more here.
- Never, not even once, take your baby in the car without him or her being strapped in the car seat, and the car seat properly belted in the car according to the manufacturer’s directions. And never use a carrier device or sling-type seat as a car seat. A low impact crash may not hurt an adult, but can prove fatal to an unsecured newborn.
- Rear-facing restraints are recommended as the safest option for children up to four years of age. Read more about it here.