Many common injuries in infants and toddlers occur simply because they are being kids. They are inquisitive and exploring their environments and all that is around them. It is the roll of the caregiver to be on constant alert to prevent these injuries.
The most common accidents that bring infants to the emergency room are falls. These falls are often related to an infant being placed on something such as a bed or a changing table. The story often starts with the caregiver explaining that they stepped away for just a moment and then heard a “thud” only to return to find the infant of the floor. To prevent this from occurring, infants no matter the age should never be left unattended unless they are within the safety of a bassinet or crib (with the side rails up) as even the smallest of infants can move enough to fall when not secured. Another common danger to infants is being placed in an infant carrier car seat and not being buckled. Carriers are often knocked over and if not secured properly the infant could fall out and be injured. Infant carrier should also never be placed in a restaurant high chair turned upside down. When dining out request a carrier sling.
The main job of a toddler is to explore and take in their environment. Unfortunately, while doing this often have no sense of danger. As summer approaches, two of the most common toddler injuries are falls from windows and drowning. As we open up our windows to let the fresh air in many people have a false sense of security thinking that as long as there is a screen in the window a child cannot fall. The truth is that screens are designed to keep insects and small animals out but, cannot hold the weight of a child pushing against it. To prevent falls from windows, caregivers should install window guards, open windows less than four inches with locks, and move all furniture away from windows.
A child should never be left alone near water. When enjoying a day at the beach or public pool each toddler should have a caregiver assigned to them to prevent him or her from wandering off and into the water. If you have a pool in you in your yard door locks can help prevent children from sneaking into the yard but, it is recommended that you install passive safety measures such as a pool or door alarms if a retractable safety cover is not an option.
Remember, kids will be kids and it is your job as a caregiver to be thinking of all the things that could go wrong on a daily basis. Let them explore and learn but, be there to prevent them from harming themselves. This will become second nature as you practice it each day. Most importantly, should an accident occur, don’t panic….Kids are resilient.
Ryan Gagnon, BSN, RN, CPEN, and parent of three.