Falls: Birth to 11 months

How big a problem is it?

Your baby will be naturally inquisitive as he or she develops and minor slips and falls are a normal part of this stage of development. The risk in this age group depends on the main cause and location. At this earliest stage being dropped when carried, falling/rolling off a bed and other falls from heights such as stairs are the risks. 

While some falls may not be serious, a surprising number are. The results are broken bones, cuts or head injuries. Falls-related injuries are the number one cause of hospitalisation for babies and young children.


Who does it affect?

Babies being dropped when carried is the leading cause of fall-related injuries for under one year olds, with almost one baby is admitted to hospital per week. Most young children who are starting to become mobile in the months around one year of age are especially at risk because they're inquisitive and just beginning to get mobile.


Top Tips

The severity of a fall injury depends on the height from which your child falls, if they hit anything on the way and what they land on.

 

At home

  • Avoid carrying babies when performing multiple tasks, or when feeling tired. 

  • Use approved safety gates at the tops and bottoms of stairs and attach them to the wall, if possible.

  • Properly install window guards and stops to prevent window falls. Windows above the first floor should have an emergency release device in case of fire.

  • We advise that babies can do without baby walkers. They do not have safety features, so they can easily roll down the stairs. A stationery play station is a much safer option. Baby walkers also make it easier for babies to reach higher objects that may be unsafe. We think babies are better off without them. If you need to move away from your baby while they are on a changing table, bed or chair, pick them up and take them with you. They can roll off in a second once your back is turned. Before you change your baby, make sure you have everything you need close by and if possible change them on the floor. 

  • Keep babies strapped in when using high chairs, infant carriers, shopping trolleys, swings and strollers. And remember, if your baby is in a carrier, place it on the floor, rather than on a table or other furniture.

In the kitchen 

  • Before you start to cook make sure you put your baby somewhere safe such as in a playpen or highchair.

At play

  • Choose a time to go to the park when you are not likely to be distracted by other commitments. That way you can supervise your little one on the play equipment at all times. 

  • Find playgrounds with shock-absorbing surfaces, such as wood chips, mulch, rubber or sand.

  • High porches, decks, stairs and balconies have a high fall risk, so try and find alternative play areas for your baby. If that’s not possible, make sure you keep an eye on them at all times.


First Aid

If your child has had a serious fall they may have a bone fracture or a serious head injury. If they are in pain, or for any of the following reasons, call 111 immediately. Do this if your child:

  • is, or has been, unconscious (can’t be woken up) 

  • is being sick or seems sleepy 

  • has trouble breathing

  • bleeding and you can’t stop the bleeding

  • there is bleeding from an ear.

There are also some things you can do straight away: 

Fractures First Aid

Keep the injured arm or leg still. Someone who knows how to might use a splint to keep it still. You can support the injured arm or leg with a pillow or sling. Raise the arm or leg higher than the heart to help reduce swelling. Your child will need pain relief. If your child does not need an ambulance take them to the nearest hospital Emergency Department 

First aid for loss of consciousness follow Drs ABCD to start CPR

D Dangers? Check for any dangers to yourself such as electricity or traffic.

R Responsive? Check responsiveness by calling loudly and shaking the child's arm.

S Send for help. Dial 111 and confirm an ambulance is on its way. (Use the appropriate emergency number in other countries.)

A Airway. Open the airway by moving the head into a neutral position and lifting the chin. Do not tilt the head back too far. 

B Breathing. Look and feel for movement of the lower chest and stomach area. Listen and feel for air coming from the nose or mouth. 

C CPR. If the child is not breathing, start CPR - 30 compressions to 2 breaths. Put the child on a firm surface. Place 2 fingers of one hand (for a baby) or the heel of one hand (for a child) in the centre of the chest just below the nipples. Push down hard and fast 30 times in about 15 seconds (push down one-third of chest depth). Once you have completed 30 compressions (pushes) on the chest, breathe into the baby's mouth 2 times. Seal your lips around the baby's mouth and nose. For a child over 1, you may need to breathe into their mouth and pinch their nose closed. Gently puff into the child until you see their chest rise. Continue with the cycle of 30 chest compressions and 2 breaths until the ambulance arrives.

D Defibrillator. Attach defibrillator as soon as it is available and follow prompts.

This page includes a link to the KidsHealth website CPR advice and a page containing the Basic Life Support Flow Chart. The Basic Life Support Flow Chart is developed by the New Zealand Resuscitation Council and Australian Resuscitation Council. For more information see www.nrc.org.nz


Link to Safekids’ resources

Falls Injury Prevention Resources

Links for more information

Safekids International TV