Just as you get used to your tiny baby, have pretty much sorted out the whole sleeping, feeding thing – or at least learnt a new rhythm – it all changes! Your baby starts moving around, and your world turns upside down all over again. At Christmas time this can be scary stuff. Christmas is a busy time with a flurry of activity, excited children, presents to wrap and guests to welcome. It’s so easy to forget safety in all that excitement, yet so important if festivities aren’t to be cut short by a trip to casualty.
Over half our under 5’s are taken to A & E every year and accidents remain the biggest cause of child deaths. Wrapping them up in cotton wool is simply not an option, but where to start? Now everywhere you look there is an accident waiting to happen….
You simply have to prioritise, and the Child Accident Prevention Trust have worked out the 5 most common causes of accidents for the under 5’s. Concentrating on these seems a sensible approach, starting at home where 72% of the accidents happen.
1. Choking, suffocation and strangulation. Top of the list and why you need to keep close – choking happens quickly and you need to react fast. A good tidy up of your home is a good start, but do you know the size of a choking hazard? Most assume it’s the size of a grape, in fact it can be far larger. A Fred Choke Tester will help you understand what to look out for – coins behind sofa cushions, pen tops or batteries that rolled under the furniture etc. Christmas, inevitably brings lots of gifts and therefore new items into your home- reassess what could pose as a risk after all the unwrapping has finished.
Food is a challenge too. As you wean your baby, chop it up small. Suss out your Christmas dinner- food items such as sausages can be a real hazard due to the dense and spongy nature, make sure your pigs in blankets are chopped into small pieces on your little one’s plate.
Do you have blinds? Cords are the most common cause of strangulation in our homes – keep them up out of the way. This same rule also applies to Christmas tree lights- ensure any loose cords are tidied away out of reach of little ones and be vigilant when putting up and taking down the tree.
Suffocation most commonly occurs from plastic bags particularly nappy sacks, and in bed. Ensure you remove all plastic packaging from unwrapped presents, from your baby’s reach immediately. Keeping cots free of toys and comforters and using appropriate bedding that your child can’t slip under is the key. A Love to Dream Swaddle Up is a snug fit that allows a baby to self soothe yet enjoy the comfort of swaddling, sleep bags provide warmth for older babies.
2. Falls. Stairs cause most hospital admissions, so you’ll need well fitted safety gates. Just be careful to keep pressure fitted ones tight to the wall, and never use them at the top of stairs – you don’t want to trip over the pressure bar and fall down the stairs yourself -so use a screw-fit gate here instead.
Babies are talented explorers and climbers. A close watch is the best solution and re-arranging the furniture so something low doesn’t become a step to something higher is worthwhile. Moving furniture away from windows is essential – even if there is a window lock, the glass could break and your child fall through.
Finally, every parents’ nightmare – dropping your baby. Try to have both hands free when carrying your baby. Not possible? Try a carrier that is quick and easy to fit like the Izmi one – then do the chores with your baby safely stowed.
3. Poisoning. Over 100 toddlers are hospitalised every week. Medicines and household chemicals are the chief offenders – keep them locked up. All too often cupboard locks are difficult to fit, awkward to use and unreliable, so choose a good quality brand like Fred where you can fit them properly in seconds. With lots more people in your home during the festive season, give family members the heads up about baby safety in your home such as re-fastening cupboard locks, locking the stair gate on their way out.
4. Burns and scalds. Commonly from hot drinks, and easily avoided by not carrying your baby at the same time as a drink and keeping the cup out of reach. Stoves are an obvious risk, so use the back burners and pan handles angled away. Consider installing a Stove Guard to block access. With Christmas dinner cooking, the kitchen can become a hot and busy area- be extra cautious of little ones beneath your feet. Accidents from appliances, particularly hair straighteners, have doubled in recent years, so use well fitted Socket Covers and hide the appliance when not in use. Bath water, hot pipes and radiators all need to have their temperature checked before a child comes into contact.
5. Drowning. 5 children die every year in the bath. Scarily, it happens silently with no struggle – so there’s no warning and it happens in as little as 5cm of water. Staying with them is the only solution, try using a Bath Support if holding them over the bath hurts your back.
Still terrified? Thanks to the love and continuous care instinctively given by parents, backed up by a good dose of common sense, most children grow to adulthood without serious incident. Luck comes into play, but good parental supervision and some basic precautions are the real key to your peace of mind.
Have a safe and very merry Christmas!