When you have a toddler running around the house, there is potential for a multitude of accidents.
It can’t always be avoided—they’re curious little humans, keen to explore their surroundings. But you can take safety measures to prevent accidents or be prepared for when it does happen.
Some accidents are more common than you think. I’m going to give you pointers on what to look out for and how to be more cautious.
Why Do Toddlers Have Accidents?
Toddlers have a limited perception of their surroundings. They’re still too undeveloped and inexperienced to understand the consequences of entering a new situation. This unawareness means they’re more likely to find themselves in a potentially harmful spot.
Boys under the age of four years old have the most accidents. Children this young are oblivious to dangerous situations, and gender constructs result in boys running wild more often than girls.
Toddlers are more likely to get burned or poisoned than older kids. They’re not aware that a hot object would hurt them, and could mistake shampoo for a tasty drink. They’re also at a higher risk for fractures because they lack the mobility and spatial awareness their older counterparts have.
Common Toddler Accidents
There are potential hazards everywhere in your home. Most toddler accidents happen in the living room or dining area, but the more severe accidents happen on the stairs and in the kitchen.
Let’s have a look at what type of accidents are more common, and how you can childproof your home to prevent them:
Falls account for over 40 percent of toddler injuries. Once children become mobile, they quickly learn how to climb—it’s in their nature to explore. This makes it easy for them to fall off furniture, down the stairs, and in more severe cases, out of a window or off a balcony.
- Install a safety gate at the top and bottom of the stairs.
- Repair or remove a damaged carpet.
- Don’t leave potentially dangerous items on the floor.
- Board up wide railings at the top of stairs or balcony.
- Keep furniture or potential climbing objects away from windows and balconies.
- Install window restrictors so that they can’t be opened far enough for a small child to fit through.
- Keep balcony doors locked.
- Secure objects to the walls if they could be pulled over, like a TV or kitchen trash can.
- Get a bath mat so that they won't slip and fall in the tub.
Burns and Scalds
Children’s skin is more sensitive than ours—it can scald from hot water 15 minutes after it’s been boiled. Hot drinks make up the largest cause of burns and scalds to children under five. Hot bath water is accountable for most fatal and severe scalding injuries in young kids.
Toddlers are also at high risk for burns from irons, open fire, hair straighteners, cigarettes, and hot surfaces.
- Keep hot drinks out of children’s reach. Don’t put it on the edge of a surface, or on a tablecloth that they can pull off.
- Don’t hold a hot drink if they’re on your lap or nearby.
- Before bathing them, test the water with your elbow first to make sure that it’s not too hot. Teach them to test the water themselves as they get older.
- After using a heated appliance, turn it off immediately, and keep it out of reach, even when turned off.
- Keep lighters and matches out of reach.
- Use the backplates on the stove and turn panhandles away from the edge.
- Try to keep them out of the kitchen.
- Don’t let them go near a fire.
Choking and Suffocating
Small children investigate things by putting them into their mouths. It’s easy for them to swallow, inhale, or choke on small items like Legos, marbles, buttons, pen caps, dice, and nuts.
Toddlers can suffocate by pulling a nappy sack or plastic bag over their heads. They can also easily get their head caught up in a cord.
- Choose toys that don’t have small parts. Tell your older kids to keep their toys away from the younger ones.
- Don’t wear clothes with cords or straps around them—it can pull around their neck if they get caught.
- Keep curtain and blind cords short or out of reach.
- Don’t let a baby sleep on a bed or sofa—pillows and heavy duvets can suffocate them.
- Keep plastic bags, nappy sacks, and any type of bag that doesn’t have holes in it out of reach.
- Keep animals out of their room. Cats in particular can jump onto a bed or into a cot and lie on top of them. You can also keep a net over their cot or pram.
If your toddler ingests medicine, cleaning supplies, toiletries, batteries, or cosmetics, take them to the emergency room immediately.
They can also sustain skin or eye poisoning by simply being in contact with the wrong things, such as poisonous plants.
- Keep anything that could be poisonous out of reach and out of sight. This includes household cleaning supplies, gardening products, toiletries, cosmetics, and medicine. Put it in a locked cupboard or a high shelf.
- Don't put poisonous products in food containers or anything that could be mistaken for a tasty snack.
- Use child-resistant containers.
- Keep batteries and e-cigarette refills out of reach. Also keep any devices with batteries out of reach, such as remote controls.
- Don’t refer to medicine as “candy” or “yummy.”
- Don’t keep poisonous plants in the house or in the garden. Children love to pluck and pull at things. Plants that can irritate the skin include hydrangeas, lilies, and dill.
- Warn them against ingesting any type of plant, even if it’s not poisonous, it can still upset their stomach.
Glass can cause severe and even fatal cuts. A lot of children are hospitalized as a result of a glass injury.
If the edges of a cut are smooth and stay parallel with body movement, you can treat it at home. Deeper cuts need medical attention.
- Use safety (laminated) glass—it’s designed to absorb impact, while normal glass shatters. If you can afford it, replace the windows and sliding doors—or you could apply shatter-resistant film to any glass that’s on a low level.
- Don’t buy furniture that has glass in the design. If you already own furniture like this, apply shatter-resistant film.
- Get rid of any broken glass immediately. Make sure to wrap it in newspaper, put it in a bag, and dispose of it in the bin outside. Diligently sweep up or vacuum the area.
- Don’t let a toddler hold anything that’s made of glass, or anything sharp for that matter, like scissors. Have them use plastic cutlery and crockery.
Children can drown in less than 2 inches of water. They need to be under constant supervision when in or even near any water.
- Never leave a baby or toddler in the bath without supervision—not even for thirty seconds.
- Make sure you have all their bath toys, soaps, and sponges close by before they get in the tub, so you don’t have to leave to get it when they’re already in.
- Cover any container that contains liquid.
- Empty and store away paddling pools when you’re not using them.
- Get a solid cover for the swimming pool.
- If you have a garden pond, fill it in before your child is mobile, or fence it off.
- Never let them near an open pool or pond unsupervised, even if they can swim.
Be on the Safe Side
Once the little one arrives, your primary job as a parent will be to keep them safe and out of harm’s way.
Chances are that your toddler will get hurt at some point. But by applying these prevention methods in your home, even before they’re born, they can avoid serious injury.