Find tips to prevent the most common causes of injuries.
Babies and toddlers are naturally curious and want to explore. Once they start to move, babies can find themselves in unsafe situations.
The best way to prevent injuries is to watch your child at all times so you can see what they’re doing. You can also create a safer environment by baby-proofing your home and using safety equipment.
Child car seats are required by law and must meet Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Car seats made in other countries are not legal for use in Canada.
Until one year of age your child must use a rear-facing child car seat when travelling in a car. Between one to four years old, you have a few more options depending on your child’s weight and age.
Make sure you check the expiry date as the plastic can become weak over time. Do not use a car seat that has expired or been in a car accident.
Bicycles and helmets
Always make sure your toddler is wearing a bike helmet when riding a mobile toy, tricycle or bicycle. Children will fall often as they learn to ride. Protect your child and prevent serious head injuries.
Children under the age of 12 months should not ride with you on a bicycle – in a bicycle-mounted trailer or child seat. Their back and neck muscles are not strong enough to support the jostling of bike riding. Find more tips on bicycle safety.
Falls are the most common injury among young children – most frequently from furniture (beds and chairs), playgrounds and stairs. Injuries are the leading cause of death for children aged one to 11 in Canada. Be aware of your home surroundings that may put your child at risk of a fall.
- Consider safety measures before you buy your baby equipment: walkers, playpens, jumpers.
- As your baby begins to crawl and move, find safety tips for high chairs and booster chairs.
- Baby-proof your home before your child can crawl:
- Install baby gates at the top and bottom of stairs
- Move furniture out of the way and cushion sharp corners
- During the warm weather, follow these safety tips to prevent falls from windows and balconies.
Children love to put everything in their mouths as they explore the world around them. Although this is normal development, it can put them at risk of choking.
Many of the items in your home can be poisonous to children - household cleaners, medicines, cosmetics, garden products, and houseplants. Find ways to make your home a poison-free zone.
Post the local poison control number by your phone or fridge. If you have a poisoning emergency call:
- 1-800-567-8911 Toll free anywhere in B.C.
- 604-682-5050 in Greater Vancouver.
Children will play with anything they can reach. The skin of young children is very sensitive to heat and will burn quickly.
- Keep matches and lighters out of young children’s sight and reach.
- Use appliances with short cords that do not hand near the edge of the counter.
- When cooking, use the rings at the back of the cooker and turn saucepan handles towards the back.
- It’s best to keep your child out of the kitchen. Consider using a safety gate across the doorway.
- Never drink hot liquids while holding your child.
- When you’ve finished using your iron or hair straighteners, put them out of reach while they cool down.
- Watch out for gas fireplaces, when on or even turned off as the glass can easily burn a child’s hand.
View the Too Hot for Tots video for common burn hazards at home, prevention tips and emergency first aid if a burn should happen.
Whether your child is playing in the bath, at the beach or in the backyard, always keep him within arm’s reach around any water. It only takes seconds for a young child to slip under the water. Drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death among children aged zero to four. Find water safety tips for toddlers.
Harmful effects from second hand smoke are worse in children as they have smaller lungs and breathe more quickly. Babies and children exposed to second hand smoke have a higher risk of:
- Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
- Ear infections
- Lung infections (like bronchitis and pneumonia)
- Asthma and allergy attacks
- Chance of learning and behaviour difficulties later in life
Can smoking affect breast milk?
Cigarette smoking is not recommended if you are breastfeeding. Nicotine and other harmful ingredients in cigarettes pass through your breast milk and can affect your baby. Smoking can also reduce the amount of breast milk you produce.
Even if you choose to continue smoking, it is still better to breastfeed than not. If you are unable to quit, cut back on how much you smoke, smoke only after you have breastfed, only smoke outside away from your baby, and never smoke in a car.
Need help quitting?
Now is the time to make a change in your health that will not only improve your health but also provide a healthy start for your baby. Encourage those around you to quit as well.
Talk with your health care provider or check out quitnow.ca for support on your road to becoming tobacco free.
Visit Pregnets, a tobacco cessation support for pregnant and postpartum women.