Toddlers and young children like to explore, climb, walk, run, and dance. These activities put them at risk of falling or getting injuries.
Each new learning stage for your baby requires increased attention on your part to prevent injuries. It may surprise you how fast your baby can move from one stage to the next.
Being aware of your baby’s abilities and what skills he or she is likely to develop next will help you prevent injuries. Most of the fall injuries presented to the Paediatric Emergency Department are falls from a height - single or decker beds, stairs, balconies or even tables, especially while trying to play ‘Superman’.
They suffer mild to severe injuries ranging from bruises to head injuries. The severity of falls depends on the distance from take-off to landing and the type of surface that greet their bodies.
If the height is lower, the fewer the injuries, and if the landing place is hard, the more serious the injuries, not to mention the likelihood of falling on lying objects.
Every parent knows how hard it is to protect a child from injuries related to falling. When a baby learns to walk, preventing falls requires constant supervision.
Later, a toddler might tumble while trying to get to the cookie jar - and an older child might slip while rocketing up hardwood stairs in socks. Still, there’s plenty you can do on fall safety and minimise injuries when falls happen.
Try and stay calm, then call any emergency numbers you may have so that help is availed as fast as possible. Meanwhile, observe the child for any signs of altered levels of consciousness that may include difficulty in waking up or other signs such as vomiting.
Check for any obvious bleeding and apply pressure on the bleeding site with a piece of cloth if any. Stay with the child until help comes. Should they begin to vomit or convulse, lay them on their left side to prevent them from choking or aspirating food contents.
If you don’t see any obvious injuries and choose to observe your child at home, be sure to keep an eye for excessive crying or irritability.
If these are present, take them to the hospital immediately. Keep all children within your eye reach as it only takes a blink for them to move to a place you never anticipated. Do not leave toddlers on adult beds unattended.
If they are on their beds or cots, keep the side rails up to prevent unexpected falls. Avoid putting children on the kitchen tables as you prepare meals, and do dishes.
Most of the time, little distractions that take your mind away from the child could be all that leads to the accidental fall.
Keep all floors dry, minimising loose rags and anything else that may be in their way as they walk around the house as this is likely to cause them to trip. Children should not be left unattended on the balconies. Hanging over the balconies to view downstairs should be highly discouraged.
Children who have fallen from higher heights should not be moved to avoid more injuries to the spine unless one knows how to. Bumps on the head can be soothed with an ice pack placed just above it.
Falls from heights can have very fatal outcomes, from permanent brain damage to death.
They are also a preventable cause of death and disability and more measures should be placed in every environment that involves children.
Schools, homes, parks and even children’s hospitals and homes should strive to keep children away from risk as possible. Accidents are never planned and can happen in the presence of a parent or caregiver. Be calm with the caregiver who most of the time is scared, in shock and confused.
The writer is a Paediatric Nurse at M.P. Shah Hospital. @MPShahhospital