From the time your child is born, he will grow and develop quickly.  Your baby will learn to roll, crawl, walk and climb. Each new ability helps your child learn about his body and explore his world.

From birth to age 5, children are at risk of becoming seriously injured in a fall as physical skills develop before understanding of risks. In Winnipeg, falls are the leading cause of injury-related hospitalization in children under 9 years of age. Common injuries include head injury, concussion or broken bones. How and where a fall happens depends on the child’s age.

Your child’s age determines what puts her at risk of falling:

  • The most common reason that newborn babies fall is when they are accidently dropped by a parent or caregiver. See the page, Preventing Falls in Newborns, for more information.
  • In the first year, falls tend to happen around the home.  Babies commonly fall from adult beds, change tables, sofas, cribs, high chairs, counter tops or down the stairs.
  • As your toddler grows, becomes increasingly curious and can run, climb and explore, there is a higher chance of falling from a height.
  • As children grow from being a toddler to a preschooler, playgrounds become great places to play and be active. For this age group playground injuries are a leading cause of injury that sends young children to emergency departments.

Preventing Falls for Newborns

The most common reason that newborn babies fall is when they are accidently dropped by a parent or caregiver.

In the hospital

In the hospital after delivery, new mothers who are exhausted, on pain medication or who have had a Caesarean birth are at most risk of accidentally dropping baby. Also, tired new parents can fall asleep while holding or feeding baby.  Hospital staff will work with you to make sure that you and your baby have lots of opportunity to bond and breastfeed while keeping your baby as safe as possible.

You can help keep your baby safe in the hospital by:
  • Always putting your baby to sleep on his back in the bassinet
  • Telling your nurse if you are dizzy or drowsy
  • Being aware of wet floors, spills or equipment that may cause you to slip or fall
  • Always using the bassinet to transport your baby in the hospital when leaving your room.
In the home

Here are some tips to help you keep your baby safe:

  • For sleep
    • Lay your baby on her back in the crib if you are feeling sleepy so you don’t fall asleep with her in your arms
    • After feeding your baby at night put her in the crib before you fall asleep
  • Around the home
    • Wear non-slip socks or shoes in the house to avoid slipping while carrying baby
    • Be careful when using the stairs while holding your baby
    • A wet baby is a slippery baby so take extra care at bath time
    • If you are carrying your newborn in a car seat, be sure the harness is securely fastened
    • If using a sling, carrier or wrap to carry your baby, make sure your child is supported and snug. Have a good hold on your baby before you bend over
    • When you are not holding your baby, it is best to put him in a crib, cradle, bassinet or playpen or on the floor.  Babies can fall from adult beds, couches and other furniture

Preventing Falls: In the First Year

Your baby will grow and develop so much in the first year. Her abilities will change quickly.  As your child grows and learns to roll, crawl, pull up, stand and walk, some falling over is normal. But falls from heights can result in an injury and that is what we want to prevent. Parents can stay one step ahead of their children to help keep them safe.

Active supervision is the best way to keep your child safe from falling and other injuries. Active supervision means:

  • watching, listening and paying attention to what your child is doing,
  • staying close enough to your child so that that you can take action if needed, and
  • anticipating your growing child’s next skills and what this means for safety.
Tips to help keep your child from falling
  • It’s never too early to be careful. Some babies can roll over at a month old.
  • Never leave your baby unattended and always keep a hand on her when she is on a change table, sofa, adult bed or other raised surface.
  • Choose a change table with guard rail and safety straps.  Keep all your diaper changing supplies within reach so you don’t have to turn away.  If the phone or doorbell rings during the diaper change, take your baby with you or ignore it
  • Before your baby can push up on her hands and knees, lower the crib mattress to prevent her from falling out of the crib.
  • Once your baby starts to crawl, install wall-mounted gates at the top of the stairs and pressure-mounted gates at the bottom of the stairs.
  • Move furniture including the cribs away from windows. Install window guards or window locks which are available from home improvement stores.
  • Children can fall out windows, even through screens, so keep cribs and other furniture away from windows. Install window guards or window locks which are available from home improvement stores.
  • Use non-slip decals or a bath mat in the bathtub.  Never use a bath ring
Baby equipment and falls
  • For all child products, always follow manufacturer’s recommendations such as assembly, use, age, height and weight limits
  • Bouncy chair, baby carrier or car seat – Place the baby seat or carrier on the floor and not a table, counter or other raised surface. Babies rock, twist, reach and move which can cause them to fall out or can cause the seat or carrier to fall off of a raised surface
  • High chairs, strollers, swings, change tables, shopping carts and kitchen booster seats – Always use the product’s harness or safety straps .Babies can squirm, wriggle and climb out of these products, which can cause a fall or the baby to become tangled in the product.
  • Cribs – Lower the crib mattress before baby can push up on her hands and knees to prevent from her from falling out of the crib. Also, do not use pillows, toys and bumper pads in the crib as they are unsafe for sleeping and your baby could use them to climb out of the crib
  • Playpens – Avoid placing large or stuffed toys in the playpen. Babies could climb on them and fall out of the playpen.

Wheeled baby walker– Babies have died or become seriously injured falling down stairs in walkers. Wheeled walkers are banned in Canada and cannot be sold.  If you have an old, wheeled baby walker, take the wheels off before you throw it away so that someone else doesn’t use it. Choose stationary exercise stations instead.

Preventing Falls in Toddlers

Your toddler will grow and develop so fast and his abilities will change.  He will quickly go from walking to running and climbing.  Each new ability helps your child learn about her body and his world. You may be explaining to your child why they shouldn’t do something that could cause injury. For example, you may say, “don’t touch, it’s hot”.  At this age, your child doesn’t really understand danger and won’t remember “no” while playing and exploring. Parents need to stay one step ahead of their children to help keep them safe. Active supervision is the best way to keep you child safe from falling and other injuries.

Active supervision means:

  • watching, listening and paying attention to what your child is doing,
  • staying close enough to your child so that that you can take action if needed, and
  • anticipating your growing child’s next skills and what this means for safety.
Tips to help keep your child safe
  • Install wall-mounted gates at the top of the stairs and pressure-mounted gates at the bottom of the stairs. Once your toddler can open or climb over the gate or is around 2 years of age, remove the gates and teach your child how to use stairs safely using your hand or the handrail. If you can’t remove a gate because of younger children in the home, use a gate without notches or gaps that could be used for climbing.
  • Use non-slip decals or a bath mat in the bathtub.
  • Children can fall out windows, even through window screens, so keep cribs and other furniture away from windows. Install window guards or window locks which are available from home improvement stores.
  • Keep doors to stairwells, basements, bathrooms and balconies closed and latched.
  • Dressers, cabinets, TV stands, and ovens should be anchored so they can’t tip over onto your child if he tries to climb on them.  Home improvement stores sell brackets and anchors for this purpose.
  • Toddlers must wear a helmet if on a tricycle, or in a bike carrier or trailer.  It’s the law in Manitoba for people under 19 years of age.
  • Remove loose throw rugs or secure to the floor with two-sided tape.
  • If you have a balcony:
    • Keep entrances to balconies locked when not in use
    • Supervise children at all times when on balconies
    • Place balcony furniture away from railings. Choose heavy balcony furniture so it that is difficult for children to move
  • Choose play equipment that is recommended for your child’s age.  Playgrounds often have a sign saying what age the equipment is intended for. Playgrounds should have soft, loose surfacing under play equipment.