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Falls are the most common cause of injuries treated in hospitals in all age groups. Even from birth, babies are always at risk of falling. Children are naturally curious and they often have the desire to climb in and on everything they see.
Slips and falls are a normal part of a child’s development. For instance, when a child is learning to walk, stumbling is part of the process. To avoid injuries, the aim is to provide a safe environment where they can practise their new skills.
Many falls are not serious and may simply result in a bump or bruise, others may result in fractures, cuts or head injuries. There are many actions you can take to prevent more serious injuries.
The most common falls in children 14 years old and younger include falls:
Children under five were also likely to fall from chairs or highchairs.
There are three important factors that influence the seriousness of a fall.
Place babies where they cannot fall. Babies wriggle from the time they are born and it is not long before they learn to roll over. When babies are able to roll, they can easily move across an area into danger.
A standing and toddling baby has frequent minor falls. To minimise these, look at the environment from their level.
Once a child has learnt to walk, they quickly manage to climb. Pre-school aged children have the physical ability to reach heights, but have no fear or understanding of the consequences of a fall.
When wet, some surfaces become extremely slippery for all age groups. A wet kitchen floor can become a potential crash scene for young children. It is safest to wipe up spills immediately. Encouraging children to sit when eating and drinking will help to reduce spills.
Fall injuries are common in the bathroom due to the combination of water and potentially slippery surfaces. Make sure you have a slip-resistant bath/shower surface and slip-resistant flooring; rubber mats may be useful.
There are anti-slip flooring products commercially available to assist with indoor and outdoor areas. Products such as safety walk tape, rubberised paint, slip-resistant concrete spray and lock matting are examples of some of the products available.
Falling onto windows or glass doors may result in serious injuries to children.
For more information, see our fact sheets Safety: Backyards and playgrounds and Safety: Around the home.
our Falls Prevention poster in these languages: Arabic, Burmese, Chin (Hakha), Chinese,
Dari, English, Karen, Khmer, Persian, Punjabi and Vietnamese
What should I do if my baby falls from a height?
If your child has a fall, check them for injuries and take
them to the GP if you are concerned. If your baby hit their head, look for
signs of head injury. See our fact sheet Head injury –
How can I find a balance between letting my child explore
and have adventures and keeping them safe?
While it is very important for your child's
development for them to explore their environment and push themselves to try
new things, there are precautions (outlined in this fact sheet) you can take to
minimise serious injuries. Create safe places for your child to explore, play
and try new things.
Developed by The Royal Children's Hospital Safety Centre. We acknowledge the input of RCH consumers and carers.
Reviewed July 2018.
This information is awaiting routine review. Please always seek the most recent advice from a registered and practising clinician.
Kids Health Info is supported by The Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation. To donate, visit www.rchfoundation.org.au.
This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. The authors of these consumer health information handouts have made a considerable effort to ensure the information is accurate, up to date and easy to understand. The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any treatment regimen detailed in these handouts. Information contained in the handouts is updated regularly and therefore you should always check you are referring to the most recent version of the handout. The onus is on you, the user, to ensure that you have downloaded the most up-to-date version of a consumer health information handout.