The home can be a dangerous place for infants and young children. Parents can prevent injuries by carrying out a home safety evaluation and putting child safety measures into place. Below are safety tips related to infants and young children.

Prevention Tips

Look at each room from your child's eye level, and use the following tips to protect young children in your home.

Sleep Your Baby Safely

  • Always put the baby on the back for naps and at night.
  • Keep the baby near you, but in his/her crib, with a firm mattress and a tight-fitting sheet.
  • Do not put toys, blankets, pillows, or bumper pads in the crib with the baby.
  • Breastfeed, but place infant on his/her own sleep surface after breastfeeding is done.
  • Do not smoke near the baby, inside and outside of the home.
  • Keep baby cool, but not overheat them or the room.
  • Supervised tummy time.

In the Kitchen

  • Put all plastic wrapping or bags where children can't reach them.
  • Check floors and low places for small bits of food. A young child could place the food in his mouth and choke on it.
  • Always supervise children when they are eating.
  • Install child safety locks on cabinets where you store chemicals, cleaners and other toxic products.
  • Post the poison control center phone number (1-800-222-1222) and other emergency numbers next to every phone.
  • Children should stay three feet away from the stove to prevent burns.
  • Store matches, lighters, candles, and other fire tools out of children's sight and reach, preferably in a locked cabinet.
  • Keep appliances and cords away from table and counter edges.
  • Don't use tablecloths that can be pulled down.

In Your Child's Room

  • Locate cribs, beds, chairs, and other furniture away from windows.
  • Install window locks or safety guards on above-ground windows. Be sure they have a quick-release mechanism in case of fire.
  • Put babies to sleep on their backs and keep soft things out of the space where they sleep.
  • Make sure book cases are fastened to the wall. Book cases that are not secured can topple and crush a child.

In the Bathroom

  • Keep medicines, cosmetics and other hazardous substances in locked cabinets.
  • Keep soap, lotion and shampoo out of a child's reach.
  • Install toilet seat locks; turn over all buckets and store them up high.
  • Test faucet water at the tap and adjust water heater to 120F or below.
  • Purchase products with child resistant packaging.
  • Never leave a child unattended in the bathtub, even for a moment.

In Every Room

  • Check floors and low places for small objects like buttons, beads, marbles, coins, pins and stones. Young children can choke on these items.
  • Keep plants out of a child's reach. Some plants are poisonous.
  • Cover sharp corners on furniture with rubber guards or soft fabric.
  • Install baby gates at the top and bottom of stairs.

Toy Safety Tips

  • Buy toys that suit your child's current age, interest, and abilities.
  • Look for the letters "ASTM," which show that the product meets the national safety standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials.
  • Look for safety labels like "Not recommended for children under 3 years of age," "non-toxic," and "washable/hygienic materials."
  • Check toys regularly for damage and safety hazards such as sharp edges. Make necessary repairs immediately or throw away damaged toys.
  • Toys are frequently recalled for safety reasons. Check the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission site at www.cpsc.gov for updates and information on toy recalls.
  • Always watch your children while they play.
  • Teach your children to put toys away safely after playing. Safe storage prevents falls and other injuries.

Massachusetts Statistics

  • Injuries are the leading cause of death among young children 1- 4 years of age.
  • The leading causes of injury death among infants less than one year of age in 2010 was homicide (n=5). In addition, there were 41 sudden unexpected infant deaths in 2010. From multidisciplinary child fatality reviews, we know that many of these are associated with unsafe sleep environments or conditions (sleeping on stomach or side, sleeping with another person in the same bed, or with extraneous bedding).
  • The leading causes of injury death among children ages 1- 4 years in 2010 were homicide (n=7) and unintentional drowning (n=6).
  • In 2010, there were 1147 inpatient hospitalizations, 533 observation stays, and 43,732 emergency department visits for normal injury, among children 0-4 years of age. Falls were the leading cause of all of these events.

Related Links

Contact Us

Lisa McCarthy
Lisa.McCarthy@State.MA.US


This information is provided by the Injury Prevention and Control Program within the Department of Public Health.