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Health and Safety, Birth to 2 Years


Topic Overview

This topic suggests ways to help prevent illness and accidental injuries in babies and young children. It does not cover every risk that a child faces, but it does cover many of the most common hazards and situations that can be dangerous to a child in this age range.

Why should you be concerned about your baby’s health and safety?

Watching your child grow is a wonder. But there are concerns in this age range:

  • Your child cannot understand and recognize danger. You need to take steps to keep your child safe from everyday hazards both inside and outside the home.
  • Your child's immune system is not fully developed. This makes it more likely that your child will get bacterial and viral infections and more likely that these infections will be dangerous.

What can you do to help keep your child safe?

You can:

  • Supervise your child both inside and outside the house. For example, always use a car seat, and watch your child closely when he or she interacts with pets.
  • Practice healthy habits to protect your child against illness and infection. For example, wash your hands often and keep toys clean, make sure your child is immunized, and go to all well-child visits.
  • Take safety measures around the home. For example, use sliding gates in front of stairs, and keep rubber bands and other small objects out of reach. And always place your baby to sleep on his or her back.

No one can watch a child’s every move or make a home 100% safe all the time. Try to find a balance among supervising your child, taking safety precautions, and allowing your child to explore.

What kinds of equipment can be hazardous?

Car seats, cribs, strollers, playpens, and high chairs are all often used by infants and toddlers up to age 2. If any of this equipment is worn or broken, or if you use it incorrectly, it can be dangerous.

If you purchase or are given used equipment, make sure it meets current safety standards and has not had any safety recalls. You can check recall information from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission online at www.cpsc.gov or by calling 1-800-638-2772.

How can your stress level affect your child's safety?

Taking care of yourself is a vital part of keeping your child safe. Most injuries to children occur when parents or caregivers are tired, hungry, or emotionally drained or are having relationship problems. Other common causes of family stress include changes in daily routines, moving to a new house, or expecting another child.

Learn all you can about child growth and development. Doing so can help you learn what to expect and how to handle certain situations.

If you feel stressed, get help. Talk to your doctor or your child's doctor, or see a counselor. Get together regularly with friends, or join a parenting group.

Callright away if you feel you are about to hurt yourself or your child.

Frequently Asked Questions

Learning about health and safety issues:

Protection against harmful germs:

Identifying household hazards:

Identifying hazards outside the home:

The importance of parental self-care:

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