This can begin at about six months as your baby learns to crawl, peaks at about eight
or nine months.
But by the time your child is 13 months old, this becomes much less of a problem
because he is able to move, often walking, and is so much less interested in exploring
by putting things in his mouth. Also, by now, picking up pen tops and loose change
will be second nature.
Older children are still likely to put things in their mouths, but it’s far less
frequent – by the age of three you hardly have to worry (most toys with small parts
are recommended to children aged three and upwards). But children can and do choke
later than this.
I dropped my baby
This is shockingly common, especially in the first six months. And parents up and
down the country have felt incredibly guilty about doing this.
In the majority of cases, it’s not that the parents dropped their baby from their
arms, but more a case of their baby falling off something – a bed or a changing table
are the most common.
The bottom line is that despite warnings from midwives, most parents leave their
newborns on changing tables for a few seconds while they pop across the room to grab
a forgotten nappy, or you might leave your baby on the bed while you get dressed.
The problem is that babies develop very quickly and by eight weeks they are able
to wriggle quite a lot, by 12 weeks they can rock vigorously enough to be able to
shuffle around in circles, and by 20 weeks many babies are rolling over.
Of course some babies develop more quickly than others and it’s essential that you
don’t underestimate your baby’s agility.
In the majority of falls, babies won’t come to much harm and parents will have had
a frightening warning to be more careful. But plenty of babies break bones every
year from falling off furniture before they are even a year old.
And worse still is the risk of head injury. It’s highly likely that your baby will
hit his head if he falls but although distressing, this hopefully won’t be too serious.
No need to take him to the doctor if:
- he falls less than two feet
- the surface is soft
- he cries straight away and then recovers within about 10 minutes
- your gut feeling is that he’s ok
Do take him to a hospital Emergency Department quickly if:
- You’re at all concerned
- He has a ‘boggy swelling’ which feels soft and wet – this could be a fractured
skull because the cracked bone causes inflammation which is a hospital emergency.
- He doesn’t cry immediately – this probably means he was knocked unconscious
- He vomits – this could be brain damage, although it’s common for babies to be sick
after a minor injury too.
- You can feel a swelling and are worried.
- After two hours he’s still upset.
Can I leave her for a few minutes on the floor?
Your baby should be safe on the floor for a few minutes, but once she starts rolling
(from about four months) you need to be very careful. Don’t leave anything dangerous
nearby such as small objects that she can put in her mouth, plastic bags, or wires.
And remember that babies who can roll can easily move across a room.
Will I need to bother with safety equipment?
There’s no rule dictating that you must get a stair gate, plug socket covers, drawer
locks and door jammers. But once your baby is really on the move (any time after
about eight months) these gadgets can make life a lot easier for you, and obviously
safer for your baby.
The perfect parent would watch their baby 24/7 and their baby would never come to
any harm. But in real life that’s probably not going to happen so safety gadgets
can really help out.
Nearly all babies will have a go at putting their fingers in plug sockets, they’ll
play with doors (which can slam fingers), and most will head off down the stairs
head first (they’ll do this when they first start crawling although many become a
little more sensible from around 15 months).
You can begin with a stair gate at the top of the stairs – babies will fall down
before they learn to climb up – then put one at the bottom of the stairs when your
baby is about 10 months and there’s a chance she will crawl up.
And it’s also worth getting socket covers if your baby plays near any sockets. As
for cupboard and drawer locks – these are essential if you have cupboards and drawers
full of dangerous objects that could harm your baby.
Otherwise they’re useful as a convenience to stop your baby constantly emptying drawers
and cupboards – it does get tedious putting everything back for the 10th time in