Protecting your Baby From Stairway Falls
Babies are fearless when it comes to exploring the big wide world, and they have no understanding of cause and affect yet, so stairs pose no threat to their little beings. As parents this is our job to keep them safe from home hazards such as stairs which isn’t always as easy as it sounds.
A study from the Center for Injury Research and Policy found that over 93,000 children younger than five years of age were treated in U.S. emergency departments each year from 1999 through 2008 for stair-related injuries. That means that a child younger than 5 years of age was being treated in an emergency department every six minutes for a stair-related injury. That’s an alarming number of injuries caused by something that may have been easily preventable if using the right child safety gate. With the help of Perma Child Safety there are just a few simple measures you can put in place to ensure your children are protected from stairs in your home.
LEARN BY DOING
The best way to teach is by doing. Children aren’t born knowing how to get up and down stairs, it’s a skill they learn along the way. Most babies will instinctively go headfirst down the stairs simply because it’s what makes sense to them however, we can teach them the right way by showing.
Get down to their level and crawl with them showing yourself turning around and to climb backwards down the stairs. Help them get their bottom around first and guide them down the stairs showing the right way to use the stairs. This is a skill you can practice each day after they have learned to crawl and before you know it, they will instinctively turn themselves around which can help to reduce the risk of accidents and falls. As they get older and are up and walking around, teach them to always hold on to the railing when going up or down stairs. Have some rules in place to help keep things as safe as possible:
- Never bring toys or anything up and down stairs in their hands.
- Keep stairs free of clutter and in good repair.
- Always hold onto the handrail. Ensure handrails are small enough for little ones to be able to get their whole hand
BABY SAFETY GATES
As much as you try you can’t always be watching over your children even though you want to. There will be times where you are distracted by either other children, a pet, cooking or phone calls which is why baby safety gates are such an important part of baby proofing your home, especially around areas with stairs.
Parents often make two mistakes however when it comes to installing baby safety gates or barriers.
The first is only putting a baby gate at the top of the stairs. While this is a great first step, crawling babies and toddlers soon learn to climb the stairs from the bottom also which poses another risk to your baby with potential falls from halfway up. The safest option is to purchase two gates and have one gate at the top of the stairs and another at the bottom. We offer a twin baby gate pack for this very reason. You can put one at the top and the other at the bottom to ensure your stairs are completely cut off.
The second, is not installing the gates properly and using pressure mounted gates. The safest way to install baby gates in high hazard area in the home is by screwing them into place. Pressure-mounted gates can be knocked out of place and cause even bigger injuries if kids fall through them so make sure you are only purchasing hardware mounted baby gate.
KEEP FLOORS CLEAN
This one may be easier said than done with little kids around, but toys, clothes and other items left on the stairs become potential hazards to kids making their way up and down. Many parents can tend to leave items they need to take upstairs at the bottom, ready for the next trip. Try and find a new place for these objects and remove a potential tripping hazard. If you have wooden stairs, consider putting carpet over the top. It’s no secret that wood can be slippery, especially if you are in socks, which just adds to the danger.
DON’T FORGET OUTDOORS AND OUTINGS
Outdoor stairs can often be overlooked when it comes to home safety for babies and children, which is when accidents can occur. Opt for a safety baby gate, or keep the door locked so they can’t get out there without your supervision. The same goes when you are out and about with your children. If you are at a friend’s place, or somewhere else with a staircase, it is always important to assess the situation. Have a plan in place to protect your child from the stairs, such as sitting them in their pram while you are there or blocking off the stairs some other way.