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Preventing Common Childhood Injuries

Age: 0 to 5 months

Risk: Falls

For infants between 1 month and 1 year of age, only sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) claims more lives than accidental injury. The California study found that falls from places like furniture, stairs, or playground equipment are the leading cause of injury for babies and young children under 4 years.

Because babies from birth to 5 months have limited mobility, their injuries are usually related to their caretakers' behavior and their environment. Falls  -- such as being accidentally dropped by a caregiver or a young sibling  -- are the leading cause of accidental injury at this young age. As babies begin to roll over at 4 or 5 months and acquire greater mobility, their risk of injury climbs.

How to prevent falls:

• Never turn your back on your baby while he is on a changing table, examining table in a doctor's office, sofa, adult bed, or other furniture.

• Keep the crib sides raised and firmly secured.

• Do not allow siblings to carry a baby unless they are mature enough to do so safely. When supervised, young children can hold the baby while seated in the middle of your bed.

• Install gates at the top and bottom of stairways.

• Place operable window guards on all windows above the ground floor and keep furniture away from windows.

• Do not let your child use an infant walker.