Accidents and injuries: Keeping your child safe in the home

A baby playing happily with colourful blocks on a fluffy rug.

Many accidents and injuries are a part of growing up as children explore and learn. But a serious accident can change the course of a child’s life forever. Thankfully many accidents are preventable by taking some simple steps.

Parents are often surprised by what their baby or toddler does next so try and think ahead. 

Under fives are at greater risk in the home and garden. Each year 40,000 under fives are admitted to hospital following accidents. Lots of these accidents are preventable.

Older children are at greater risk outside the home, on the roads as they start to make independent journeys, and at play, including in water.

Falls are the most common cause of accidental injury to children. Most falls are not serious but some can lead to death or disability. There are simple things you can do to prevent serious falls. Parents / carers are often surprised by what their child can do.

Before your child starts crawling:

  • Never leave your baby unattended even for a moment on a raised surface e.g a bed or changing table.
  • Nappy changing is best done on the floor.
  • Always place baby car seats and bouncing chairs on the floor.
  • Strap your baby into their high chair every time.
  • Keep a hand free to hold on when carrying your baby up or down the stairs.
  • Keep stairs free of clutter and discourage older children from playing on the stairs.
  • Before your baby starts to crawl, fit safety gates to stop them climbing stairs or falling down them. Close the gates properly after you go through them.

When your child starts crawling:

  • If the gaps between banisters or balcony railings are more than 6.5cm (2.5 inches) wide, cover them with boards or safety netting.
  • Be aware that babies might climb up on furniture. Keep low furniture away from windows.
  • Once a baby can sit up, remove large toys from the cot to prevent them climbing out.

When your child starts to walk they are likely to be unsteady on their feet:

  • Carry on using safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs until your infant is at least 2 years old.
  • Start to teach your child how to climb stairs but never let them go up and down on their own (even 4 year olds may need some help).
  • Don’t let children under 6 sleep in the top bunk of a bunk bed as they can easily fall out.
  • Keep low furniture away from windows. Ensure that windows are fitted with locks or safety catches so that they do not open more than 10cm (4”). Keep window keys where you can find them in case you need to escape a fire.
  • Special devices can stop doors from closing properly, preventing your child’s fingers getting trapped.
  • If furniture has sharp corners, use corner protectors to prevent your child from hurting their head.
  • Do not let young children go out onto balconies alone. Keep the door locked when not in use.
  • Supervise young children on play equipment. Make sure that it is appropriate for their developmental stage.

For more information visit the Child Accident Prevention Trust website.

Food is the most common thing for children to choke on. Babies and young children are still learning how to chew, swallow and breathe in the right order. Therefore they can easily choke on food, especially if they are not concentrating.

  • Always stay with your baby when bottle feeding. Do not prop the bottle up to feed your baby. They won't be able to push the bottle away if they choke.
  • Once your child has started on solid food, always cut it up into small pieces. Babies can choke on something as small as a grape (these should be cut lengthways) or soft like a marshmellow. Cut food into ‘thin sticks’ not ‘balls’ to prevent choking.
  • Don’t give young children hard foods such as boiled sweets or whole nuts.
  • Encourage toddlers and young children to sit still while they eat and stay with them.

Keep small objects out of your child's reach e.g. buttons, coins and small toy parts. Even small babies can grab and reach for things they shouldn't.

  • Be especially careful with small circular lithium batteries (button batteries). As well as being a choking hazard, they can cause severe internal burns if swallowed.
  • Read the age warning symbols on all toys to make sure they are suitable. Look for the Lion mark which will ensure that the toy has been made to the highest standards of safety and quality.

For more information visit the Child Accident Prevent Trust website. 

What to do if your child is choking:

  • If you can see the object, try to remove it. Don’t poke blindly or repeatedly with your fingers. You could make things worse by pushing the object further in and making it harder to remove.
  • If your child is coughing loudly, there’s no need to do anything. Encourage them to carry on coughing and don’t leave them.
  • If your child’s coughing is not effective (if they are silent or they can’t breathe in properly), shout for help immediately and give 5 back blows, followed by 5 chest thrusts. Call 999.


A safe sleep environment is essential. See our safe sleeping page for more information.

  • Do not use duvets or pillows for babies under 1 year old.
  • Always put babies down to sleep on their back, in the feet to foot position.
  • Do not sleep with your baby if you have been drinking alcohol, taken drugs / medication, smoke, are extremely tired, or if your baby was born before 37 weeks, or weighed less than 2.5kg (5lb 5oz) at birth.
  • Never leave a baby to sleep on a sofa or adult bed.
  • Never leave a baby unattended on a cushion or bean bag.
  • Avoid using a dummy cord or string. If you do, ensure it is shorter than 15cm / 6 inches.
  • When using a sling always follow the TICKS advice:
    • Keep your baby Tight
    • In view at all times,
    • Close enough to kiss
    • Keep their chin off their chest
    • Supported back
  • Keep nappy sacks and all plastic bags out of sight and reach from all babies and children.
  • Keep pets away from small babies and children.
  • Remove ribbons and ties from all homemade clothing.
  • Move bedroom furniture away from blind cords and chains. Fit a hook or tensioner to keep blind cords and chains safely away and always use them. New blinds should come with these.
  • Do not hang bags with cords or drawstrings on the ends of cots or beds.
  • Ensure rotary washing lines are covered when not in use.
  • Discourage children from playing with washing lines /rope/ cord (including dressing gown cords).
  • Always supervise children playing with capes / clothing which is tied around the neck and could get caught.

For more information visit the Child Accident Prevention Trust website. 

Playing in the garden can be great fun. Minor accidents are inevitable so try not to worry too much.

Follow these simple steps to make your garden safer:

Trampolines Children love the feeling of flying through the air and jumping. Many trampolines aren’t suitable for children under the age of 6 because they can’t yet control their bouncing. Always choose a trampoline with a net. Small children are better off bouncing alone and definitely never with an adult, who could crush them if they fell. Visit the RoSPA website for advice before you buy.

Ponds 5 children die in garden ponds every year. Keep young kids safe and either fence it, grill it or fill it until they’re a bit older.

Paddling Pools Never leave children unattended and remember to empty or cover them.

Plants Some garden plants such as foxgloves seem pretty to small children but are toxic. Always read the label carefully if you’re buying new plants. If you’re unsure about the existing plants in your garden, visit a flower shop or garden centre for more advice.

Tools and chemicals Put them away after use. Things like slug pellets or plant food can be deadly if swallowed by children.

Children can drown in as little as 5cm (two inches) of water. Drowning is one of the most common causes of child death. It’s often silent, so you won’t necessarily hear any noise or struggle.

  • Baths are the most common place for babies and young children to drown. Stay with your child the whole time they're in the bath. Never leave them for a moment, even if there’s an older brother or sister in the bath with them.
  • If you use a bath seat, remember that it’s not a safety device. You still need to stay with your baby all the time.
  • Empty the bath as soon as you’ve taken your child out.
  • If you have a garden pond, fence it off, fill it in or securely cover it.
  • Put covers on any large water butts or garden bins.
  • Watch toddlers when they're in a paddling pool or playing near water. Empty the paddling pool straight after use.
  • Make sure your garden is secure so that your child can’t get into neighbouring gardens where there may be ponds or other drowning hazards.
  • As soon as they are old enough, teach them about water safety and to swim.

For more information on drowning visit the Child Accident Prevention Trust webiste.

The good news is that children are at very little risk from electric shocks. Electrical sockets are designed to be safe.

Electricity can be dangerous in other ways. Old electrical appliances and wiring and children playing with electrical appliances can cause burns and house fires.

Electrical burns may not look serious but they can be very damaging. You should take your child to A&E if they have an electrical burn.

How can accidents with electricity be prevented?

Younger children might not know the dangers as they become curious before they know what they are playing with. Many parents might not know that their toddler is able to plug in an iron or electric fire. Parents can teach their children about the dangers as they grow up.

Keep electrical devices out of young children’s reach and away from water. For example:

  • Electrical devices such as hairdryers and mains-operated radios should be kept out of the bathroom.

Don't use electrical equipment incorrectly, or when it is damaged. For example:

  • Plug sockets should not be overloaded. Be aware not just of how many plugs are going into one socket, but also how much power they are using. Kettles and irons use more power than lamps and TVs.
  • Older electrical appliances can cause house fires. Check plugs, sockets and wires for scorching or fraying. If there’s a problem, use a registered electrician to fix them.

For more information visit the Electrical Safety First website.

Further useful links:

Child Accident Prevention Trust 

First aid information

Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) webpages on:


You can treat your child's very minor illnesses and injuries at home.

Some illnesses can be treated in your own home with support and advice from the services listed when required, using the recommended medicines and getting plenty of rest.

Sound advice

Children can recover from illness quickly but also can become more poorly quickly; it is important to seek further advice if a child's condition gets worse.

For information on common childhood illnesses go to What is wrong with my child?

All community pharmacies across England are required to be Healthy Living Pharmacies. This means that they are able to offer advice on a range of healthy living matters which includes eating a healthy diet. They can provide information leaflets and give parents, carers and young people more information about other organisations that might also be able to help.

Pharmacists are experts in many aspects of healthcare, and can offer advice on a wide range of long-term conditions and common illnesses such as coughs, colds and stomach upsets. You don’t need an appointment, and many have private consultation areas. Your pharmacist will say if you need further medical attention.

Sound advice

  1. Visit a pharmacy if your child is ill, but does not need to see a GP.
  2. Remember that if your child's condition gets worse, you should seek further medical advice immediately.
  3. Help your child to understand. Watch this video with them about going to the pharmacy.

For information on common childhood illnesses go to What is wrong with my child?

Health visitors are nurses or midwives who are passionate about promoting healthy lifestyles and preventing illness through the delivery of the Healthy Child Programme. They work with you through your pregnancy up until your child is ready to start school.

Health Visitors can also make referrals for you to other health professionals for example hearing or vision concerns, or to the Community Paediatricians, or the child and adolescent mental health services.


Contact your local Health Visiting Team:

Bradford Health Visitors or call - 01274 221223

Wakefield Health Visitors or call - 0300 373 0944

Craven Health Visitors or call - 01423 544265

Leeds Health Visitors or call - 0113 843 5683

Calderdale Health Visitors or call - 030 0304 5555 (local rate number)

Kirklees Health Visitors or call - 030 0304 5555 (local rate number)

Sound advice

Health visitors also provide advice, support and guidance in caring for your child, including:

For more information about what Health Visitors do: What does a health visitor do?

School nurses care for children and young people, aged 5 to19, and their families, to ensure their health needs are supported within their school and community. They work closely with education staff and other agencies to support parents, carers and the children and young people, with physical and, or emotional health needs.


Contacting the School Nurse

Primary and secondary schools have an allocated school nurse. Phone your child’s school to ask for the contact details of your named school nurse.

There is also a specialist nurse who works with families who choose to educate their children at home.

Contact your local school nursing team:

Bradford School Nurses 01274 221203

Wakefield School Nurses (0 to 19 service) 0300 373 0944 (local rate number)

Leeds School Nurses 0113 843 5683

Calderdale School Nurses 030 3330 9974 (local rate number)

Kirklees School Nurses 0300 304 5555 (local rate number)

Sound Advice

Before your child starts school your health visitor will meet with the school nursing team to transfer their care to the school nursing service. The school nursing team consists of a school nursing lead, specialist public health practitioners and school health staff nurses.

They all have a role in preventing disease and promoting health and wellbeing, by:

  • encouraging healthier lifestyles
  • offering immunisations
  • giving information, advice and support to children, young people and their families
  • supporting children with complex health needs

Each member of the team has links with many other professionals who also work with children including community paediatricians, child and adolescent mental health teams, health visitors and speech and language therapists. The school health nursing service also forms part of the multi-agency services for children, young people and families where there are child protection or safeguarding issues.

GPs assess, treat and manage a whole range of health problems. They also provide health education, give vaccinations and carry out simple surgical procedures. Your GP will arrange a referral to a hospital specialist should you need it.

All children should be registered with a GP. Anyone in England can register for free with a GP surgery. You do not need proof of address or immigration status, ID or an NHS number.

How to find your local GP.

Sound advice

You have a choice of service:

  1. Doctors/GPs can treat many illnesses that do not warrant a visit to A&E.
  2. Help your child to understand. Watch this video with them about visiting the GP or going to a walk in centre

For information on common childhood illnesses go to What is wrong with my child?

If you’re not sure which NHS service you need, call 111. An adviser will ask you questions to assess your symptoms and then give you the advice you need, or direct you straightaway to the best service for you in your area.

Please note, the online version of NHS 111 is only recommended for children over the age of 5. If your child is under 5 years old, please phone 111.

NHS 111 can also direct you to your nearest urgent treatment centre (minor injuries unit or walk-in centre).

Find your local urgent treatment centre.

When to visit an urgent treatment centre.

Sound advice

Use NHS 111 if you are unsure what to do next, have any questions about a condition or treatment or require information about local health services.

For information on common childhood illnesses go to What is wrong with my child?

A&E departments provide vital care for life-threatening emergencies, such as:

  • loss of consciousness
  • breathing difficulties
  • severe bleeding that cannot be stopped
  • major trauma such as road traffic collisions

If you’re not sure it’s an emergency, call 111 for advice.

Sound advice

  1. Many visits to A&E and calls to 999 could be resolved by any other NHS services.
  2. If your child's condition is not critical, choose another service to get them the best possible treatment.
  3. Help your child to understand. Watch this video with them about going to A&E or riding in an ambulance

This guidance has been reviewed and adapted by healthcare professionals across West Yorkshire with consent from the Hampshire development groups.