Read our first aid tips for common accidents, as babies’ progress from crawling to walking, they become increasingly mobile, inquisitive and keen to explore. This is when you really do need eyes in the back of your head, as they always seem to gravitate towards inappropriate and potentially dangerous things. This is the age you might find them eating cat litter, poking things in their ears or up their nose, or doing any manner of unthinkable things.

Characteristics of babies from 6 months to toddler

  • Large heads in proportion to their bodies, therefore head-heavy if they fall.
  • A propensity to put everything in their mouths.
  • Unsteady, whether sitting or moving.
  • Eating solid food, chewing and biting with new teeth.
  • Pulling themselves up on things.
  • Opening and shutting things, trying to fill empty objects and posting things through gaps.
  • They don’t learn from experience.

From around 12 months, babies learn that objects out of sight still exist and they may try and climb for things put out of their reach.

Most common accidents:

  • Falls from stairs, windows, chairs, cots and highchairs.
  • Suffocation from bedding, plastic bags, nappy sacks or packaging.
  • Choking on food and other objects.
  • Internal injuries from button batteries, cleaning products or dishwasher tablets being swallowed.
  • Strangulation from clothing, ribbons and necklaces, blind cords, or something hung over their cot.
  • Poisoning from tablets, cleaning products, plants and anything else they can get their hands on and put in their mouths.
  • Burns and scalds from kettles, hot drinks, hair-styling equipment, radiators, bath water and the sun.
  • Drowning in baths, paddling pools, swimming pools.

Babies can drown in as little as 2cm of water

Toddler playing in a paddling pool

  • Amputated fingers from hinges and slamming doors.
  • Bumped heads as they stand up under things, walk into things and bump heads with other children.
  • General bumps and bruises, cuts and grazes as they fall over whilst exploring.

Safety tips for this age group:

  • Fit stair gates and keep stairs clear from clutter.
  • Teach your baby to come down the stairs backwards.
  • Always hold the stair rail when going up or downstairs.
  • Never leave chairs next to a window, work surface or somewhere dangerous that your baby can climb to.
  • Strap them into the buggy and highchair.
  • Nappy changing is always safest on the floor.
  • Keep plastic bags and packaging out of reach and dispose of them carefully.
  • Always stay with your child when they are eating or drinking.
  • Discourage older children from sharing their food with the baby.
  • Keep small items and all batteries well out of children’s sight and reach.

It is not usually a medical emergency if someone has something in their nose or ear, but a common accident (unless it is a battery which will cause damage and needs immediate attention), but you do need a health professional to remove it safely. In hospital, common accidents often find medical staff having to extricate bits of eraser, toys or food from various orifices. It has even been found and recorded of the removal of a sprouting pea!

  • Never put necklaces or dummies round a baby’s neck.
  • Do not hang drawstring bags over the cot, tie blind cords out of reach.

Strangulation from children climbing and slipping with their head through a string or cord is not uncommon in this age group. Be particularly careful with blind cords and never hang anything around, or near a baby’s cot.

  • Medicines should be locked away; a childproof container may only delay them getting at them!
  • Be careful with bags or handbags left on the floor, they may have numerous potentially lethal hazards inside.
  • Lock away household detergents, buy dishwasher capsules rather than powder as they are less likely to be swallowed and choose cleaning products containing Bitrex which is bitter enough to discourage children from swallowing it.
  • Keep hot drinks out of reach, use a kettle with a short flex and keep it at the back of the work surface.
  • Use the back rings of the cooker, turn pan handles away from the edge.
  • Always stir food and drink to avoid microwave hot spots.
  • Fit a thermostatic valve to the bath to avoid temperature surges, run the cold tap first and use a bath thermometer.
  • Fit fireguards and radiator guards, turn off heated towel rails.
  • Be particularly careful of irons, hair straighteners and other hot implements and keep them and their flexes well out of reach when cooling.
  • Never leave a baby or child alone in the bath, even for a second.
  • Supervise water play at all times and always empty paddling pools and bowls of water immediately after use.
  • Be very careful with ponds and swimming pools.
  • Use soft corner covers for hard and sharp corners.
  • Use door stops to prevent doors slamming.
  • Secure furniture to the wall with furniture straps to prevent it toppling if a child tries to climb on it.
  • Baby walkers have been the cause of numerous accidents and are not recommended.
  • It is of the utmost importance that children are put in the appropriate car seat and buggy for their height and weight. Contact a reputable dealer for the latest advice and take advantage of their fitting service to ensure your child is protected while travelling.
  • Always adhere to the recommended age ranges on children’s toys.

A cup of tea is still hot enough to scald a baby 15 minutes after it has been made.

A cup of tea is still hot enough to scald a baby 15 minutes after it has been made

It was a little boy, scalded by a cup of coffee that inspired Emma Hammett to start First Aid for Life. His mum panicked when she spilt hot black coffee over his arm and the side of his head and rushed outside screaming for someone to help. Had she calmly run the affected area under cool running water, his burns would undoubtedly have been less severe and he may not have needed skin grafts.

Treating a burn

Treating a burn promptly under cool running water for at least 10 minutes makes a huge difference to the severity of a burn and therefore the amount of pain, scarring, length of time in hospital…that the casualty may experience.

Never touch the burn, pop blisters, or put on any creams whatsoever. Take burns very seriously and always seek medical advice.


Cool the burn under cool running water (keeping the casualty warm).

Cool the burn under cool running water (keeping the casualty warm).

If a baby is burnt, phone for an ambulance and keep cooling their burn under cool running water until the paramedics arrive. Do not rush to dress the burn.


Scalds are burns caused by hot liquids. The hot liquid can continue to burn through the clothes, so it is important to remove any loose clothing and cool the burn thoroughly as quickly as possible.

Always be particularly vigilant about hot drinks as baby’s skin is more sensitive than an adult’s and they can be burnt by a drink that has been standing for many minutes.

There was a baby in the burns unit who had been in a coffee shop when a cup of hot coffee was passed over them and it spilt on their arm. They were swiftly treated under cool running water and their arm was ok. Unfortunately, no-one had noticed that the coffee had also been spilt on their foot. They were wearing fur lined baby boots. Everyone was so busy attending to the obvious arm injury, that by the time they noticed the foot, it was badly blistered and needed hospitalisation.

Always check anywhere else that the hot liquid might have splashed or spilt.

Treatment for scalds - first aid

About for First Aid for Life

First Aid for LifeFirst Aid for Life and provide this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made or actions taken based on this information. The best way to be prepared for action in an emergency is to attend a practical first aid course or do one online.

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