Keeping Babies Safe

Ask the Experts


Leslie Quinn, MD
Pediatrician 
Stony Brook Children's Hospital

Accidental falls and burns are among the leading causes of injury in infants treated at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital. A baby who falls may suffer a brain injury, broken bones and even death. Burns are painful and may require hospitalization for treatment. This can all happen in the blink of an eye. According to Leslie Quinn, MD, a pediatrician at Stony Brook Children’s, taking a few simple precautions can help keep your baby safe and sound.

What should I know about baby safety?
Many people think that keeping a baby safe is something that comes naturally. After all, people have been raising babies for thousands of years. Babies have always been and continue to be unpredictable. They can make sudden jerking movements, roll over unexpectedly and catch even the most watchful caregiver by surprise. That’s why it’s important to stay alert and learn everything you can about baby safety.

What should I know about falls?
Keep them low! Many parents don’t realize how easy it can be for an infant to fall. If a baby is very young, you may think that they’ll stay put. The truth is, babies are active from day one. They can move so they can fall. The head is the heaviest part of an infant’s body. If they fall from any raised surface they are most likely to injure their head.

What can I do to prevent an infant from falling?
Don’t let go! Whenever your child is in your arms have a tight grip and make sure that you are holding him or her securely. Make sure your baby is strapped in securely when in any device such as a carrier, swing or baby seat and place it on the floor. When changing your child, keep one hand firmly on your baby and, if you have them, use straps for extra security. However, just because your baby is strapped in doesn’t mean you can let go for a second. If your child is squirmy, change him or her on a comfortable pad on the floor.

What can I do to prevent burns?
For infants, scald burns are the most common type of burn injury, typically caused by hot liquids or steam. Scald burns often happen during bath time or in the kitchen. When possible, set the water heater thermostat below 120 degrees Fahrenheit, always test the water temperature before putting your baby in the bath and place them far from the tap and faucet when bathing them. Another common cause for scald burns is from adults who accidentally spill a hot liquid while holding the baby. Keep your baby in a secure location and out of reach of hot food and fluids when eating or drinking to avoid potential spills.

How else can I keep my baby safe?
Baby safety should be on your mind at all times. Even when you’re experienced, there’s always something new to learn. Be certain your baby’s car seat is properly installed. Keep prescription medicines locked away. Keep sharp objects and cleaning supplies away from your child. Never leave a child unattended in a car, a shopping cart, or near water – not even for a second. Make sure that everyone who cares for your baby is as well informed as you are.

How can I learn more?
Consider taking a baby first aid and CPR course. Your local library can be a good source of free information and classes. Visit the Stony Brook University Trauma Center’s injury prevention page at trauma.stonybrookmedicine.edu/injury-prevention where you can find information and car seat fitting station locations. Look for adult education classes at schools and community centers. Speak with your child’s pediatrician. Visit stonybrookchildrens.org, type “baby safety” in the search box and you’ll see helpful information, plus a list of resources.

KEEPING YOUR CHILD SAFE IS OUR TOP PRIORITY
At Stony Brook Children’s, treating sick and injured children is only part of what we do. We’re also focused on helping your child stay safe and well. Stony Brook Children’s puts many programs in place in the community to prevent death or injuries to children on Long Island, including car crashes, drownings, falls and bike/skateboard incidents. In February 2017, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) formally verified Stony Brook Trauma Center as the highest-level trauma center for adults and children. This makes Stony Brook Suffolk County’s only Adult and Pediatric Level 1 Trauma Center. When a child is injured and brought to Stony Brook Trauma Center he or she will receive the most advanced care from our team of in-house board-certified critical care specialists and trauma surgeons.

For more information visit trauma.stonybrookmedicine.edu/injury-prevention, or call (631) 444-7470.

All health and health-related information contained in this article is intended to be general and/or educational in nature and should not be used as a substitute for a visit with a healthcare professional for help, diagnosis, guidance, and treatment. The information is intended to offer only general information for individuals to discuss with their healthcare provider. It is not intended to constitute a medical diagnosis or treatment or endorsement of any particular test, treatment, procedure, service, etc. Reliance on information provided is at the user's risk. Your healthcare provider should be consulted regarding matters concerning the medical condition, treatment, and needs of you and your family. Stony Brook University/SUNY is an affirmative action, equal opportunity educator and employer.