Slips, Trips and Crashes: Handling your Children’s Falls

When your little one falls from his bed, crashes his bike or simply runs into the wall during a game of chase, you experience his pain as well as that heart-racing panic feeling that you try to suppress. You rush to pick him up and hold him close as you wait for the first shriek once he catches his breath.

All parents have to deal with accidents, but here are five tips that may help you avoid a trip or two to the emergency room:

  1. Understand the physics: Big heads and baby falls Babies’ heads are large in relation to their bodies. This increases the likelihood that they’ll hit their heads when they fall. Most of these falls can be avoided by attention – and staying between your baby and the floor.
  2. Make friends with your helpful hardware man: Buy gates, locks and guards You can prevent many injuries when your child starts to walk by simply installing protective gates at the top and bottom of stairways, as well as window guards or locks on all windows above the ground floor. Don’t forget to baby-proof Grandma’s house as well, and any other home where your little one spends time.
  3. Have helmet, will travel: The most important safeguard I can’t emphasize enough the importance of protecting those little heads with helmets. Start with the little ones, giving a shiny new helmet with the first shiny new tricycle. Use only helmets approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the Snell Memorial Foundation, the American Society for Testing and Materials or the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
  4. Protect little elbows and knees: Buy the right safety equipment For kids on rollerblades or skateboards, wrist guards, elbow pads, knee pads and helmets have all been proven to reduce injury. Wrist injuries are the most common rollerblading, skateboarding, and snowboarding injuries, and those wearing wrist guards are more than 10 times as likely to avoid injury.
  5. Let your kids learn by example: Yes, you need one, too Your little ones are much more likely to embrace safety techniques and equipment if you lead the way. Get a helmet of your own, and strap on the pads as well. Many of us were born before we realized that helmets save lives, and often I see parents riding without helmets with their kids, who are wearing safety equipment. If they see you without it, they’ll resist putting it on when you’re not there.

Read more about baby safety and avoiding crashes by older kids.

Published on: April 27, 2009
About the Author
Photo of Alan Greene MD
Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.
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