Health Topics

Child Safety at Home

In Canada, more than 20,000 children go to the emergency department every year for injuries that happen at home. In the home, the most common types of injuries are from falls, burns, poisoning, choking, strangulation, and drowning.

In order to prevent injuries at home:

  • Actively supervise your child. Avoid distractions and don’t rely on safety devices to always keep your child safe.
  • Role model safe behaviours. Your child will copy your actions, so do what you would like to see your children do.
  • Be aware of milestones. Know your child’s stage of growth and development and the hazards associated with those milestones.

Make your home safer for children of all ages

  • Always confirm medication dosages based on your child’s weight with a healthcare provider.
  • Return any unused medication to any pharmacy.
  • Do not call medicine candy.
  • Keep all potential poisons out of reach, including: medications, cleaning products, cosmetics, natural health products, alcohol, tobacco, or cannabis.
  • Keep the Ontario Poison Centre number saved in your phone: 1-800-268-9017
  • Keep hot food, and appliances out of reach and hot drinks in a spill proof travel mug.
  • Run cold bath water first and last, and test water temperature with your wrist or elbow.

Risks at 0 to 6 months

  • Infants are learning by touching, pushing, grabbing, and often put things in their mouths.
  • They are active, curious and learning to wiggle, bounce, and roll over.
  • Their large heavy heads, weak neck muscles and little head/neck control puts them at an increased risk for injury.
  • A baby’s skin is very thin and delicate, and burns more quickly and deeply than an adult's skin.
  • Babies can drown in as little as 2.5 cm of water.

  • If your baby’s crying is becoming frustrating, place them in a safe place like a crib, cradle or bassinet, and take a break to calm yourself. Learn more about coping with infant crying
  • Place your baby to sleep alone, on their back,  in a crib, cradle or bassinet that meets current Canadian safety standards. Learn more about sleep safety for your baby
  • Lower the crib mattress once your baby pushes up on their hands and knees.
  • Remove any playpen attachments before placing your baby inside.
  • Always keep strangulation and choking hazards such as necklaces, scarves, blind cords, electrical cords, plastic bags, and small objects out of reach.
  • Check pacifiers and bottle nipples with each use for tears, holes, or changes in texture. Replace pacifiers every two months.
  • Do not prop bottles.
  • Always keep one hand on your baby when they are on any surface they can roll from.
  • Keep car seats, carriers and bouncy chairs on the floor.
  • Do not use baby walkers as they are banned in Canada.
  • Do not warm bottles in the microwave.
  • Read your rear-facing car seat manual when installing your car seat, and contact the car seat manufacturer if you experience any difficulties with the installation. Learn more about car seat safety
  • Never leave your baby alone with pets.
  • Always keep one hand on your baby when in or near water.
  • Avoid using bath seats.

Risks at 6 to 12 months

  • At this stage, your baby may be crawling, pulling themselves up to a standing position and learning to walk.
  • New skills they develop will allow them to move faster and reach for items at higher levels.
  • Infants at this age can get into danger quickly as they become more mobile.
  • Infants are prone to falls due to their large head, poor balance and coordination.
  • They can roll off furniture or tumble down the stairs as they become more mobile.
  • They can pull down objects onto themselves.
  • Babies are more sensitive to medications and chemicals than adults.
  • When a child is rear-facing, his or her weak neck and large head are cushioned and supported by the shell of the car seat. This helps reduce the crash forces on the child’s body.
  • Stay close to your baby. If you are not able to do so, put them in a safe place such as a crib.
  • Place your baby to sleep alone, on their back,  in a crib, cradle or bassinet that meets current Canadian safety standards. Learn more about sleep safety for your baby.
  • Use safety straps in high chairs, strollers, car seats and other products.
  • Use hardware- mounted safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs.
  • Choose furniture with wide and stable bases that sit on the floor. Securely attach furniture to the wall using angle braces, anchors or safety straps.
  • Always supervise your baby when they are eating or drinking. Gradually offer them different food textures while following their cues. Learn more about feeding your baby.
  • Avoid giving your baby hard or round foods like nuts, popcorn, candies, or olives. Cut round foods into strips, spread thick foods thinly onto a cracker, and cook hard fruits and vegetables until they are soft.
  • Once your baby outgrows the height or weight requirements of their infant-only car seat, switch to a convertible seat that will allow them to stay rear-facing for as long as possible. Learn more about car seat safety.
  • Keep a lid on hot items and place away from the surface edge and turn handles inward.
  • Put a barrier around fireplaces.
  • Keep bathroom doors closed and the toilet lid down.
  • Show and teach your baby how to treat pets nicely.

Risks at 1 to 2 years

  • At this stage your child is active, curious, and they are busy exploring their environment.
  • They are learning how to walk, climb, run and jump; however they still do not fully understand danger and cannot always remember safety rules.
  • They like to explore with their hands and mouth.
  • They like to mimic their parents and caregivers.
  • They are able to open bottles, drawers and doors.
  • They are learning to balance and develop coordination skills, but they are still prone to falls and do not understand the concept of height.
  • Your child may play with things in unexpected, creative ways that could put them in danger.
  • Your child may like to play in and explore small spaces.
  • They are attracted to water but may not remember safety rules.
  • Place cribs, beds and other furniture away from windows and balconies.
  • Move to a toddler bed when they can climb out of the crib or become taller than 90cm (35in).
  • Children under 6 should not sleep or play on the top of a bunk bed.
  • Supervise your toddler when playing in a playground. Keep them off equipment higher than 5 feet high.
  • Keep children under 6 off of trampolines.
  • Do not use portable bed rails for children under 2 years.
  • Keep your child in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible within the height and weight limits of the car seat. Learn more about car seat safety.
  • Once your child is forward facing, a tether strap must be used.
  • Don’t allow your child to sleep with your pet.
  • Use PFD/lifejackets when in or near water.

Risks at 3 to 5 years

  • At this stage, your child will enjoy imaginary play and may interact with objects in unexpected ways.
  • They enjoy imitating adults around them.
  • It is normal for them to be self – centered and impulsive.
  • They are very good at opening bottles and jars.
  • They are becoming more independent and adventurous, and feel more competent and confident.
  • They are able to climb and jump higher, run faster, and balance for longer.
  • They cannot make the connection between action and result.
  • Their confidence level may not match actual skill level and their ability to recognize hazards.
  • They still cannot determine speed and distance of vehicles on the road.
  • Your child is becoming independent and may want to help in the kitchen with cooking.
  • Always supervise children on playgrounds and teach them how to use equipment safely.
  • Continue to supervise your child when eating and teach them table manners (e.g., eat slowly, sit at the table while eating, chew and swallow before talking).
  • Keep your child in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible within the height and weight limits of the car seat. Learn more about car seat safety.
  • To use a booster seat, the child must weigh at least 18 kg (40 lbs.) and meet height guidelines stated in booster seat user guide.
  • As long as your child still fits within the manufacturer’s weight and height limits, he or she is safer in a booster seat.
  • To use a seat belt, the child must be at least 4 feet 9 inches tall, or 80 lbs, or 8 years old.
  • Teach your child about fire safety and practice fire drills.
  • Keep matches and lighters out of reach.
  • Don’t rely on older children to supervise your child around water.

Home safety checklist

Use this home safety checklist (PDF, 658 KB) to make your home safe for your child.

Contact us

Phone Health Connections: 905-546-3550
Email: [email protected]