Skip to Content
Home > Wellness > Health Library > Health and Safety, Birth to 2 Years
This topic suggests ways to help
prevent illness and accidental injuries in babies and young children. It doesn't cover every risk that a child faces. But it does cover many of the most
common hazards and situations that can be dangerous to a child in this age
Watching your child grow is a wonder. But there are concerns in
this age range:
Remember that no one can watch a child's every move or make a home 100% safe all the time. Try to find a balance among supervising your child, taking safety precautions, and allowing your child to explore. Learn all you can about child growth and development. Doing so can help you learn how to respond to and make a positive impact on how your child behaves.
seats, cribs, strollers, playpens, and high chairs are all often used by
infants and toddlers up to age 2. If any of this equipment is worn or broken,
or if you use it incorrectly, it can be dangerous.
If you buy
or are given used equipment, make sure it meets current safety standards and
has not had any safety recalls. You can check recall information from the U.S.
Consumer Product Safety Commission online at www.cpsc.gov or by calling
Taking care of yourself is a vital part of keeping your child safe. Most
injuries to children occur when parents or caregivers are tired, hungry, or
emotionally drained or are having relationship problems. Other common causes of
family stress include changes in daily routines, moving to a new house, or
expecting another child.
If you feel stressed, get help. Talk to your
doctor or your child's doctor, or see a counselor. Get together regularly with
friends, or join a parenting group.
Call 911 right away if you feel that you are about to hurt yourself or your child.
Learning about health and safety issues:
Protection against harmful germs:
Identifying household hazards:
Identifying hazards outside the home:
The importance of parental self-care:
Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve your health.
immune systems of babies and young children up to 24
months of age are still developing. This makes them especially prone to getting
sick after being exposed to viruses and bacteria. Exposure to common
pathogens can occur from person-to-person contact and
from improperly prepared food. Good hygiene practices can help you protect your
child from exposure to these germs.
You can prevent most cases of food poisoning by being careful when you prepare and store food. Wash your hands and working surfaces while preparing food, cook foods to safe temperatures, and refrigerate foods promptly. Be especially careful when cooking or heating perishable foods, such as eggs, meats, poultry, fish, shellfish, milk, and milk products.
To help prevent food poisoning:
For more information, see the topic
Food Poisoning and Safe Food Handling.
Colds and flu can occur at any time of year. These upper respiratory infections (URIs) spread easily. Babies and
young children have a higher risk for secondary infections
from these illnesses. Take extra care to help protect your child against
Go to all
well-child visits. During these visits, the doctor:
From birth to age 2,
children depend on parents and other caregivers for their safety. Safety issues
change and increase rapidly in number as newborns grow into toddlers.
You can help protect your child from accidents and injuries by taking general safety measures around your home.
Think ahead about what potentially dangerous situations will attract your child. Supervise your child, but keep in mind that constant hovering over children can limit their experiences and confidence. Balancing supervision with safety precautions will help prevent accidents and injuries, as well as allow children to explore.
The following are common accidents and injuries that can occur around the house and some suggestions on how to prevent them.
In the United States, safety
standards for children's equipment, furniture, clothing, and other items are
set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Although most new items
you buy will likely meet these standards, older and used items may not.
Equipment that has been used before, such as a baby carrier, may not be safe.
These items may have wear and tear that affects how they function. The CPSC may
also have recalled some items because of reported hazards.
that all the products your baby uses meet current standards. The following list
provides safety information for items frequently used by children up to age
To help you keep track of important safety features, see the topic Nursery Equipment Safety Checklist.
Sudden infant death syndrome is one of the most common
causes of death for babies 1 month to 12 months old.
Although SIDS cannot be predicted or completely
placing your baby to sleep on his or her back can help
prevent this tragedy. For more information, see the topic
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
You can prevent many falling
accidents by using common sense and appropriate equipment that meets all safety
standards. Recognize new hazards that your baby may bump into or stumble over as he or she
learns to scoot, crawl, and walk. And don't allow your child to walk or run with objects in his or her mouth. Your unsteady toddler could get face and mouth injuries in addition to other injuries from falling.
A young child can
strangle from a variety of household items. Protect your child by minimizing
Suffocation is another danger for young children. Teach
your child about suffocation and the importance of a safe play area. Pay
attention to possible suffocation dangers, such as:
Gun and firearm safety measures should be established for all households and especially those
where children live or visit. All guns and firearms should be kept in a locked
area, unloaded, and out of reach of children. Also store knives (even kitchen
knives), swords, and other weapons safely out of reach.
Teach children how to interact with pets. Teach them to never tease animals or bother them while they are eating. Explain that animals can sometimes hurt you. Also be sure to train your own
pets and keep them healthy.
Children younger than 5 years of age die
from drowning more than any other age group.2 Help
prevent drowning by following these tips:
In addition to these precautions, learn first aid and
CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). Knowing these
skills can make the difference between life and death in an emergency
situation. For more information, see the topic
Dealing With Emergencies.
You cannot protect
your child from every danger he or she can possibly encounter outside the home.
But you can take reasonable
precautions and teach your child basic safety rules.
This general training can help prepare your child for many situations he or she
Prevent accidents by using safe equipment, teaching
safety awareness, and closely supervising your child.
Before your child visits an unfamiliar home, ask the
homeowner whether you need to be aware of any dangerous areas, pets, or other
safety issues. It is always a good idea to see the household for
yourself. Don't be afraid to voice any concerns you have about safety. You are
ultimately responsible for protecting your child.
your child in day care, evaluate the environment and talk with care providers.
Ask questions about their safety guidelines. Identify any hazards, and ask how
they are handled. For more information, see
Choosing Child Care.
When you include your
child in your activities, be sure to recognize the related safety issues. And
focus on your child's comfort and safety.
Many parents wonder whether
they are equipped to handle the responsibility of keeping their child safe. You
will likely feel more confident if you are alert, take all the precautions you
can, and know how to respond to emergencies.
Taking care of yourself is a vital part of keeping your child safe.
Although accidents can occur at any time, most happen during times of excess
stress, such as when:1
signs of stress and what situations cause it. Be extra careful during these
times, and ask for help when you need it. Also, work on
taking care of your personal relationships.
For more information, see the topic
All parents have times when they feel
exhausted, frustrated, angry, sad, or overwhelmed. Recognize that this is a
normal part of being human and being a parent. But if these feelings become too
much for you to handle alone, keep your child safe by
For example, when your emotions are too
much for you to handle alone, you may not have the energy or desire to watch
your child as closely as you should. Some parents injure their children when
their emotions cause them to shake, hit, or push a child. This can result in
injury to the child such as
shaken baby syndrome, which can cause lasting brain
damage or even death.
Call 911 immediately if you feel you are about to injure yourself or your
Places to go for help include:
For more information on physical harm to children, see
For more information on
handling difficult emotions, see the topic:
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers a
variety of educational materials about parenting,
general growth and development, immunizations, safety, disease prevention, and more. AAP guidelines for various conditions and links to other
organizations are also available.
This branch of the CDC seeks to
prevent injuries and violence and to reduce their consequences. The website has information on injuries, accidents, and situations that can lead to injuries. Topics include home and recreational safety, motor vehicle safety, violence prevention, and traumatic brain injury.
This website has information about chemicals in toys, clothing, and other products. The Ecology Center
created this resource because product makers aren't required to disclose what chemicals are in many consumer
The National Institute of Child Health and Human
Development (NICHD) is part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health. The
NICHD conducts and supports research related to the health of children, adults,
and families. NICHD has information on its Web site about many health topics.
And you can send specific requests to information specialists.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is an
independent federal regulatory agency. CPSC seeks to protect consumers and families from dangerous products that can injure people, especially children. CPSC develops safety standards and informs the public about product hazards and recalls. You can call
their toll-free number or email them to report unsafe products.
Zero to Three is a national nonprofit organization whose
aim is to strengthen and support families and promote the healthy development
of babies and toddlers. The organization provides information about growth and
development and about health professional training. It also works to promote
public awareness about the importance of giving children a healthy start and
solid developmental foundation in the first three years of life.
American Academy of Pediatrics (2009). Keeping your child safe. In SP Shevlov et al., eds., Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5, 5th ed., pp. 457–506. New York: Bantam.
National Safety Council (2009). Water safety. National Safety Council Fact Sheet. Available online: http://www.nsc.org/news_resources/resources/documents/water_safety.pdf.
Other Works Consulted
American Academy of Pediatrics (2001, reaffirmed 2010). Falls from heights: Windows, roofs, and balconies. Pediatrics, 107(5): 1188–1191. Also available online: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/107/5/1188.full.
American Academy of Pediatrics (accessed August 2012). Pool safety for children. The Injury Prevention Program (TIPP). Available online: http://www.aap.org/family/tipppool.htm.
Rivara FP, Grossman DC (2011). Injury control. In RM Kliegman et al., eds., Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics, 19th ed., pp. 17–25. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier.
February 8, 2013
Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics & John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
To learn more visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2013 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.