The warning comes as data from the Victorian Injury Surveillance Unit (VISU) shows that in 2019/20, 386 Victorian children were treated in hospital due to injuries involving high chairs, cots and change tables – an average of 7 children per week. The large majority of these injuries (88%) were due to falls.
Jason Chambers, General Manager of Kidsafe Victoria, highlighted the important steps parents and carers can take to reduce the risk of serious injuries.
“While all children will experience minor bumps and bruises as they grow, falls can also result in far more severe injuries. As well as choosing safe nursery furniture and equipment, it’s important that these items are set up and used correctly, to help reduce the risk of falls and other injuries”, said Mr Chambers.
Michelle – Mum to two young children – is sadly one parent who knows all too well about the devastating injuries that a fall can result in. One Christmas evening, her 11-month-old son fell off of his change table – an event which changed their family forever.
“He was crying but started to settle in my arms. I thought I better phone Nurse on Call as he fell over a metre onto very thin carpet,” recalled Michelle.
“He didn’t show any signs of a head injury – no vomiting or loss of consciousness. I’m not sure why I said to go to the Hospital, it was just a mother’s instinct – I knew he had to be there. It turned out he had a fractured skull and massive bleed on the brain.”
Incredibly, after 16 days in hospital, Michelle’s son was released – however, the effects of his injuries have been long lasting. Now 8-years-old, he has numerous neurological, behavioural, and physical disabilities. He must also be heavily medicated to be able to sleep.
Mr Chambers said that many injuries occur when parents are caught unaware the first time their child rolls, crawls or stands, highlighting the importance of planning ahead when putting in place safety measures.
“Babies develop new skills rapidly – they wriggle from the time they are born and it is not long before they learn to roll over. When they do begin to roll, they can move quickly and get into danger in a matter of seconds.”
“With nursery items such as change tables, when children look like they are starting to become more mobile, it can be safer to change them at floor level on a towel or changing mat”, said Mr Chambers.
Kidsafe Victoria has released a set of safety tips to help parents and carers reduce the risk of falls from nursery furniture and equipment:
- Keep one hand on your baby at all times when they are on a change table
- Have everything that you will need to change your baby within arm’s reach such as nappies, cream and wipes
- If practical, it can be safer to change your child at floor level on a towel or changing mat, particularly when they look like they are becoming more mobile
- Always strap children into their high chair using the harness and supervise them at all times
- Remove any items from your child’s cot that they could use as a climbing aid
- If your cot has an adjustable base, ensure it is moved to the lowest setting as soon as your child can sit unaided
- When a child is observed attempting to climb out of a cot and looking like they might succeed, it is time to move them into a bed
To find out more about Michelle’s story, please read our blog: https://www.kidsafevic.com.au/mothers-instinct-and-a-change-table-fall-that-changed-lives/
For more information on childhood injury prevention, please visit https://www.kidsafevic.com.au
Jason Chambers, General Manager, Kidsafe Victoria – 0431 447 982
Michelle’s 11-month-old son spent 16 days in hospital due to an Acquired Brain Injury. He had a 4cm piece of skill missing, and had to wear a helmet until he was 2-years-old. He had many falls because he was just starting to walk and would hit his head.
Now 8-years-old, he has ended up with Autistic traits (currently awaiting formal diagnosis of Autism), ADHD, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, Sensory Processing Disorder, severe anxiety, behavioural problems, aggression and violence, right sided peripheral vision loss, has very mild weakness in his left leg and right arm, and short-term memory loss. He also must be heavily medicated to be able to sleep.