However hard we try, our children still have those little accidents. As they grow, their lives change as they discover new ways to play, learn and explore. As a result, the types of accidents they can have change too. With increasing age and independence, injuries outside the home may increase. However, children under five are at some of the greatest risk from injuries both outside the home, and in – boys even more so than girls.
Here are five common childhood injuries for children under five, and how they might be avoided:
1. Breaks, fractures and sprains
Whilst playing, it’s likely that a child will take a tumble or two, but these falls can result in injuries, especially when a child lands with their weight on an outstretched limb - an injury more commonly seen in older children, and particularly when trees are involved! This can result in a sprain (the painful twisting of the ligaments in a joint), a fracture, or even a full break of a bone. Obviously parents warn their children to "be careful" but taking them to grassy or padded play areas can help to reduce these risks.
Matches and lighters can be fascinating to children and therefore should be stored safely and immediately after use. And, if you have an open fire, make sure the fire guard is in place and secured - try not to let yourself get distracted before this has been done. Cooker rings can easily cause a burn injury when little fingers reach up to the cooker hob. So turn off a gas ring or electric hob as soon as you have finished cooking.
Scalds and burns are often grouped together, but they damage skin tissue differently. Unlike a burn, which is caused by dry heat, a scald is caused by something wet, such as steam, hot oil, or boiling water. This will rarely destroy the outer layers of skin, but can damage the tissue underneath. The kitchen is the most common place for scalds to occur, and can be a dangerous place for your children - so keep them out of the room when possible. Here are some of the tips to avoid these hazards:
- Boiling saucepans should be well out of reach - handles pointing away from the front of the cooker
- Boil or fry food on the rear cooker rings if possible
- Don't let kettle leads dangle over the work surface - or consider buying a cordless kettle
- Don't let children play on the kitchen floor while you are cooking. This helps you to avoid tripping and them getting hurt.
4. Cuts and grazes
Scrapes and grazing are often caused by a fall onto hard surfaces, such as concrete, particularly if it happens when children are running or chasing each other. Broken glass can be a nasty culprit whilst playing outside, and knives are an obvious danger in the home, although any sharp object, such as a broken toy, can also result in cut hands and fingers. Whilst it’s important to let children have their freedom, we can help improve the safety of the home by:
- Keeping knives out of reach and not leaving them around after use
- Keeping the kitchen tidy to help prevent breakages and spillages
- Clearing up broken glass or china as quickly as possible
- Folding down the lids of opened, emptied tin cans (mind your own fingers) and throwing them straight into the bin.
5. Bumps and bruises
A lot of minor injuries in children, such as bumps and bruises, can be caused by falls. Of course, the odd knock or bump is a part of growing up, and that’s ok. These are often because of a fun game, or new adventure, and whilst distressing, a bruise can heal quickly. Typically, children can fall from furniture, stairs and steps, as well as from windows and of course: trees. So to limit the frequency of these ‘experiences’ check you have:
- Stair gates in working order
- Window locks
- Tidy play areas to help prevent your children tripping and falling onto the floor, toys or furniture
Most minor bumps and bruises can be treated by applying an ice pack (but don't put ice directly on the skin). They can also lead to aches and pains, so you may want to consider giving your child a pain reliever. You'll find the Nurofen for Children range of over-the-counter medication has a choice of treatments designed especially for the needs of children. Nurofen contains ibuprofen as its main active ingredient and can be given to children as young as three months.*
In some cases however, a bump on the head could be dangerous, and one should immediately seek medical help if there is any doubt about a child's wellbeing following this type of injury.
So, check the safety measures in your home to safeguard both the little and not so little ones. If you think your child may need more than just a plaster or a little TLC, remember that pain relievers containing ibuprofen, the active ingredient in the Nurofen for Children range*, can help ease pain and inflammation.
*For babies and children from 3 months (weighing over 5kg).
This article is for general information only and not intended as a substitute for medical advice. All information presented on these web pages is not meant to diagnose or prescribe. In all health related matters, always consult your healthcare professional.
Always read the label. Use only as directed. Incorrect use could be harmful. If symptoms persist consult your healthcare professional.