At this stage of their development, children can climb and do simple things like opening containers. They’ll also put things in their mouth to explore taste and texture. This is all perfectly normal, but it can lead to injuries if you don’t take care.
Out and about
There will come a time when you'll need to start using a forward-facing child car seat, but carry on using your rear-facing seat for as long as you can as these provide better protection in a crash. Remember, when taking your toddler out of the car or putting them in, do so from the pavement side of the vehicle.
- Use a five-point harness to secure your child in a pushchair.
- Use a harness and reins when out walking, or hold your child’s hand tightly. It only takes a few seconds for them to run into the road.
- Set a good example when crossing the road by choosing a safe place and talking to your child about what you're doing.
- Children under five are too young to play in the street. Find a safe place for them to play outside, such as the garden or a playground.
When babies start to walk, they're unsteady on their feet but can move very quickly. They tend to trip and fall.
- Until your baby is at least two years old, use safety gates at the top and bottom of the stairs to stop them climbing stairs and falling down them. Close the gates properly each time you go through them.
- Teach your child how to climb stairs but never let them go up and down on their own. Even four-year-olds may need some help.
- Don’t let children under five sleep in the top bunk of a bunk bed, as they can easily fall out.
- Keep low furniture away from windows and ensure that windows are fitted with locks or safety catches. Make sure adults know where the keys are kept in case of fire.
- Use a five-point harness when your child is in their highchair.
Preventing house fires, burns and scalds
Toddlers will play with anything they can reach.
- Keep matches and lighters out of young children’s sight and reach.
- Use a kettle with a short or curly flex to stop it hanging over the edge of the work surface, where it could be grabbed.
- When cooking, use the rings at the back of the cooker and turn saucepan handles towards the back so they can’t be grabbed by little fingers.
- It’s best to keep your toddler out of the kitchen, well away from kettles, saucepans and hot oven doors. You could put a safety gate across the doorway.
- Keep hot drinks well away from young children. A hot drink can still scald 20 minutes after it was made.
- When you’ve finished using your iron or hair straighteners, put them out of reach while they cool down. Make sure your child can’t grab the flex while you’re using them.
Preventing choking and suffocation
Children will put everything and anything they can in their mouths. It’s all part of learning, but even something as small as a grape can choke them.
- Cut food up so that it’s small enough for their mouth. Don’t give young children hard food such as boiled sweets.
- Don’t give whole peanuts or other nuts to children under five years old, as they could choke.
- Don’t leave your children when they're eating. Encourage them to sit still as running around while eating could make them choke.
- Keep small objects such as coins, buttons or small parts from older children’s toys away from toddlers.
- Keep plastic bags of all types out of reach and sight of young children so that they can’t play with them and put them over their head.
Toddlers can strangle themselves when playing with cords. They can also get their heads stuck when they squeeze their body through small gaps. This can be particularly dangerous if their feet are off the ground.
- Cut back or tie up curtain or blind cords so that they’re well out of your toddler’s reach.
- Don’t leave any type of rope or cord lying around, including dressing-gown cords.
- Stop toddlers from trying to squeeze through rails or banisters.
- Keep toys and garden play equipment well away from washing lines so that children can't stand on them and reach the line.
Toddlers can drown in very shallow water, such as in baths or ponds. Drowning is silent so you won’t necessarily hear any noise or struggling.
- Never leave young children alone in the bath, even for a second.
- Empty the bath as soon as you’ve taken your child out.
- If you have a garden pond, fence it off, fill it in or securely cover it.
- Watch toddlers when they're in a paddling pool or playing near water. Empty the paddling pool straight after use.
- Make sure your garden is secure so that your child can’t get into neighbouring gardens, where there may be ponds or other drowning hazards.
Toddlers like putting things in their mouths to see what they taste like. They’ll also find all sorts of ways to reach things that look like sweets.
- Keep all medicines locked away or high up out of reach and sight.
- Keep cleaning products high up out of reach. If that’s not possible, fit safety catches to low cupboard doors. Choose cleaning products that contain a bittering agent. This makes them taste nasty, so children are less likely to swallow them.
- Make sure that bottle tops and lids are always firmly closed when not in use.
- Check your garden for poisonous plants. Teach children not to eat anything they pick outdoors until they’ve checked with an adult.
Preventing cuts, bumps and bruises
Toddlers don’t understand the concept of danger. While minor cuts, bumps and bruises are part of growing up, there are things you can do to protect them from serious accidents or injuries.
- Use safety glass in low glass doors and windows or cover panes with safety film. Safety film holds the window together if the glass is broken.
- Keep scissors, knives and razors out of children's reach.
- Special devices can stop doors from closing properly, preventing your child’s fingers getting trapped. At night, remember to close doors to stop any potential fires from spreading.
- If furniture has sharp corners, use corner protectors to prevent your child from hurting their head.