Infant Injuries in the First Year – Common Causes and Prevention

7 min read

Written by Aparna Hari

Aparna Hari

Infant Injuries in the First Year

Injuries are pretty common during childhood, especially during the first year of your little one. How much ever you try to protect your baby, they will still end up hurting themselves. While it is scary to think about, there will definitely be a point in time when you may have to turn into a nurse to tend to their injuries. Hence, it is better to be aware of some common infant injuries in the first year.

Read on to equip yourself with knowledge about some common infant injuries, their cause, and the preventive steps one can take to safeguard the baby from serious injuries.

In This Article

Understanding Infant Injuries

Injuries are part of the baby’s growing up process. However hard you may try, you can never completely prevent them from happening. The best you can do is to get an understanding of the kind of injuries that your little one is prone to having and take steps to protect them from serious accidents.

If you as a parent are well equipped with knowledge about the kind of injuries, how they happen, and what to do in a scenario where your baby is hurt, you can protect your baby from serious consequences.

7 Common Causes of Infant Injuries and Accidents

Some of the common causes of injuries and accidents in babies are

1. Falls

baby fall from sofa

Falls are one of the most common causes of injuries and accidents in babies. As babies learn to turn, sit, crawl, and walk, they become prone to falling as their bodies do not have control and are still learning to balance. While most falls are nonfatal, some falls can cause serious injuries like fractures, contusions, and head injuries. Some of the common places that babies can fall off from are

  • Bed
  • Sofa
  • Changing table
  • Highchairs
  • Bathing seat/tub
  • Walkers
  • Unstrapped baby carriers
  • Play equipment

[Read : Fall Prevention in Babies]

2. Poisoning


Accidental poisoning is common among babies, especially when your little one is very naughty and can reach for medicines and chemicals lying around the house. Babies are curious by nature and have a tendency to explore their surroundings. In the process, they might end up ingesting stuff which can prove dangerous to their health.

Poisoning occurs when the baby swallows any foreign substance like soap, shampoo, cleaning product like phenyl water, perfume, deodorants, plant leaves which may react badly, etc.

It can also occur when the baby is accidentally administered the wrong medicine, the incorrect dosage of medicine or expired medicine.

The most basic precaution one can take against poisoning in babies is to keep all such potentially hazardous things out of their reach.

3. Burns


In babies, burns can be of various types and can occur due to reasons such as

  • Accidentally touching hot surfaces like stoves, ovens, hot vessels etc.
  • Touching an open flame like a candle, gas stove, bonfire etc.
  • Chemical burns caused by solvent cleaners or acids
  • Electrical burns due to inserting fingers or objects into the sockets or by biting an electrical wire
  • Sunburns
  • Friction Burns
  • Cold Burns
  • Steam from hot liquids like tea, coffee, water etc.
  • Very hot bathing water causing scalds in babies

Burns in babies require immediate first aid. If it’s a minor burn, then it can be treated at home by putting the affected area under tap water, applying ice etc. But if the burn looks severe, then you should rush your baby to the hospital immediately.

4. Drowning


Drowning is quite dangerous for babies and kids. Even a little tub of water can prove fatal for the baby. As far as possible, keep them away from fountains, bathtubs, borewells, swimming pools, etc., where there are chances of them drowning. It is vital that you or a family member always monitors the baby when around water in any form.

5. Choking

choking - Infant injuries in the first year

Babies are quite adventurous and try to put anything and everything in their mouth. Mouthing in babies can be due to various reasons ranging from curiosity to teething to even normal play. Babies chewing batteries, swallowing coins and even small building blocks and parts of toys send parents into a panic mode. It is important for parents to ensure that they monitor their baby’s playtime carefully and remove any chokeable parts and items out of their baby’s reach.

Babies choking on food is also quite common and it is important to be careful when introducing foods for the first time. Starting off with mashed foods and giving age-appropriate finger foods for older babies is vital.

[Read : Infant Choking]

6. Suffocation And Strangulation


Babies can experience suffocation when something covers their nose and mouth and doesn’t allow them to breathe properly. Suffocation can happen when your baby is sleeping and doesn’t have a clear airway, when something clings on to their face or presses against their face. Plastic covers are a major suffocation risk for babies, and you must keep these away from your baby. You must also keep the baby’s cot and sleeping surface free from any chokeable materials including toys during nap and sleep time.

Strangulation can happen when a baby’s head or neck gets caught in some item of clothing such as dupattas, ropes etc. You should ensure that such strangulation hazards are kept away from your baby. The cause of death is a block to the airway preventing the baby from breathing.

7. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

SIDS or sudden infant death syndrome is a leading cause of death in babies who are less than six months of age and is a known cause of death in babies below the age of a year. This unexplained medical disorder occurs when the baby is sleeping and is known as cot death or crib death. Though there is no explanation for this syndrome, it is thought that the baby’s sleep environment influences this type of death. It must be noted that SIDS doesn’t happen due to choking or strangulation.

What Can You Do to Prevent Serious Infant Injuries in the First Year?

Constant vigil and keeping all potential injury causing stuff out of their reach are the measures you can take to prevent common infant injuries in the first year. Some of the preventive steps you can take are-

  • Keep anything that may prove poisonous, like chemical cleaners, soaps, medicines etc. out of the reach of the babies.
  • Some plants can also prove poisonous if ingested. You must remove such plants completely.
  • Baby proof your home and the areas around the house if you live in an independent house.
  • Never leave the baby unattended in the bath or near any other water body like pools, ponds, lakes, bathtubs etc. even for a second.
  • Keep the baby away from the kitchen as much as possible. If they have to enter the kitchen, then ensure to keep all hazardous stuff like hot vessels, glasses, knives etc out of their reach.
  • Don’t let them play with any household items – especially if the item is tiny and about the size of a coin.
  • Keep electrical equipment like hair dryer, iron etc. out of their reach and baby-proof all the electrical sockets.
  • Don’t take strollers or prams around swings in parks.
  • Once babies start to turn or crawl don’t leave them unattended.

These are just some of the steps that you can take to ensure the safety of your baby. The list is endless as babies can get injured easily. So it’s better to be vigilant and alert all the time.

[Read : Baby Proof Your Kitchen]

What to Do if Your Baby is Injured?

mother giving first aid to baby

When your child is injured, assess the injury to see if it’s serious or can be tackled at home by providing primary first aid. If the injury seems to worsen, then consult the doctor.

When Should You Consider Seeing a Doctor?

You may consult a doctor when the injury is severe, especially for second or third-degree burns, swallowing foreign substances, choking, or other such serious injuries. If you notice any worrying symptoms like – difficulty breathing or not breathing at all, the baby seeming drowsy or unable to wake up, the baby being unconscious, or bleeding from the wound not stopping – then immediately rush to the hospital.

Injuries are common among babies and toddlers. It is tough to prevent them. But you can always stay cautious and take the necessary steps to prevent the injuries from becoming serious. Babies are always explorers. Parents must do the watchdog job and ensure the babies are safe and secure. Happy Parenting!


1. What Are the Most Common Child Injuries?

The most common child injuries include Falls, Drowning, Poisoning, and Burns.

2. How to Know if the Baby is Ok After a Fall?

First, check the injury. If it’s bleeding, then apply pressure on the area to stop the bleeding. Use a clean cloth or bandage for this and keep it for at least 5-10 minutes. If the baby has difficulty in breathing, then consult the doctor immediately. If there is swelling, then apply a cold pack or ice wrapped in a clean cloth to the area to reduce swelling. Also, look for any other injuries to the baby’s body. Sometimes, the baby may get minor scratches etc. Also, check that there is no sign of any broken bones etc.

3. Is it Ok if the Baby Sleeps After Hitting the Head?

Injury to the head is tricky. If the baby seems active, is playing and responding well, then no need to worry and you can let them sleep. However, if the baby seems drowsy, lethargic, inactive, then rush to the doctor straight away.

4. Why is a Burn More Serious in Babies Than in Adults?

A burn injury is more serious in babies and requires immediate medical attention because the infant’s skin is very thin. Hence, the burn will cause more damage and injury and that too at a faster rate in babies than in an adult.

Read Also: Head Injuries in Children – Warning Signs and First Aid by Dr. Chetan Ginigeri

Aparna Hari,MBA in Marketing,P.G. Diploma in Human Resource Management from IGNOU Bachelor of Sciences (Home Science) from Nagarjuna University

Her experience in impactful writing combined with her background in Home Sciences makes Aparna the perfect candidate for content writing in the pregnancy and parenting niche.Read more.

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