Newborn baby safety | Infacol

Newborn baby safety

Babies aren’t mobile until they start rolling, from around three months onwards. Though this doesn’t mean they aren’t at risk of being hurt. Because of brain immaturity and development, babies need their parents and caregivers to ensure their safety at all times.

Small babies don’t have the capacity to protect themselves from harm and can’t predict what is safe and what isn’t.

Evidence has shown that the most common location for childhood injury to happen is within the home. However, there is a lot which can be done to reduce the risk of harm to babies and small children.

10 top safety tips

  1. Always supervise your baby and keep them within reach.
  2. Learn to spot hazards and do what you can to get rid of them if possible. Get down to your baby’s level and look at things from their perspective. Little people are inquisitive and have no hesitation for reaching and grabbling the most interesting (and dangerous) things!
  3. If you see risks, make changes immediately. Removing or isolating a hazard will help to protect your baby and keep them safe. Take the time to do this, you’ll be glad you did.
  4. Buy or borrow baby furniture and equipment which has the Australian Standards tick of approval.
  5. Do a first aid course when your baby is a newborn. This will help to build your knowledge and confidence to deliver first aid if it’s needed.
  6. Look after your own health and well-being. If you’re not feeling well or aren’t able to care for your baby, it’s important another trusted and responsible adult can do this.
  7. Wash and dry your hands before handling your newborn. Ask other people to do the same. There’s no need to use anti-bacterial soap.
  8. Avoid holding hot drinks when you’ve got your baby in your arms. Ask someone else to cuddle them if you need a coffee or tea.
  9. Recognize if you’re feeling stressed or becoming overwhelmed with your baby’s crying. The safest place for a baby can often be in their own (safe) cot.
  10. Reach out for help if you need it. Ask your partner, friend or family member to support you.

Safe sleeping

Always follow the safe sleeping guidelines when you’re settling your baby for a sleep.

There are six sleeping recommendations to reduce the risk of sudden infant death:

  1. Always place your baby on their back to sleep.
  2. Keep your baby’s head and face uncovered.
  3. Keep your baby smoke free, before and after they’re born.
  4. Make sure your baby is in their own safe sleep space day and night.
  5. Sleep your baby in your room for the first 6-12 months.
  6. Breastfeed your baby if possible.

And check:

  • Your baby’s cot is positioned safely in their room. Secure blind and curtain cords above the floor and way from their cot.
  • Your baby’s toys are safe and don’t contain button batteries, loose ties or have button eyes.

Medications and poisoning

Never give your baby medication unless it’s been prescribed for them, or you’ve spoken with a doctor or pharmacist. Young babies respond differently than older children and adults to medications because of their immaturity and weight. Always follow the prescriber’s directions and if you’re unsure, check first.

  • Wash your hands after handling medications, cleaning products or other household chemicals.
  • Always store medication safely and get into the habit of keeping medications in a lockable container.
  • Try not to smoke and avoid your baby coming in contact with smokers.

Car and pram restraints

All baby car restraints and prams sold in Australia need to meet stringent standards for safety. However, they’re only effective if they’re used correctly and as each manufacture recommends.

Check the restraints

  • Are intact, not frayed or torn.
  • Are used every time your baby is in the car or their pram.
  • Fit your baby’s age and size. Restraints need to be adjusted as your baby grows. Check the label on the pram and car restraint.

Also, get into the habit of always putting the brakes on when you’re not pushing your baby’s pram. Use the wrist strap as an added protection. Buy new, or make sure you know the history of the pram and car restraint you’re using for your baby.

Hot water – scalds and burning

Children under the age of five are most at risk of injury from burns and scalds. Babies can be scalded very quickly, even when a parent is close by. If your baby is burned or scalded, cool the area immediately with cool, running water for at least 20 minutes.

Always check the bath temperature. Turn the cold water on first and off last.  Around 38° Celsius is the recommended temperature for bathing young children. Use a bath thermometer if you’re unsure and check the temperature with your wrist.

If you’re bottle feeding your baby, check the temperature of the formula on your wrist. It should feel comfortably warm and not hot. This tip is the same with solid foods.


Babies don’t understand that they are at risk of falling, particularly from elevated surfaces.

  • Always hold your baby securely when they’re in your arms. Watch your own footing so you’re secure and stable when you’re holding them.
  • Falls are the most common cause of injury to children. Even before your baby is rolling, it’s important to always stay close to them and not leave them unsupervised.
  • Never leave your baby unattended on a change table or bed. Keep one hand on your baby to prevent them from rolling off a raised surface.

Baby carriers

Currently there is no Australian standard for baby carriers slings and backpacks. These are a good option to free a parent’s arms and ease the pressure on the arms and back from carrying a baby.

Babies who are younger than four months, who are premature, low birth weight or who have breathing difficulties, are at greater risk of injury if they’re being carried in a baby sling.

The TICKS rule for baby sling safety

Tight – the sling needs to be tight with the baby positioned high and upright with their head well supported.

In view at all times – make sure you can see your baby’s face and their face, nose and mouth are not covered by the sling.

Close enough to kiss – your baby needs to be close enough to your chin so you can easily kiss the top of their head.

Keep chin off chest – make sure your baby’s chin is up and away from their body. If they’re curled up, their breathing could be restricted.

Supported back – your baby’s back needs to be supported in a natural position with their tummy and chest against you. Support them with one hand as you’re bending over.

Dog safety

Even the most loving family dog has the potential to be dangerous – any dog can and might bite a child or adult.

Always closely supervise your baby and children near animals.

Slowly introduce your family pets to the new baby and train your dog to obey your commands.

Never let your dog (or cat) sleep with or near your baby. Close doors between them and teach your pets to stay away from the baby’s room.


By nature, babies are curious and want to explore their environment. Your baby will quickly learn how to become more mobile and active. It’s important to supervise them at all times and know where they are and what they’re doing.

Written by Jane Barry, Midwife and Child Health Nurse, November 2021.