Falls are the most common cause of accidental injury to children. While most falls aren’t serious – active children often fall over – some falls can lead to death or long-term disability. So it’s important to get the message across about the simple things that parents and carers can do prevent serious falls.  

We recommend CAPT’s leaflet How safe is your child from a serious fall? written for parents and carers, for essential advice on preventing falls.  You can view samples of all CAPT’s leaflets and place bulk orders in the online shop

How many children are injured in falls?

  • Each day, 45 under fives  are admitted to hospital after a fall.
  • Falls are one of the most common causes of childhood accidents. In 2008-09 over 16,000 under-fives were admitted to hospital after a fall.
  • Falls are also a serious risk for older children. Each year, around 27,000 children aged 5-14 are admitted to hospital after a fall.

How can falls be prevented?

One of the most common reasons that young children fall is that their rapid development takes parents and carers by surprise. A toddler might take his parents by surprise when he climbs on something that he had previously been unable to reach - how many times have you heard someone say “I didn’t know he could do that”? It’s important to guide parents through the different risks that are presented at each stage of a child’s development.  

CAPT’s resources are tailored to these different development stages, as well as specific risks, so that parents are able to get the information in a way that makes most sense to them. Our fact sheet for parents breaks advice down into four different child development stages:

•    New babies
•    First steps
•    Toddlers
•    Older children

Our parent-friendly picture books offer a colourful, engaging journey through these stages, with safety advice presented clearly at each stage.

Whether you’re educating parents or looking to make a nursery, children’s centre or school a safer place for young children, there are lots of things you can do to minimise risks.

Simple changes to the young child’s environment can stop them from having a serious fall. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Fitting safety gates so that young children can’t access the stairs
  • Fitting window catches so that they can’t fall out of the window
  • Keeping toys and clutter off the floor and stairs so there is nothing to trip over

Most people associate deaths and severe injuries with a fall from a high window, balcony or down stairs.  But falls from a low height can also be very dangerous if a child lands on a hard surface like concrete or paving slabs. Some changes will reduce the severity of an injury if a child does fall. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Fitting soft corners to tables, fire hearths, and other sharp corners around the home
  • Using impact-absorbent surfaces (such as bark chips) in playgrounds and gardens
  • Using safety equipment, such as cycle helmets, to reduce the likelihood of a serious head injury  

Teaching children to assess risks for themselves can also help to prevent injury. Helping  children to recognise potential dangers in their environment means they start to develop an understanding of how to reduce risk.

More information

CAPT’s range of leaflets and booklets will support you in your work with parents and carers by underlining the key safety messages. The leaflets are written with different stages of child development in mind, and are a key support tool when teaching parents about child accident prevention.

We also have a range of quizzes and activities to support you in your work with parents and carers.

This resource is a support tool for practitioners, and is not meant to provide stand-alone safety advice. You can find more detailed advice on preventing accidents in the parents section of the website. If you would like teaching aids for workshops, you can purchase some of our colourful, engaging safety resources in the online shop.

There are other important aspects of accident prevention, such as legislation and the physical, social and financial environment that children and families live in. Find out more about the role of practitioners in preventing childhood injuries and deaths from accidents.

Download this page as a PDF:

Falls PDF