Preven­tion is best, but what if your lit­tle one in­jures her­self at home? These are what you should do when mishaps hap­pen, the ex­perts tell ELISA CHIA and EVELINE GAN.

Young Parents (Singapore) - - Contents -

The ex­perts ex­plain why this and other un­safe prac­tices should be dis­con­tin­ued.

OH NO! Your lit­tle one fell off the bed and hit her head.

Keep a close eye on her for three days after she suf­fers a head in­jury, says Dr Tham Lai Peng, se­nior con­sul­tant pae­di­a­tri­cian at the Depart­ment of Emer­gency Medicine from KK Women’s and Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal.

Take her to the Emer­gency Depart­ment im­me­di­ately if you no­tice any of these signs:

• Vom­it­ing

• Drowsi­ness

• Changes in be­hav­iour, such as ir­ri­tabil­ity, dis­ori­en­ta­tion and con­fu­sion

• Bleed­ing from the ears or nose

• Un­steady gait

• Weak­ness of arms

• Fits

• Un­usual eye move­ments

What you want to rule out are skull frac­tures and brain in­juries that can be se­ri­ous. While mon­i­tor­ing your baby, avoid giv­ing her med­i­ca­tion that may cause drowsi­ness.

Never leave your young child unat­tended on an adult bed or other high sur­face, even if you think she is asleep.

If you must walk away for a while, al­ways leave her in the cot or playpen in­stead.

Once your tod­dler moves to her big-kid bed, in­stall bed rails to pre­vent falls.

Also, it is im­por­tant that you don’t put your lit­tle one in a sarong cra­dle – this is a ter­ri­bly un­safe prac­tice that needs to be dis­con­tin­ued, ex­plains Dr Natalie Ep­ton, a spe­cial­ist pae­di­a­tri­cian and neona­tol­o­gist from SBCC Baby & Child Clinic at Mount El­iz­a­beth Novena Spe­cial­ist Cen­tre.

Hos­pi­tals’ emer­gency de­part­ments see count­less cases of ba­bies tum­bling out of sarongs onto hard mar­ble floors and sus­tain­ing se­ri­ous head in­juries.

OH NO! Your tod­dler swal­lowed your pills or house­hold clean­ing so­lu­tion.

Your young child may ap­pear to be well even after she swal­lows med­i­ca­tion like parac­eta­mol, iron tablets, as well as pills for di­ar­rhoea, high blood pres­sure and di­a­betes, Dr Tham from KKH says. But this doesn’t mean you should adopt a wai­t­and-see at­ti­tude; visit a doc­tor right away.

If you know what she has taken, bring along the la­belled con­tainer so that when treat­ment is needed, it can be done early, Dr Tham ex­plains. The same ad­vice ap­plies if she has in­gested house­hold clean­ing so­lu­tions.

Never stick your fin­gers into her throat to in­duce vom­it­ing – that may make her choke, warns Am­brose Lee, as­sis­tant head at Sin­ga­pore Red Cross Acad­emy.

The haz­ardous sub­stance may end up go­ing into the lungs, caus­ing breath­ing prob­lems, he adds.

On your way to the hospi­tal, di­lute the poi­son by feed­ing her about 30ml of wa­ter or milk in small sips, Dr Tham from KKH ad­vises.

Store med­i­ca­tions and kitchen clean­ing chem­i­cals in locked cab­i­nets or places that are be­yond her reach, ad­vises Dr Andrea Yeo, con­sul­tant at Na­tional Univer­sity Hospi­tal’s Chil­dren’s Emer­gency Depart­ment.

Never trans­fer clean­ing so­lu­tions into old plas­tic drink­ing bot­tles – you don’t want her to mis­take it for her favourite juice.

OH NO! You ac­ci­den­tally cut your new­born’s fin­ger while trim­ming her nails.

Place the fin­ger un­der run­ning wa­ter and press on the wound to stop the bleed­ing, Dr Tham from KKH ad­vises.

Clean it with an­ti­sep­tic so­lu­tion and cover with a non-stick ster­ile dress­ing. This first-aid method ap­plies to all cuts.

While you might be ea­ger to check on it, re­frain from chang­ing her dress­ing too fre­quently. Do so only ev­ery three to four days, as re­mov­ing it daily will pull off the heal­ing tis­sue and pro­long re­cov­ery.

But see a doc­tor im­me­di­ately if the bleed­ing is se­ri­ous, Dr Tham adds. If the wound has been con­tam­i­nated by soil or dirt, take her to the Emer­gency Depart­ment.

A new baby’s nails are tis­sue-thin and soft – it’s easy to nick some skin if you’re not care­ful. To pre­vent such ac­ci­dents, re­sist trim­ming them un­til after she is at least six weeks old, when they would have be­come harder, ad­vises Wong Boh Boi, deputy di­rec­tor (clin­i­cal) and se­nior parentcraft lactation con­sul­tant at Thom­son Med­i­cal Cen­tre.

Al­though some par­ents pre­fer to peel the ends off with their fin­gers or bite them off, Boh Boi doesn’t en­cour­age this prac­tice. That’s be­cause you might tear off more than in­tended, caus­ing sore­ness and bleed­ing.

In­stead, use a minia­ture scis­sors or clip­pers spe­cially de­signed for ba­bies. Both al­low for greater ac­cu­racy – just choose one that you’re com­fort­able with.

These scis­sors usu­ally have blunt,

rounded tips and are quiet work­ers, while some clip­pers can pre­vent the blades from get­ting too close to the flesh of the fin­gers.

You might find it eas­ier to trim your cu­tie’s nails while she is asleep or re­laxed in a brightly lit area.

Fol­low the nat­u­ral curves of the fin­ger­nails and cut toe­nails straight across to avoid painful in­grown nails and in­fec­tions.

Be­sides get­ting the right in­stru­ment, Boh Boi re­minds that the room should also be well lit. Take your time while you’re at it.

Re­mem­ber to also keep that clip­per and other sharp ob­jects out of reach when you’re done.

OH NO! Your baby had a fall and can­not move her arm.

She might have a frac­ture, espe­cially if her cry sounds like a sharp scream when you touch the af­fected limb, says Dr Yeo from NUH. Take her to the hospi­tal for an as­sess­ment; she might need an X-ray.

Be­fore that, make a sling to sup­port her arm – you can im­pro­vise with a broad­fold ban­dage or a soft towel. Se­cure the arm to her body with the sling while on the way to the hospi­tal, Sin­ga­pore Red Cross Acad­emy’s Am­brose says.

If it’s her leg, how­ever, do not move her. There is a chance the bro­ken thigh bone could cut a large artery. Call for an am­bu­lance im­me­di­ately, Am­brose ad­vises.

To min­imise the risk of falls, al­ways wipe spills im­me­di­ately and use se­cure rub­ber mats in the bath­tub and shower areas to pre­vent slip­ping.

It is also im­por­tant to never put your lit­tle one in a baby walker, Dr Yeo warns. It can tip her over and cause mul­ti­ple in­juries.

Baby-proof your home by in­stalling safety gates to block her ac­cess to the stairs, and keep the floor un­clut­tered to pre­vent trip­ping, she adds.

OH NO! Your tod­dler fell on his face, end­ing up with a bloody mouth.

Bleed­ing is com­mon after mouth and face in­juries be­cause of cuts to the soft tis­sues. Most of the time, they are su­per­fi­cial nicks, shares Dr Rashid Tahir, a spe­cial­ist pae­di­atric den­tist at The Kids Den­tist.

But when the blood mixes with saliva, re­sult­ing in what looks like a lot of blood, it makes the wound seem worse than it is. How­ever, there are rare in­stances where the wounds are deep and may re­quire stitches.

The best way to stop bleed­ing is to use a clean towel to ap­ply con­tin­u­ous pres­sure for 10 min­utes. Time your­self – do not keep re­mov­ing the pres­sure. Check only after 10 min­utes.

Don’t use tis­sue be­cause the pa­per may have to be teased off the cut areas, which may start the bleed­ing again. Don’t rinse away the blood – this is the worst thing to do be­cause it will pre­vent the blood from clot­ting.

But why not use a cold com­press? Dr Tahir says it isn’t a prac­ti­cal op­tion be­cause it is too bulky and will not fit into the oral cav­ity. Us­ing ice cubes won’t help ei­ther be­cause when the ice melts, it may de­lay the blood from clot­ting.

Any mouth and face trauma should be ex­am­ined by a den­tist. Three types of tooth in­juries could have hap­pened, Dr Tahir says:


Such frac­tures may ex­pose the nerves and cause the tooth to be wob­bly and painful when chew­ing. Worse, the up­per part of the tooth may be dis­lodged and cause a chok­ing hazard to chil­dren below three years old. An X-ray may be re­quired.


Most mouth in­juries can cause the teeth to be­come wob­bly or, in se­vere cases, fall out. In this case, it can be a chok­ing hazard.


He may be suf­fer­ing from pain caused by mild bruis­ing to lac­er­a­tions in the soft tis­sues, like lips or gums.

In­juries to pri­mary teeth can cause in­fec­tions that may harm the child. They may even dis­turb the de­vel­op­ment of the un­der­ly­ing form­ing adult teeth and will re­quire long-term fol­low-ups.

“I re­mem­ber a young girl who in­jured her­self in an ac­ci­dent and suf­fered bad cuts on her gums. Amaz­ingly, there were no tooth frac­tures and the par­ents didn’t think it was im­por­tant enough to see a den­tist,” Dr Tahir shares.

“A few days later, the lac­er­ated soft tis­sues got in­fected. She ended up with fa­cial swelling and fever as a re­sult of the in­jury com­pli­ca­tion.

“By the time I saw her, she had de­vel­oped a bad in­fec­tion. The poor girl then had to be ad­mit­ted to the hospi­tal for in­tra­venous an­tibi­otics for the in­fec­tion.

“I en­cour­age par­ents to bring their child in for ex­am­i­na­tion with a den­tist after an in­jury, so that the child gets proper med­i­cal care.”

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