Each year, more than a million children are taken to Accident and Emergency, their GP or an urgent care centre as a result of an accident, with around 40,000 children under five being admitted to hospital.

Of course children are naturally curious, so some minor accidents (such as trips and falls as your child learns to walk) are an inevitable part of life. But as a parent or carer, you’ll naturally want to look out for any potential risks and do your best to prevent accidents from happening.

Childhood accidents include falling, choking, head injuries, cuts, drowning, poisoning and ingestion or strangulation, and each stage in a child’s development presents different risks. Your child’s personal child health record (Red Book) has specific advice for each stage.

First aid

It’s a good idea to keep a well-stocked first aid kit in your home and in your car. Use a sturdy box which is large enough to put bottle of medicine in. The box should be easily identifiable as the first aid kit so that it’s handy for adults but kept out of the reach of young children. You can find a list of the essentials to include on NHS Choices.

If you want to attend a first aid course, you can find details on the British Red Cross website (or by calling 0845 527 7743) or the St John Ambulance website.

What to do if your baby’s unresponsive

A baby who’s not breathing is a frightening prospect, which is why St John Ambulance have made these videos to show you how to give a baby CPR.

Find further step-by-step advice here.


Babies and young children like to put things in their mouths, so could easily swallow small objects such as buttons, plastic toys or button batteries. Prevention is key, so get down to your child’s level to check what they can see and reach. You’ll also need to do this when you visit new places. And, once they’ve moved on to solid foods, make sure you supervise their eating, being careful to cut up foods like grapes so they don’t block the airway.

For what to do if your baby’s choking, there is another video from St John Ambulance:

The Child Prevention Accident Trust also has lots of advice to prevent choking and other accidents.

Button batteries

There’s been a lot in the media recently about the risks posed by button batteries – the small round batteries that are found in objects such as remote controls, smart watches and toys. Button batteries can be extremely dangerous for children if swallowed or inserted into an ear. Act fast, and follow this advice from Child Protection Accident Trust if you think your child has swallowed a button battery:

  • Take your child straight to the Accident and Emergency department at your local hospital or dial 999 for an ambulance
  • Tell the doctor there that you think your child has swallowed a button battery
  • If you have the battery packaging or the product powered by the battery, take it with you. This will help the doctor identify the type of battery and will make treatment easier
  • Don’t let your child eat or drink anything
  • Don’t make them sick
  • Trust your instincts and act fast – do not wait to see if any symptoms develop

Useful links

Page last reviewed: 23-10-2017

Next review due: 23-10-2020