As parents, we constantly strive to provide the safest environment for our little ones. We baby-proof our homes, purchase the safest toys, equipment, and food, and keep a watchful eye over them as best we can. But when our child is out of our care and is instead being watched over by a babysitter or daycare facility staff, we have no choice but to relinquish our direct protection of them. In most cases, our babies are cared for safely and appropriately. But sometimes, things can go wrong in ways we might not expect.
Our firm has seen a growing number of child neglect and injury cases involving diaper changing tables, most often occurring within daycare facilities. As such, it’s important to understand what the risks revolving around this piece of equipment can be, how injuries can happen, and how your child’s daycare staff should be working to prevent them.
The Hidden Dangers of Changing Tables
One of the most significant dangers associated with diaper changing tables is the risk of falls. These tables are typically elevated off the ground to a height of several feet, which makes things much easier for moms, dads, and childcare staff when it comes to changing diapers, but it can also make things more dangerous for babies. Babies are prone to fall accidents because they are naturally curious, and so can easily roll over or wriggle their way off the table when left unattended, even for just a moment.
Another danger lies in the quality and sturdiness of the changing table itself. Some changing tables may not be as stable as they appear, and a wobbly or flimsy table can lead to accidents. If the table collapses or tilts while your baby is on it, they could suffer injuries. While you may know how new your changing table is or the quality with which it’s been constructed, you might not know how old or worn out the changing table at the daycare is. You might not even know if they’re actually using a table or surface that’s specifically meant or able to support a baby, so it’s something you absolutely want to check on.
Most changing tables also come equipped with storage shelves or compartments to hold diapers, wipes, and other essentials. If these items aren’t properly secured or if there are small, dangerous objects nearby that are within reach, your baby could grab them and put them in their mouth, leading to something like a chemical hazard or choking hazard. Additionally, sharp or heavy objects could fall from the table or from nearby the table, causing injury.
When it all comes down to it, the biggest danger is inattention or negligence. Accidents always have the potential to happen, but so many of them can be prevented or their effects lessened if the caretaker is just paying close enough attention to the baby to keep accidents at bay. But often, daycare facilities are overcrowded and understaffed, which means a caretaker may become easily distracted and leave your baby in a potentially dangerous situation atop a changing table.
Potential Injuries to Babies
Understanding the potential injuries that can result from diaper-changing table accidents is crucial for not only appreciating the gravity of the issue but also for being able to recognize what may have occurred if it’s reported that your baby suffered an injury or if after picking up your baby from daycare, something doesn’t seem to be quite right with them.
Falls from changing tables can result in head injuries, ranging from minor bumps and bruises to more severe concussions or even traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). A TBI is a worst-case scenario, but babies may be more prone to suffering them depending on their age, as their skull may still be developing, and so can’t do as effective of a job protecting their brain. Serious head injuries can lead to long-term cognitive or developmental problems and can even present in other physical ways, such as loss of sense of motor function. Brain injuries may also not immediately present themselves, making them even more dangerous because they aren’t treated as soon as possible. So if you’re told your baby fell off a table and hit their head, take them to see a doctor, even if it doesn’t seem like anything is wrong.
The impact of a diaper changing station fall can cause injury just about anywhere on a baby’s body, depending on how they fall. Fractures in your baby’s bones in their arms, legs, or collarbones are most commonly associated with falls from heights, and though your baby’s young body may heal quickly, a bad break can still lead to immense pain and a tough recovery or even some kind of permanent disability. Depending on how safe the table and the objects surrounding it are, a fall may also come with severe lacerations if there are sharp objects or corners around, resulting in potentially dangerous blood loss or infection.
Finally, choking hazards are a major issue with babies in just about any daycare scenario, not just atop a changing table. Babies naturally put everything they can get their hands on in their mouths first, so access to small objects within reach can pose choking hazards if they swallow it, leading to a potentially immediately life-threatening situation.
Tips to Prevent Diaper Changing Table Accidents
Practical safety tips are key for keeping your baby safe during diaper changes. So don’t be afraid to be the parent who either goes over these steps with your babysitter or thoroughly checks out the daycare facility where you’ll be leaving your child to make sure they’re following all the safety protocols required of them:
- Never leave the baby unattended. This is the most critical rule. Always keep one hand on your baby during the entire diaper-changing process. If you need something out of reach, make sure to bring it to the changing table before you start. Otherwise, take the baby with you to retrieve it.
- Choose a stable table. When purchasing a changing table, ensure it’s sturdy and well-constructed. It should have a wide base for stability and strong support for the changing surface.
- Secure hazardous items. Keep all supplies, such as diapers, wipes, and creams, well out of your baby’s reach. Ensure that any shelves or compartments on the table are securely attached and cannot be easily pulled down.
- Clear the area. Keep the immediate area around the changing table clear of any potential hazards. Remove small objects, sharp items, or heavy items that could fall and harm your baby.
- Stay organized. Being organized during diaper changes can help minimize distractions and reduce the risk of accidents. Have everything you need within arm’s reach before you start changing your baby.
- Learn infant CPR. It’s essential for parents and caregivers to know infant CPR in case of emergencies. Being prepared for the worst can make a significant difference in the outcome of an accident.
Diaper changing tables may seem harmless, but they can quickly become a source of danger for your baby if not used with caution, and any daycare facility or caregiver you employ should be made to know that if they don’t already. You can help minimize the risks and ensure that diaper changes are safe and stress-free by being proactive before an accident has a chance to happen. But if the worst should occur, know the signs and understand that you may have options to pursue legal action against the negligent party.
As a parent, you never want to think about the possibility of your child getting hurt. It’s especially devastating when it happens due to the negligence of others. If your child has been injured in a fall from a diaper changing station at a daycare, you need a daycare injury lawyer to help you seek justice. At Finney Injury Law, our experienced attorneys are here to assist you every step of the way. We understand how stressful and overwhelming this situation can be, and we’re committed to helping you get the compensation your family deserves. If you’re in the St. Louis area, give us a call at 314-293-4222, and let us take care of you.
Posted Under: Daycare Injuries