For Your Child

Beware: Toddlers Toting Pacifier or Bottle

Children just learning to walk (or run) can sustain an injury if they fall with a pacifier, bottle, or sippy cup in hand. According to a nationwide survey, most injuries are cuts to the mouth.

Close-up photo of a toddler drinking from a sippy cup

"A lot of parents baby-proof their house but don't ever think about the possibility of an injury related to these products," says researcher Sarah Keim, Ph.D., at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

Dr. Keim and colleagues looked at data from the U.S. National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, a network of about 100 hospitals nationwide that record injuries in their emergency departments related to consumer products.

Mouth injuries

The system recorded 2,283 cases of bottle, pacifier and sippy-cup injuries in children younger than 3 years between 1991 and 2010. From that number, the researchers estimated that 45,398 injuries occurred nationwide during that time period, or 2,270 cases a year.

Most injuries involved children between 1 and 2 years old who had a bottle and fell and cut their mouth.

"This is right around the time that kids start to walk and run and aren't very good at it yet," Dr. Keim says.

Bottles led the list

Dr. Keim says it's not clear why more injuries were associated with bottles than with the other products. "There could be something about the products themselves that are potentially more dangerous or that children are using them more," she says.

Injuries related to pacifiers made up about 20 percent of cases. They occurred most often in children under 1 year old and led to bruising and dental damage. Sippy-cup injuries, which were most common in children older than 2 years, were more likely to affect the head, neck, and face.

The researchers also found that the rates of injuries with these products fell 41 percent over the time frame studied.

"A lot of this decrease was related to decreases in bottle use, so it could be because children are breastfeeding longer or are transitioning to sippy cups earlier," Dr. Keim says.

The study was published in the June issue of Pediatrics.

Always talk with your health care provider to find out more information.

Online Resources

(Our Organization is not responsible for the content of Internet sites.)

American Academy of Pediatrics - Home Safety: Here's How

American Academy of Pediatrics - Safety for Your Child: 6 to 12 Months

Pediatrics - Injuries Associated With Bottles, Pacifiers, and Sippy Cups in the United States, 1991-2010

July 2012

Tips on Toddler Safety

Now that your little one is walking, take these steps to keep him or her safe at home:

  • Install safety plugs in wall sockets.

  • Place soft adhesive bumpers on the corners of sharp-edged furniture.

  • Secure doors that lead to stairways, driveways, and storage areas.

  • Never leave a child alone in a bathtub, wading pool, or other body of water.

  • Lock medicines away immediately after use.

  • Lock kerosene, pesticides, and toxic cleaning products in a safe place.

  • Buy age-appropriate toys that are too large to swallow.

  • Don't leave your child alone around burning fireplaces, heaters, or other hot appliances.

  • Provide constant supervision.

  • Store dangerous tools and gardening equipment in a locked shed or cabinet.

  • Keep matches and cigarette lighters locked up and out of sight.

Always talk with your health care provider to find out more information.

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