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Preventing Strangulation and Entrapment

Kids can get things caught around their neck (strangulation) or get their head or limbs stuck (entrapped) in unexpected ways. Knowing the risks will help you keep your child safe.

What Can Help Protect Kids From Strangulation?

Safe clothing:

  • Don't put necklaces or headbands on your baby.
  • Don't dress young kids in clothes with drawstrings, which can get caught during play or sleep. Cut drawstrings out of your baby or young child's hoods, jackets, and waistbands. Cut strings off mittens.
  • Remove your infant's bib before naptime and bedtime.
  • Don't tie a pacifier around your baby's neck or clip it to your baby's clothing with a ribbon or piece of string.

In a baby's room:

  • Keep mobiles out of your baby's reach. Remove them from the crib when your child can push to their hands and knees or is about 5 months. Clip strings or ribbons off crib toys.
  • Don't hang diaper bags or purses on cribs.
  • Place the crib or child's bed, far from window blinds or curtains.

In the home:

  • Secure power, phone, and cable wires so they aren't dangling or loose.
  • Make sure baby gates can't trap a child's head.
  • Tie all window blinds and drapery cords up high out of reach, or cut the ends and attach safety tassels. Keep stools, toys, and furniture away from windows to limit access to cords. Cordless window shades are also available.

What Can Help Protect Kids From Getting Trapped?

To protect kids from getting their head or limbs trapped:

  • Always watch when your baby is in a stroller. Babies can slide down and trap their head.
  • Choose a toy chest without a lid.
  • Don't use cribs with cutouts in the headboard or footboard.
  • Make sure the crib mattress is the right size and fits snugly in the crib. This keeps a baby from getting caught between the mattress and the crib sides.
  • Don't put infants to sleep on adult beds or couches, where they can get stuck in soft surfaces.
  • Don't use bumper pads in cribs because they can trap kids against the side of the crib.
  • Make sure crib slats are no more than 2-3/8 inches (6 centimeters) apart. Anything wider can trap a child's head.
  • Guard rails on bunk beds or toddler beds should have only a narrow space between the rail and the mattress. Do not allow kids younger than 6 to sleep on a bunk bed.

What Else Should I Know?

If you're expecting a baby or already have a child, it's a good idea to:

  • Childproof your home. Get down on your hands and knees in every room of your home for a kid's-eye view. Remove or lock away items that could be dangerous.
  • Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the age-appropriate Heimlich maneuver so you are ready in case of emergency.

Even with these precautions in place, kids still can get hurt and accidents do happen. But being prepared will help you to act quickly and confidently if an emergency happens.

Reviewed by: Yamini Durani, MD
Date Reviewed: Jul 1, 2023

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