Statement of purpose Most research exploring parental safety practices has focused on parents of children who are two years and older. Surprisingly little is known about home safety practices used for infants, and more specifically how these may change following the transition across developmental milestones. The aim of the study was to identify social-cognitive factors that affect home safety practices parents’ may use as precautionary measures to prevent six types of common injuries to infants (burns, cuts, drowning, falls, poisoning, and strangulation/suffocation/choking), and to determine if these may vary depending on an infant’s level of motor development.
Methods Infants were recruited when they were pre-mobile (i.e., sitting independently) and then tracked until they could walk independently (i.e., taking at least three steps). A structured interview was conducted with parents on two separate occasions, when the infant was pre-mobile and again when they were mobile, to examine participants’ use of home safety practices. The interview requested that parents indicate which of 17 in-home safety practices they implement as a precautionary measure to prevent six types of common childhood injuries, and follow-up ratings assessed the social-cognitive factors (severity, benefit, effort, vulnerability, social norms) that motivated each practice.
Results Results indicated that parent’s engagement in safety precautions varied significantly with mobility level and as a function of injury type. In addition, the social-cognitive factors that influence parental home safety practices differ for each type of injury and vary with the child’s level of mobility development.
Significance Thus, intervention programs that aim to reduce different types of injury by promoting the use of parent safety practices will need to target varied social-cognitive factors. It will be important to structure prevention strategies around a child’s level of motor-development and to consider the social-cognitive factors related to particular types of injury and their perceived severity.