Safeguarding non-mobile babies


Safeguarding Social Worker Beverley McWilliams provides guidance to suppport for clinicians when considering making safeguarding referrals for non-mobile babies. 

What are some of the physical stages of a baby’s development up to the age of 1 years old?
For the first few months of a baby’s life they will be happy lying on their back.
From four to five months old, they will start to try and roll onto their body/front by themselves.
Between six to nine months a baby’s arms and legs should have developed strong enough for them roll over without assistance.

Most babies will start to crawl from six to ten months old. They will start by rolling onto their stomach, then pushing themselves along using their arms and feet and sometimes shuffling along on their bottom for short distances. Babies will then progress to pushing themselves up on all fours and crawling.

From the ages of between six to eight months a baby will be able to stand up, holding on to an adult  or furniture, from eight to ten months a baby is able to pull themselves up to a standing position and from nine months old a baby is able to stand up for two seconds.

From ten months onwards a baby will be able to stand on their own, they will then move onto what is known as ‘cruising’, they are beginning test their walking skills by holding an adult’s hand or holding onto furniture.
Before a baby or infant reaches 1 years old or up to 18 months they will normally start to walk independently for short distances.

What is the definition of a Non-mobile baby?
– is defined as less than 12 months old and at 1 years old they would be classed as an infant.
(Note. A child over 12 months of age might be considered as non-mobiles if they were developmentally delayed or disabled)

Mobile – a baby who can crawl, pull themselves up to stand, ‘cruise’ around furniture or is toddling.

Non-mobile – this a baby who cannot do any of the above. Babies that can roll are classed as non-mobile. When considering a safeguarding concern for a baby, crew should take into account their reported age and development then, dependant on the severity of the injury, if the account given is plausible.

Injury – bruises, fractures, burns/scalds, eye injuries (e.g. corneal abrasion, bleeding from the nose or mouth, bumps to the head), these would constitute a safeguarding concern. Small scratches to the face, ears, arms, or legs might have been self-inflicted by the baby.

Are all marks on a baby’s body a safeguarding concern?
Blue spots birth marks (‘Mongolian blue spot’) – these are not always present at birth and can develop up to 3 months old. The marks are often flat and blue-grey. They typically can be found on the buttocks or lower back of a baby, but may also be found on the arms or legs. A GP Midwife or Health Visitor should have recorded this information in the ‘My personal child health record’ (Red Book).  

Birthmarks – these are coloured marks on the skin that are present at birth or soon afterwards. They can be flat, red, pink, or brown in colour; however, the pigmentation can be darker in colour and is dependent on the ethnicity of the baby. Birth marks are often located anywhere on the body i.e. arms, legs, abdomen, face, and head.

What information will support a safeguarding referral to SPOC for a Non-mobile baby?
Clinicians attending to an incident where there is a safeguarding concern for a non-mobile baby, may be in a unique position to obtain the first account of how the injury was caused, which is important to  assist a Paediatrician obtaining a timeline of the injury. The questions in the Safeguarding pathway will assist the referrer in sharing information to support their concerns and in turn can assist in the understanding of the timeline of a child’s injuries.

Here are some examples of the safeguarding questions:

  • When or where did the incident occur?
  • Describe the injury (location and size), was the child supervised at the time of the injury and if yes, by who?  
  • What was the explanation given by an adult in relation to the incident?
  • Is there someone that you suspect has caused or allowed the abuse or neglect? 

The information gathered as part of Paramedic’s referral can also assist the Police and Social Workers to put in place safeguarding measures or in some cases this information can be used as evidence to support a prosecution.   


Early Years Matters 2020

Healthline 2005 – 2020

Social Care Institute for Excellence



Published 23rd June 2020



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