Toddlers Aim High

Study shows 12-month-olds can reach kitchen counters

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

Most toddlers can reach as high as a kitchen countertop, putting them at risk for severe burns from hot liquids.

The finding arrives courtesy of research presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition in San Francisco.

In the study, "How Far Toddlers Can Reach onto a Standard Kitchen Countertop," investigators and parents urged children, ages 12 to 23 months, to reach for a toy phone atop a standard, 36-inch countertop at a pediatric clinic. The children were of various weights and heights; some wore shoes, some did not.

Of the 54 children who participated, 41 (76 percent) could reach at least some distance, with many of the children able to reach as far as eight inches onto the countertop, which was "much farther than anticipated," said lead study author David Allasio, MSW, LMSW, Children's Hospital of Michigan. Many of the younger children were able to reach the countertop and phone by pushing up onto their tip-toes – a milestone not expected until age 22 months.

Children who pull down a cup of hot liquid such as coffee or tea can sustain serious burns requiring hospital admission.

"Findings from the research are important as it will help us reduce pain, financial costs and parental distress associated with scald-related burns to children, and the information can be used to better educate parents," said Allasio.

Parents participating in the study were surprised by the findings, and subsequently urged to place hot and potentially dangerous liquids and objects toward the back of the countertop, closest to the backsplash and wall.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
October 4, 2010
Last Updated:
October 4, 2010