Does your toddler get into everything? Do you feel like you can barely look away and your child is trying to do something dangerous? Truth is, toddlers are curious and love to explore which is very normal for their age. I encourage fostering of this curiosity with the caveat that taking safety precautions along the way is a must. Drowning is the most common cause of death from injury for children ages 1-4. Falls are the most common cause of nonfatal injuries for children 1-19 yo. So what can you do to keep your littles safe during this challenging and fun stage of development? Note: some of these apply to infants as well.
First and foremost remember to child proof not only your home but grandma’s house, your babysitter’s or anywhere the child spends a lot of time. The usual things we think of are outlet covers, baby gates and staircase gates. While these are definitely important measures, think beyond these. Here are some things that you can do to keep your kiddo safe:
bolt your dressers to the wall, place all wires out of reach (TVs, lamps, heavy objects can fall on toddlers), be sure that there aren’t any blinds with cords hanging in reach of your toddler, check toys for any small pieces and longer strings/ cords, cover the corners of furniture/fireplaces with foamlike cushioning, set your hot water heater to no more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit to minimize the risk of burns, place all medications out of reach including vitamins, cleaning agents as well, make sure that they wear a helmet with any bicycle riding even if a tricycle ( I have seen kids fall off a tricycle and hit their head on a rock), cut all food up very small especially grapes, hot dogs and any meat, avoid any hard candy and popcorn, keep plastic bags out of reach (be aware of what your throw in the garbage - keep garbage pails out of reach), keep guns out of reach/unloaded/locked up with ammunition locked elsewhere, install and check your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms monthly, never leave your child unattended near or in water (drownings can occur in just 1 inch of water), fence in pools with self- latching gates/ at least 4 feet high and around all four sides, do not rely on floaties to keep your child safe - keep them within arm’s length and keep your eyes on them at all times (no texting), keep bathroom doors closed and place safety latches on toilet bowl covers, keep hot liquids out of reach and pot handles turned in, keeping kids out of kitchen while cooking if possible, place nonslip rubber mats on bathtub floors to avoid falls, do not use any moving walkers (they can cause lots of injuries from broken bones to concussions, falls down staircases are common and can be fatal), be aware of climbing toddlers, know the seatbelt laws for your state and buckle with every trip, do not leave your car unlocked or running unless you are in it and lastly do not leave your child alone with a cat or dog or newborn sibling:)
This is an exhaustive list but not a complete one. I can add to the list almost daily as I treat kids with injuries every workday. Your pediatrician should be counseling you about some of these topics at well visits but we can only review a few things due to time constraints. Inform yourself, ask questions and be diligent. It is our job to protect our babies. Let’s do a great job.