In this article:
- Falling Hazards
- Choking Hazards
- Burn Hazards
- Medical and Chemical Hazards
- Car Safety
- Water Play Safety
- Outdoor Play Safety
- Fire Safety
- Pet Safety
Easy and Practical Safety Tips for Kids
1. Falling Hazards
Toddlers and pre-schoolers are still in the process of developing their gross motor skills. They learn to navigate through the world by continuously testing what they can and can’t do. This means your little daredevil is prone to falling and injury.
While it’s impossible to childproof every single thing, here are some things you can do in your home to avoid major bumps and bruises:
- If you don’t want your child entering a certain room, lock the doors. You’d be surprised to see how quickly a two-year-old can learn how to work a doorknob.
- Install safety gates at the bottom and the top of the stairs.
- Keep windows locked and install window guards to keep your child from falling out of them.
- Stay close to your child when they’re seated in a grocery cart. Make sure to fasten the seat belt securely.
- If you have rugs at home, place skid-proof mats under them.
- Place rugs and skid-proof mats in areas that regularly become wet such as the kitchen or bathroom.
Keep in mind that no amount of childproofing can take the place of the watchful eyes of a parent. It’s important to give them the freedom to play and explore, but try to be alert and near enough, so you can respond quickly in case they get into an accident.
2. Choking Hazards
Toddlers and pre-schoolers learn about the world through their senses and that includes their sense of taste. It’s common for babies, toddlers, and even pre-schoolers to put things in their mouths — whether or not it’s edible. That’s why choking is a safety issue at this age.
Here are some things you can do to keep your kids safe:
- Keep small items out of your child’s reach. Things like coins, pins, and pebbles are possible choking hazards.
- Until you are sure your child can chew their food well, this usually happens when they’re around 4 years old, try to restrict foods that can block their airways. Foods that usually cause kids to choke are whole hotdogs, grapes, raw carrot sticks, peanuts, peanut butter, hard candy, and marshmallows. If you plan on feeding these to kids under 4, make sure to cut them up in small, bite-sized pieces first.
- Make sure your child is sitting upright when you are feeding them. It’s best to use a high chair for the first few years.
- Let your child play with age-appropriate toys. Most toys will have an age range recommendation indicated in the packaging. There are some toys with components small enough to be swallowed by your toddler or pre-schooler and the age recommendation is a useful guide to avoid these.
Children tend to notice the things we take for granted. There may be some things you forget to keep out of their reach.
Always pay attention to what your child is playing with to avoid choking incidents. If your child accidentally chokes on something, be ready to apply the appropriate first aid techniques or seek emergency medical intervention.
3. Burn Hazards
Kids are always curious about what mom is doing. Sometimes, this means little hands touch things they’re not supposed to, like stoves or kettles. Here are a few toddler safety tips to avoid burns:
- Make sure your child is in a secure place when you are cooking, ironing, or doing any chore involving heat. If it’s possible, have someone else watch them while you finish these chores.
- Unplug your devices and appliances when you’re done with them.
- In the kitchen, make sure the cooking tools are placed securely on tables and out of your child’s reach.
- When you’re cooking, make sure the pan handles are facing inwards and not hovering over the edge.
- Avoid drinking hot beverages while you’re holding your child. They may become curious about what you’re drinking and quickly grab it from you.
- Help your child understand there are “no zones” in your home. This means they are not allowed in certain areas. For instance, the stove, radiator, or fireplace can be a “no zone.”
- Test foods before feeding them to your child to make sure it isn’t too hot.
Most first-degree burns can be treated at home. If you suspect your child has a second- or third-degree burn, seek emergency medical care immediately.
4. Medical and Chemical Hazards
Toddlers and pre-schoolers may become curious about the medicine mom eats or the cleaning products she uses. Their curiosity may lead them to play with them or even put them in their mouth. This can be very dangerous and may have serious health implications.
Here are a few things you can do to avoid this:
- Never call medicine candy. This will confuse your child and make them think it’s OK to eat it.
- Store medicine properly and keep them out of your child’s reach.
- Lock cabinets or drawers containing your household cleaning products.
- Avoid using harsh cleaning products when your toddler or pre-schooler is around. You can also consider using baby-friendly, organic, and non-toxic cleaning products.
- Put Poison Control on your speed dial or have the number clearly visible by your phone.
Contact poison control or seek emergency medical care immediately if you think your child has accidentally ingested a cleaning product or unprescribed medicine.
5. Car Safety
No matter how near or far the destination, always secure your toddler/pre-schooler in their car seat. Here are some things you can do to ensure your child’s safety in a car seat:
- Make sure the harness is snug. There should be no space between your child and the seat belt.
- Harness straps should always be flat and not twisted.
- If you can pinch the harness when it’s already buckled, that means it’s too loose. You will need to tighten the seat belt.
- Remove bulky clothing or blankets that may form a gap between your child and the harness. You can consider using a car seat ready coat, like the Quimby Coat.
Generally, it’s recommended children use car seats until they’re over 40 lbs. Rear-facing car seats are usually recommended until the child is two years old or over 20 lbs. After that, they can start using forward-facing car seats.
6. Water Play Safety
Little tots love water! Playing in water is a great sensory activity and is a great form of exercise. Make sure to follow these safety tips so your little one can keep swimming:
- Teach your child to swim or take them to lessons. Children can start swimming as early as 6 months old.
- Always make sure there’s an adult supervising any kind of water play or swimming activity. Do not let your child swim alone.
- Do not allow your child to swim in fast-moving water (ex: canals or rapids).
- If your child is on a boat, always make sure they have a life vest on.
- When swimming in natural bodies of water, have your child wear some kind of foot protection (ex: aqua socks). There can be sharp rocks, trash, or broken glass.
- Always check with the lifeguard or local authorities to determine if it’s safe to swim in natural bodies of water like beaches or lakes.
- Apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen or sunblock all over your child before allowing them to swim outdoors. Dermatologists recommend a minimum of SPF 30 applied every 1.5 hours.
- Remind your toddler/pre-schooler to avoid drinking or swallowing the water they are playing with or swimming in.
- If your toddler isn’t potty trained, use swimming diapers instead of regular ones. Change the swimming diapers as often as you would change a regular diaper.
After your child spends a fun day at the beach or in the pool, make sure to give them a bath with soap and shampoo to wash off all the possible chemicals or pollution they may have been exposed to.
7. Outdoor Play Safety
Parks and playgrounds are a great place for kids to play and meet new friends. Here are some things you can do to keep them safe when they’re playing outside:
- Avoid playing in the streets. Toddlers/preschoolers are small and drivers can overlook them.
- Don’t allow your toddler/pre-schooler to cross the street without you or another adult. Remind them to hold your hand and look both ways before crossing.
- Before letting your child play in the playground/park, do a quick scan. Make sure there isn’t anything dangerous in the area (ex: broken glass).
- Remind your child about playground safety rules such as no pushing, waiting their turn, and using the playground equipment properly.
- Always carry some water with you to keep your child from getting dehydrated while they play.
- Remind your child to wash their hands after they play.
Little kids are still learning to control their impulses and regulate their own behavior, so they’ll need mom or dad nearby to remind them of the rules when they forget.
8. Fire Safety
Household fires are especially frightening if you have a young child at home. Here are some things you can do to avoid fires:
- Turn off and unplug appliances when they aren’t in use.
- Keep matches, curling irons, candles, and lighters out of your child’s reach.
- Make sure all of the smoke detectors are working. Check the battery regularly and change them once a year.
- Learn how to use a fire extinguisher and keep them in key areas of your home.
Pre-school aged children can benefit from practicing fire drills at home. You can show your pre-schooler where the fire escapes are.
9. Pet Safety
Many households have pets who are as good as family. And even if you don’t have a pet, you’re bound to encounter them in other homes. Here are a few things you can do to keep your child safe as they interact with pets:
- Remind your child to never tease animals, especially when you’re unsure of the animal’s temperament.
- Tell them that animal ears and tails are off-limits. Toddlers have the tendency to pull these out of curiosity.
- Do not allow your child to play with animals they don’t know (ex: a stray cat or dog).
- Show your child how they can touch the animals without hurting them. It might be best if you demonstrate it before allowing them to try. You can also guide their hands when they do it for the first time.
- Tell your kids not to bother animals when they are sleeping or eating.
- Remind your kids to wait for their pet to let go of a toy before taking it. Do not let them take the toy if it is still in the animal’s mouth.
- Always wash their hands after they play with pets.
If you have a pet at home, make sure your pet’s vaccinations are up-to-date and they are brought to the vet regularly.
Check out this video from SingHealth for some quick tips to keep your child safe:
Toddlers and pre-schoolers will naturally test their limits. Some people believe experience is the best teacher, but learning shouldn’t happen at the expense of safety. These health and safety tips can help you set the appropriate boundaries for your child.
What are the safety tips you practice that you can recommend to other moms? Let us know in the comments section.
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