Sometimes toddlers seem to be on a mission to get themselves into scrapes. Here’s how to protect them from everyday dangers and keep them safe.
Keeping your toddler safe: at home
- As your child starts to grow, walk and become more adventurous a great tip is to get down on your hands and knees and look at your home through a child’s eyes. What can they reach? What dangerous things will little fingers be able to touch? And what will attract curious eyes? Identify the danger, be it power sockets or kitchen cupboards full of cleaning products and then set about making them toddler-proof.
- Brush up on your food hygiene rules for the sake of your toddlers. Keep raw and cooked food apart, hot wash all your chopping boards, crockery and cutlery and make sure you’ve heated food long enough to avoid harmful bacteria multiplying, but not so long that your toddler ends up with a burned mouth. It’s best to check the middle of the food to get an accurate temperature. And beware of your toddler choking on finger food too. Never leave them alone while they are eating.
- Don’t mix toys between children of different ages. Toddlers are ok with some toys that are not ok for babies because of the small pieces and choking hazards they are made up of. Clear out your toy box regularly and check for broken and damaged bits and pieces.
- No matter how family-friendly your pet is, don’t assume you can leave your toddler alone with animals. Teach your little one to treat your pet with respect – no eye poking or tail pulling – and be aware that toddlers are magnetically drawn to litter trays and feeding bowls so keep them out of reach.
- Always stay by your toddler at bathtime, even if they are already having swimming lessons and something in your head says she’ll be fine – it takes just 20 seconds and 5cm of water for a toddler to drown. If you need to get something outside of the bathroom, lift your little one out of the bath and take her with you. This may seem annoying but it is the only safe option.
Keeping your toddler safe: near water
- Toddlers and water don’t safely mix. In Australia last year 33 children under the age of four died through drowning – a child can drown in 5cm of water. Supervise them at all times, teach them how to swim as soon as possible and learn how to resuscitate. Find swimming lessons in your area at www.swimaustralia.org.au
- If you have a pool at home ensure your pool fence, gate and lock are all working properly. Never prop the gate open or leave anything around, such as flowerpots or chairs, which can make a handy toddler-sized step to climb over.
- Don’t be tempted to leave them for a second – even if it is to answer the phone. If you leave the pool, always take your child with you.
Keeping your toddler safe: out and about
- Don’t leave home without a bottle of water (to prevent dehydration), a hat (to prevent sunstroke) and sunscreen (to keep them safe in the sun). Little people feel the effects of the sun far quicker than adults, so keep the liquids and the sunscreen topped up and stay in the shade as much as possible during the hottest hours of the day, from 11am-3pm.
- Make sure your car seat is fitted correctly. If your toddler likes to unbuckle their belt, invest in a car seat buckle cover to stop them in their tracks and think about an additional wide-angle rear view mirror so you can keep an eye on what’s going on in the back seat.
- Fasten the straps in the supermarket trolley – and don’t be tempted to let them ride inside or hang on the outside if you want to prevent bumps and bruises.
- A toddler tastes first and asks questions later and plants can be tempting, so keep an eye out in the garden or at the park for what Little Miss Inquisitive is about to put in her mouth.
- Few toddlers can resist patting a dog tied up outside the shops, so teach them to always ask the owner first and, if they’re given permission, to hold out their hands with their fingers tucked away – in a fist – so the puppy can sniff them in safety.