Once upon a time, you were carefree – then you had children. Only once you become a mother do you realize how much care they require to keep them safe. Young children love testing new limits.
Parent often goto considerable lengths to add safety features to doors and cupboards or secure furniture and TVs to the wall. Playing safety requires thinking about the surroundings a bit more carefully than usual.
Create A Safe Space
As you already know, not every room in your home is equally as safe for your little ones. The presence of wires, sharp-edged furniture can make most areas unsuitable for playtime. Setting up a special space gives your child freedom to explore without requiring watching your kid like a hawk.
In general it helps to keep the room as sparse as possible. Do a floor crawl on your hands and knees to see what a child might bump into. Toys tend to get thrown everywhere, so stock up on fabric boxes or containers where you can store the toys instead. Another great idea is foam mats that are incredibly soft and easy to clean as well. Babies just learning to walk can have fun toddling around on these surfaces.
Age Appropriate Toys
Children, toddlers or younger, are at a greater risk for choking on toys because their airways are smaller and they are fond of putting practically anything into their mouths. A good rule of thumb is not to let them play with toys smaller than a toilet paper tube.
Read the label on the product box and make sure that it is meant for your child. This doesn’t mean that your work is done yet, though. Always open the toy yourself and then check for any items that can prove to be harmful, poisonous, or small enough for them to swallow.
Teach Basic Safety Rules
Try to teach your child rules for safe play even when you don't think they can understand you. This increases the chance of them embodying such behaviors when they are older as well. You can start off with simple guidelines such as don’t play near the street, hold an adult's hand when crossing the street, put away toys after playing, don’t throw toys and so on. Doing this can help to decrease the chances that they will hurt themselves. Establishing simple habits such as tidying up together everyday pays off in the long run.
Inspect Unknown Areas
If you are off to the playground with your child, it is always best to perform a cursory playground inspection. The first thing that you should do is to look at the various surfaces around you – identify the areas where your child is most likely to get hurt. This includes asphalt and concrete. You should also check to make sure that there aren’t rusted nails or broken glass embedded in the ground either.
After this, it is a matter of looking at the equipment to ensure that they have been properly maintained are in good working order. Of course, even if everything looks to be fine, you should still keep an eye on your little one at all times.
Keep an Eye on the Weather
When headed outdoors, determine what the weather is like first. That way you can ensure your kids are dressed appropriately and that you are taking the right gear with you. On warm, sunny days make it a point to dress your kids in lightweight materials such as cotton.
Also, while it can be tempting to dress them in very little clothing, it is best to keep exposed skin to a minimum to avoid sun damage. After 6 months, whatever skin is visible should be liberally covered in sunscreen. Remember to keep reapplying the lotion as it will be wiped off. If possible, it is a good idea to get your kids to wear a cap or hat to keep the sun off of their face. Don’t forget to carry cool water and snacks with you wherever you go to make sure that they stay hydrated at all times.
During winter time, try to bundle them up in layers rather than just one bulky coat or jacket. This way, if they get too hot or sweaty while playing, you can simply remove a layer to make them more comfortable. Remember, stick with water-resistant materials for exterior layers if your little ones will be playing in the snow. In these temperatures as well, it is vital that your kids are properly hydrated.
Get Them Used To Wearing the Appropriate Safety Gear
Try as you might, you really can’t prevent your child from completely getting hurt. At some point or another, you will find yourself kissing a scraped knee or tending to a bruise.
What you can do, however, is to limit the risk of the more severe injuries such as the traumatic brain injury which is caused by various blows to the head.
For kids, one of the most common ways that something like this can happen is while they are moving at a fast pace. This includes cycling, skateboarding, playing softball and similar activities. This is why you should always make sure that the kids are wearing their safety gear – helmets, in particular. Start doing this while they are quite young so that they get used to always having this kind of gear on.
Play Sports Safely
While you may want to wrap your child up in bubble wrap, they need to be able to engage in physical activity and various sports. That doesn’t mean, however, that they can’t be safe while doing so.
Knowing a child's limits is helpful in deciding what sports to choose. From 3-5 years old, a child can run, jump, throw and has some balance, but vision is actually not mature, so following the direction and speed of moving objects is actually quite difficult. At this age, basic skills like running, tumbling, throwing, catching, or riding a tricycle are enough.
Pediatricians recommend entry level basketball and soccer after age 6. Make sure that they are a few years older before they pick up a lacrosse stick.
In addition to wearing the necessary gear, it is also important to teach your kids how to follow the proper safety guidelines. They should also be coached on how to use equipment properly so that they can’t injure themselves or any of their teammates (no swinging of the bat without looking, etc).
Explain the Importance of the Buddy System
When your children are a little older, they may want to do a bit more exploring. In order to instill a sense of independence in them, you may not want to hover around all the time.
Despite this, it is still imperative that your child never goes off on their own. Instead, talk to them about the importance of the buddy system. Make sure that even if they are only wandering a few feet away from your purview that they still take a friend with them. This way, even if one child falls, gets stuck, or hurts themselves in any way, there is someone else there to inform others. Playing safety comes in groups.
Instruct Older Kids on Important Tactics
There is always the chance that older kids will wander off by themselves. This is why it is important to prepare them for what should happen in the event that they get lost. So, have them memorize your full name and telephone number. Make sure that you practice these with them until you are confident that they will remember them. It is a good idea to quiz them on these facts every now and then.
You should also prepare your kids about what to do when dealing with strangers. Teach them that there are some strangers that are safe to approach. This includes police officers and families that are together.
You will also need to teach your child appropriate responses should they be approached by such individuals. Tell them to avoid taking food and drink from them and to never get into a vehicle with people that they don’t know. Communicate that they should quickly walk away from anyone that they don’t recognize, especially if they are feeling uncomfortable around the stranger.
Dealing with Bullies
Unfortunately sometimes what kids need to be most concerned about are their own peers. This is because you will find that bullies exist across all age groups. The best thing that you can do for your child is to explain how to deal with bullies. This includes saying ‘no’ when being forced into doing something and walking away from the bully. You should also let them know to inform you immediately of such incidents.
On playgrounds or where there are large groups of children, it is best to make your presence known. Bullies tend to pick on children that appear isolated so by paying attention to your little one, you may be able to ward them off.
Kids Playing In Water
Kids are born with a love for water and pools. Chlorinated pools are necessary for disinfection, but try to avoid chlorinated indoor pools where you can smell the chemicals as soon as you walk in. Ozone filtered pools are baby friendly, clean, and safe.
Never leave a child who can't swim unattended in water. Flotation devices or inner tubes are really helpful to help a young child have a safe and relaxing time.
Kids are born to play, run, and roam, and it's impossible to completely guard against anything that can happen. But a few safety precautions will help give you some piece of mind.
What are your favorite safety features for play?