As an infant grows in mobility, parents need to provide a safe environment to ensure their safety. As the trauma program manager at Dayton Children’s, I all-too-often see what can happen to curious toddlers.
When toddler-proofing your home, you have to envision your surroundings through the eyes of your child. If you were their size, what would be within your reach or small enough to fit into your mouth?
Toddlers, who are just starting to crawl or maybe even walk, are curious about their surroundings and want to explore everything. Being able to move on their own, toddlers now have access to objects that were once out of their reach. It’s easy for a child to get in harm’s way in the split-second you turn your head, making it crucial to place them in a play area that has already been secured.
Keep your child safe around the house with these safety tips:
- Window safety: Do not rely on screens to prevent your child from falling through a window. Move all furniture away from windows so children cannot directly crawl onto sills.
- Stair safety: Place a guard on banisters and railings if your child can fit through the rails. Teach your toddler how to go down stairs with their tummy against the stairs— remember your child’s only example is you going down face forward.
- Furniture safety: Attach protective padding or other specially designed covers to corners of coffee tables, furniture, and countertops with sharp edges. Affix all top heavy furniture, including flat screen televisions, to the wall to avoid tip-overs.
- Falling object safety: Remove tablecloths and keep cords or other dangling objects out of reach.
- Fall safety: Do not keep loose rugs on the floor – put specially designed pads under rugs to hold them securely to the floor’s surface. Clean up any spills around the home immediately and apply nonskid strips to the bottoms of bathtubs. Never place a car seat or infant chair on a countertop or table.
Not only is it important to provide a soft, padded area for children to play, but to give them age-appropriate toys. Many injuries occur because toddlers have access to toys that are made for older children. The play style of toddlers is typically rougher than older children, making them more likely to use a toy incorrectly or even break it, leaving jagged or small pieces that pose a choking hazard.
Safe toys should:
- Be appropriate for a child’s age and development level. Read packaging for this information.
- Be sturdy enough to withstand pulling and twisting.
- Have securely attached parts and pieces.
- Be large enough not to become lodged in a child’s mouth or throat.
- Not have long cords or strings which could strangle a child.
- Not have thin enough plastic to break and cut the child.
- Not include marbles, coins, balls or games with balls that are 1.75 inches (4.4 centimeters) in diameter or less, because they could be a choking hazard.
And finally, don’t forget to store toys correctly. Store toys for older children, those typically with smaller parts, separately from toys for infants and toddlers. Together, with our partners at Kohl’s Cares, we can keep kids safe at play!
Lisa Schwing, RN, has been the trauma manager at the Soin Pediatric Trauma and Emergency Center for 8 years. Prior to that, Schwing worked at Dayton Children’s for 7 years as the emergency department resource educator. She has 17 years of adult emergency department experience; working at St. Elizabeth Medical Center and Miami Valley Hospital emergency departments. Schwing attended Miami Valley Hospital School of Nursing. She is actively involved in Safe Kids Greater Dayton, a local organization dedicated to prevention childhood injuries and is a certified child passenger safety technician.