Kids seem to have a knack for getting into trouble – it’s all part of figuring out their world. Toddlers are especially prone to accidents as they learn to walk and are able to explore more of their environment, which includes taste testing just about everything.
Many of us are either just starting our families or becoming grandparents for the first time. As adults, there are simple ways that we can make a toddler’s world a little safer, whether they are living in our home or just visiting:
- When cooking, keep any pots and pans on the stovetop out of reach by placing them on the back burner and turning handles inward. (Pro tip: make a habit of checking the knobs regularly, especially if you have a gas stove).
- Store sharp items like knives and scissors well out of reach or in a locked cupboard or drawer.
- Never leave hot beverages out where a toddler could grab them or tip them over.
- Keep cleaning supplies in a locked cupboard and in their original containers so they can be identified in case of accidental ingestion.
- Keep medicines, cleaning supplies, and sharp objects (shaving tools, tweezers, nail clippers) in a locked drawer or cupboard, and in their original containers. Never rely solely on childproof packaging to keep a toddler out.
- Put a lock on the toilet lid. Children are top-heavy and can drown in less than 2 inches of water (some of them also like to dip their toothbrushes in toilet water when you’re not looking.)
- Turn your water heater thermostat down to 120 degrees to avoid unintentional scalding.
- Place a non-slip mat in the bathtub to help prevent and pad falls. Also consider a spout cover, like this cute little guy.
- Unplug hair dryers, curling irons, and straighteners when you’re finished using them. Make sure they are out of reach while they’re still hot, and don’t let cords dangle off the counter.
Around the House
- Cover easy-to-reach wall outlets and power strips with protective covers – there are even options that prevent toddlers from unplugging devices.
- Secure all tippable furniture (bookcases, shelves, etc.) with brackets and anchors. Store heavier items lower to the ground, and save fragile items for higher spots that can’t be reached.
- Install safety gates at the top and bottom of all stairs, at least until your toddler is confident with navigating stairs. Gates at the top should be mounted to the door frame instead of held in place with expanding pressure bars.
- Place furniture away from high windows and keep windows locked. A screen isn’t strong enough to keep a child from falling.
- Don’t leave looped window blind cords hanging. Better yet, try cordless blinds.
- Put away items that are small enough to choke on – a young child’s trachea is only about the size of a cherry pit – and always keep magnets and batteries far away. Rule of thumb: if an item can fit through a toilet paper tube, it’s not safe for a toddler to have.
- Keep exterior doors locked, but make sure they can be easily opened by an adult in case of an emergency.
- Empty kiddie pools after use. Not only is a pool a drowning hazard for toddlers, but it also makes an excellent breeding ground for bacteria and insects. Cover or fence off other water features in the yard, too.
- Avoid pea gravel! It’s the perfect choking size for young children.
- Especially during fall months, check your yard for mushrooms before outdoor playtime. They can be consumed quickly and easily and only experts are able to tell toxic from nontoxic wild mushrooms.
- Avoid planting poisonous or prickly plants and plants that bear small fruits and berries (another choking hazard).
- Ensure that play structures are anchored and in good repair, and that they are placed over a soft surface like grass.
- Store away BBQ tools, lawn and garden tools, and herbicides/insecticides/fertilizer in the garage or in a locked shed.
Please remember that safety measures are never 100% effective. Supervise small children at all times.