During the baby’s first year, you made sure her world was a safe place. Back then, her world was mostly the space inside your home. But now her world is growing. Soon your baby will be exploring the outdoors and playing with other children. This is exactly what she should be doing. Play is healthy! In fact, play is child’s work. Through play she is learning about her world and other children. Play exercises the muscles and the mind. The less TV the better. Involve your child in active games. Throwing a ball. Stacking blocks. Walking with you around the block. Anything active.
Of course, as parents you have to make sure the new world your child is exploring is safe, too. You can’t control everything, but there are some key things you can do:
- Most injuries on playgrounds or in backyards are due to falls. So make sure that wherever your child plays there is sand, wood clips, or approved rubber matting under outdoor play equipment.
- Check the equipment to be sure the wood and surfaces are smooth. Also make sure there are no nails or hooks that stick out.
- Swings are made for children ages five and older. Younger children should using swing seats.
- Make sure there are barricades and fences around pools. Check to see that every gate works and snaps shut automatically. You really cannot leave a child alone around water. Drowning happens in seconds, not minutes. Dangerous water includes bathtubs, fish ponds, wading pools, hot tubs, lakes and oceans. Young children have even drowned in a bucket with less than an inch of water. Drowning is the number one cause of injury-related deaths for 1 to 4 years olds. Children drown without a sound. Brain damage happens after a child has been under water for four minutes. Most toddler drownings happen at home or in a friend’s pool.
- If you are using a child’s wading pool, empty it after use.
- Swimming lessons should not begin until age 4.
- Always apply sunscreen to baby when he is outside. Make sure you dress your baby in a hat and protect his skin. Babies burn easily and sunscreen lasts only a short time.
- Try to avoid the strongest sun between a.m. and p.m., and have your baby play in the shade as much as possible.
- Always hold your child’s hand in and near traffic.
- Set up fences or other barriers to make sure your child stays within the play area at home. Be sure to keep your child away from the street, pool, pond, or other dangers.
- The garage and basement can be dangerous places, too. Lock up paints, paint thinners and garden and yard supplies.
- Read labels before you buy things. Try to find the least toxic ones for the job. Only buy the supplies you need and be sure to use them right away.
- Never put harmful products in a food jar or bottle. Your child may try to eat or drink it.
- Work trenches and equipment are big temptations for little children. So be sure to keep him away from work and construction areas.
- Install smoke alarms in every room. Make sure the batteries work and test them every month.
- Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen.
- Keep all flammable products away from the furnace, stoves or water heater.
- If your child’s clothes catch on fire, smother the flames in a blanket.
- If there is a fire, stay close to the floor. Cover your mouth and nose. Crawl out of the burning area. Smoke can kill you.
- Only use quick-release bars on windows.
- Make a fire escape plan for your home. Have everyone practice it.
- Be sure that coal and wood stoves work right. If they don’t work right, they can give off poisonous fumes.
- If you have a coal or wood stove, you should also install a carbon monoxide detector.
- If you smell gas, turn off your stove or gas burner. Leave your house and call the gas company.
—- from First5 Advice for New Parents