Those sleepless newborn days seem easy once you have an active, curious toddler roaming your house.
Toddler development milestones include a variety of motor skills, including walking, running a climbing. While it’s exciting to see your little one becoming more independent, it also means you have a lot more safety considerations now that your child can get into things.
Keep reading to learn toddler safety tips that can reduce your little one’s risk of serious injuries at home and out and about.
1. Childproof Your Home
As an adult, you can navigate your house without much danger. But curious toddlers who are becoming more mobile can access potentially harmful things without realizing how dangerous they are.
Use childproofing gadgets to make the home safer. Childproofing usually focuses on limiting access to dangerous areas, softening harder surfaces, and removing potentially dangerous items.
Child gates help keep your toddler out of certain rooms or away from stairs. For rooms with doors, doorknob covers can keep your toddler from opening the door.
Corner guards on coffee tables, fireplaces, and other hard, sharp objects can cut down on injuries. Toddlers are still gaining control over their motor skills, so falling into furniture is common. Softening those hard areas can help.
Using an adhesive mount cabinet lock on each cabinet keeps your toddler away from potentially dangerous items. Even things like pots or small kitchen appliances can be dangerous if they fall on your child, so it’s a good idea to secure all cabinets throughout your home.
Tipping furniture is another hazard with an average of 12,500 kids each year receiving treatment in the ER for injuries. Anchor furniture, such as bookshelves, dressers, and TV stands, to the wall with brackets to protect your child from an accidental tip-over.
2. Use Proper Child Safety Seats
Your toddler should always be properly restrained in a car seat anytime you drive anywhere. Check the weight and height limits for the car seat to ensure your toddler fits within the guidelines.
The safest spot for your child is in the backseat. Keep your child rear-facing as long as possible based on height, weight, and car seat limits. Many car seats allow for toddlers to remain rear-facing up to age 3.
Rear-facing provides your toddler with the most protection in case of a car accident. Once your toddler reaches the maximum rear-facing weight on the child seat, you can switch to a front-facing car seat. Continue with the five-point harness system as long as possible based on the seat limits.
3. Practice Water Safety
It only takes 1 or 2 inches of water for a young child to drown, which makes any water, even bathtubs and baby pools, a risk. Drowning tops the list of injury death causes in kids ages 1 to 4.
Supervising your toddler at all times around water is the best way to prevent drowning. It’s also important to supervise your child when water is near, even if your child isn’t swimming. In kids 4 and under, 69% of drownings happen when kids have access to water during non-swimming times.
If you have a pool at your home, secure access to it with proper fencing. Limit access to other water, such as fountains and ponds.
Avoid leaving containers filled with water. Empty buckets, bowls, coolers, and other containers that might have water in them.
Never leave your toddler unattended in the bathtub or bathroom. Use doorknob covers to limit access to the bathroom.
When you spend time at the beach, lakes, or rivers, always use a life jacket on your toddler that’s properly sized.
4. Supervise Your Child
Nothing beats supervision for keeping your toddler safe. Even if you meticulously childproof your home, your toddler can still find dangers when left alone.
Set up safe spaces for your toddler near areas where you spend time. For example, create a space in or near your kitchen where your toddler can play safely while you cook.
These safe spaces should keep your toddler where you can see and hear them at all times. You should also be able to reach your child immediately in case a dangerous situation happens.
It’s tempting to leave your toddler alone in a room for a minute while you grab something or handle a task. But it only takes a few seconds for an injury to happen.
Make sure other family members or care providers also follow the active supervision rule when watching your toddler.
5. Secure Dangerous Items
Items that you know how to handle safely are very dangerous if a toddler gets to them. Handguns, power tools, poisonous chemicals, and medications are examples.
Store these dangerous items properly in your home. If you keep guns in your home, they should always be stored unloaded in a locked gun safe.
Unplug any power tools when they’re not in use. Secure them in a locked cabinet if your toddler has access to your garage or workshop.
Cleaners, chemicals, and medications should also be locked away in an area not accessible to your toddler.
6. Learn CPR and First Aid
CPR and first aid are skills you hope to never use. However, if an emergency happens, knowing how to use those skills properly could save your toddler’s life.
If you haven’t taken a child CPR and first aid course, sign up for one now. Take a refresher course regularly to keep your skills sharp. Have other adults, teens, and childcare providers get certified in CPR as well.
Keep a list of important emergency numbers handy, including poison control and your child’s pediatrician.
7. Practice Safety Skills
Toddlers can learn some basic safety skills that could help them in dangerous situations. Practice things such as crossing the road safely and home fire drills on a regular basis.
When you go somewhere new, teach your child how to behave and review the rules. At the park, practice climbing the stairs carefully while holding the railing. At the pool, practice waiting for an adult to enter the pool.
8. Reduce Choking Hazards
Any small object becomes a choking hazard for toddlers. A quick check is to see if something fits inside a toilet paper tube. If it does, the item is small enough to be a choking hazard.
Buttons, batteries, coins, jewelry, popped balloons, and many other small objects around the house are all examples. Keep those items away from your toddler. Scan the house regularly for small items on the floor, tables, or other areas where your toddler can reach.
At meal and snack time, cut foods into small pieces that reduce the risk of choking. Skip things such as hard candies, peanuts, and other hard foods that could cause choking.
9. Evaluate Toy Safety
Even toys marketed for young kids could be potentially dangerous for your toddler. Always check the age recommendations on toys. Avoid anything with loose or small parts, poor construction, or cheap materials that could break easily.
Child-sized trampolines, scooters, and similar toys come with potential risks for toddlers. They often don’t have the coordination to handle those toys and could fall and seriously injure themselves.
Consider your child’s physical development to choose appropriate toys. Supervise your toddler while using these items. Use protective gear, such as helmets and knee pads, when appropriate.
10. Use Outdoor Protection
Before heading outdoors, use protection to keep your toddler safe.
Always apply sunscreen to your little one, even on cloudy days. Reapply the sunscreen at least every 2 hours or more often if your little one is sweaty or playing in the water. Use clothing and hats to cover exposed skin for additional protection.
Insect repellent is also helpful if you’re outdoors, especially in wooded areas or places with weeds and tall plants.
Bring along extra clothing so you always have something appropriate for your child to wear. This is especially helpful in spring and fall when the weather can change quickly. Having a jacket and long pants on hand helps keep your child warm if the temperature drops while you’re out.
In the winter, dress your little one in warm layers. Use hats and mittens for extra warmth and protection.
11. Anticipate Dangers
At home, you can provide a more controlled environment for your toddler. When you go out, you’re faced with unknowns and potential dangers that you don’t have to worry about at home.
Get in the habit of anticipating potential dangers before you leave. By knowing what could happen, you can use different safety strategies to cut down on the risks.
If you’re taking your toddler to the farmers market where there will be lots of people and distractions, bringing your stroller to keep your toddler contained reduces the risks.
Carry your toddler or hold your toddler’s hand when you’re in parking lots, sidewalks, or other areas where your child could dart out into traffic. Remind your child of the dangers and the rules when you’re out.
Implement Toddler Safety Tips
Keeping toddler safety in mind can reduce the chances of serious injury to your little one while still allowing exploration and development. Little precautions can make a big impact on the safety and happiness of your toddler.