As divorced fathers, one of our highest priorities is the safety of our children. This is paramount when they are little: unable to protect themselves, learning to walk, and curious enough to get into everything. Toddler safety requires constant vigilance on our part.
Danger lurks around every corner for a little one learning to walk. So understanding and preparing for these threats can not only make our child ’s experience exciting but keep us from worry.
Today we will look at important ways we can keep our toddlers safe and make their experience at our homes better.
We will examine our house for dangers, our yards, and our automobiles. We will take a look at what the professionals say about toddler safety, but remember: at the end of the day, you are in charge . You are responsible. You’re Dad. That is not to scare you, but to help you understand this is a serious topic.
According to The Global Childrens Fund, the leading causes of toddler injury are:
- Car accidents
- Fires and burns
- Pedestrian deaths
- Firearm mishaps
Read that list again. Now, tell me the one thing that should jump out at you about it? If you said the majority of these are preventable, you would be correct. Let ‘s face it. Accidents do happen. Keeping the probability of those accidents low is our job. Let’s take a look inside your house first, That is where most of the toddler’s time is spent.
Toddler Safety In Your Home
Take a mental inventory of your house. Think about the main playing area, the bathroom, your bedroom, and the kitchen. Can you think of anything three feet from the ground up small enough to fit in your toddler’s mouth? What about stairs? Maybe you have a coffee table with sharp edges or a cabinet with chemicals hidden within? These are all areas where steps can be made to change your place into a safe zone for your children.
When my oldest was a toddler, he was curious just like most kids his age. It was a full-time job running after him, making sure he stayed out of trouble. One day he was playing in the front room and happened to run across a fork. To this day I am not sure how that fork ended up on the floor but whatever the reason his explorer nature found it.
Before I knew what was happening, he had stuck the fork in the electric outlet on the wall. Time slows when there is imminent danger inflicted on your child. I remember a popping sound, my son staggering backward, and the fork lying on the ground next to the wall.
Then came the crying. Well, crying would not be the correct terminology here; it was more of a wail. Along with the slowing of time, we as dads have the superhuman ability to cover a large amount of distance when our children are hurt or about to be hurt. I was at his side before his little mind could register that he needed me.
Once the tears subsided and something else demanded his attention, he was off playing as if nothing happened. I believe I hurt more than he did. One odd thing did happen after that experience: he would walk as far away from all outlets as he possibly could.
Head back to your mental inventory. You know your home more than anyone, but there are a few essential safety points I can suggest. These are a starter, not a comprehensive list. We will start here, but it is your job to evaluate the environment and make your home safe.
- Outlet covers – make sure they are hard to remove and swallow
- Toys – age appropriate, we don’t want choking hazards
- Gates – block your baby from stairs and other unsafe areas
- Toilets – keeping lids closed diminishes the possibility of drowning
- Lower shelves – knick knacks need to be out of reach (and watch for climbing)
- Cabinet locks – keep chemicals away from curious toddlers
- Blinds – strings from blinds can be a strangling hazard
One important tip to remember when accidents happen is: if you are calm = they are calm. Toddlers are experiencing everything for the first time, things we may take for granted. When the inevitable accidents happen, your first response should be to keep calm. Not only will it help your child not to panic but keeping a level head will assist you in thinking the situation through and making the right decisions.
Outdoor Toddler Safety
Outside play can be a rewarding and exciting time for you and your little one. There is a great big world out there to experience. Taking precautions does not mean being afraid to be outside; it means thinking about your surroundings and keeping them safe.
In my days of working in a factory, there was a sign on the wall I saw every day.
3 Causes of Accidents – I Didn’t Think, I Didn’t See, I Didn’t Know
Pretty sound advice for keeping toddlers safe.
Evaluate your yard. Can you point out any dangers right off? This may be a bit trickier because most of us don’t think of our yards being dangerous. To a toddler though, there are just as many hazards outside as there are indoors. Identifying hazards and making the necessary adjustments will save time and trips to the hospital.
- Low hanging branches/bushes – could cause potential cuts and eye injuries
- Loose rocks – toddlers love to put everything in their mouths
- Chemicals – lawn care, insect, or cleaning
- Shed – keep this one locked
The biggest danger is the pool. If you have a pool in your yard, make sure it is covered and locked down. Until I could teach my children how to swim there was never a second they were allowed near a pool without me. “More than 7 out of 10 fatal pool drownings in children from 2005 to 2014 occurred among those under age 5, and most of these occurred in backyard pools.”
Keeping Your Toddler Safe in the Car
Car accidents happen. That is a fact, and there is little we can do except be more careful drivers. Motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of accidental death for children under age 19. In addition to crashes, children left unattended in vehicles are at extreme risk.
In my opinion, there are only two hard, fast rules:
Make sure you have the correct car seat for your toddler. There is a myriad of information on what are the best types for each age. Follow those instructions, and your toddler will be as safe as they can be in a car.
Never, under any circumstances, leave your child in the car. It takes a little as a few minutes for a toddler to succumb to heatstroke from being in a vehicle. They cannot get out of the car by design, so it is up to you to always make sure they go with you when you leave the car.
Being Prepared is Half The Battle
Remember, I am not trying to scare you into not having fun with your toddler. I am, however, trying to scare you into making sure your toddler is safe.
Child-proofing your home and surroundings doesn’t mean things won’t go wrong, but being prepared is half the battle. Keeping your calm will save precious seconds when you need to act in an emergency. Do you know the route to the nearest hospital? Do you keep a list of your child’s medications and her doctor’s number?
Make the best of your time with your toddler. These days will fly by, and before you know it there will be a new set of safety tips to consider. Have fun and keep safe.
- Several years ago, I attended a wedding that set the stage for blended family chaos. The bride’s parents had divorced when “Holly” was in elementary school. Her mother remarried shortly thereafter, and the stepfather, “Tim,” was instrumental in Holly’s life. So important that, when it was time to plan the…