I really love that age when your child starts to interact with you, but they are still immobile. Then they find their legs and wander aimlessly around (and sometimes into) things! My kids always seemed to be covered in bumps and bruises and I was worried that it looked like they were being physically abused. Once toddlers build up the confidence to start exploring, life can become difficult. Things like showering and doing chores become times when your little cherub can, and often will, find ways to harm themself!
I have some advice of how to keep your toddlers safe. I know there will be differing opinions over these ideas, but they worked for me and at the end of the day, the safety of your child is paramount.
- Playpen – This provides a safe environment where your child can play without risking injury. Make it a fun experience by sitting in there with your child whilst playing with toys and books. When the time comes that you need to leave your child unattended for a few minutes, you know that they can’t hurt themselves by climbing on furniture or getting into cupboards of chemicals. I know some adults see this as equivalent to baby jail, but kids don’t have any concept of prison. To them it is a new environment, which if introduced in a positive way (not just drop and run) they will be safe and happy. The younger you introduce them to this area, the more they will just accept it.
- Harness Restraints – Whether in a car seat, high chair or pram, kids must be made to wear the harness. All too often the child rebels against the idea of being strapped in, but for their own safety you have to make sure they can’t fall and suffer a serious injury. My daughter used to manage to slip her arms out of the straps, so that the harness was rendered practically useless. I purchased a contraption that covered the straps and brought them together so she couldn’t wiggle them over her shoulders. All kids get to an age where they don’t want to be strapped into the car seat and arch their backs like they are a possessed demon. That’s when you need to master the forearm across the body push down whilst buckling them in. I know a lot of you reading this are reminiscing over having to use this technique. In fact, I think they should teach it in pre-natal classes!
- Child Harness – I always said I wouldn’t walk around with my child on a lead, but one day when my daughter was three, she wiggled her hand out of mine whilst I was talking with someone. She ran straight onto the road to go to our parked car. I was screaming at her and she turned around to look at me just as an unsuspecting car slammed on its brakes. The side mirror of the car brushed against my daughter’s shoulder. How she didn’t suffer serious injuries that day I don’t know. The next day I bought a little monkey backpack to strap onto her that she could put her ‘special things’ in. More importantly, it had a tail handle I could hold onto to stop her running away at will. When she was in a safe environment I would tuck the tail in the backpack so she didn’t realise the purpose of the bag was to act as a restraining harness.
- Micro-fibers for Cleaning – I used to clean with bleach and antibacterial solutions. One day as I was mopping, one of my daughters decided to play with the frothy water. I was nearby and stopped her, but I was terrified of her scalding herself or ingesting chemicals. I made the move to Enjo cleaning cloths that do a good, if not better, job of cleaning without the use of chemicals. It is better for our household and better for the environment. It takes a little while to get your head around not needing chemicals (as the house doesn’t have that pine/lemon scent after cleaning), but once you do, you won’t look back. Then there is no need to have cupboards full of poisonous chemicals that your child can get into.
- Gates – As much as they are pain for the rest of the family, baby gates are a great way to section off safe areas of the house for your toddler to explore. They are particularly important if you have stairs. Even if the area is downstairs and your child can crawl up the stairs safely, what goes up must come down!
- Cupboard Child Locks – As much as we all wish kids would keep out of cupboards, the fact is that they want to explore. Even if the contents of the cupboard are safe, you need to worry about your child getting their fingers slammed in the door. There will come a time when they realise they can’t enter these cupboards so there is no point in trying. That’s when you can go back to free and easy use of your cupboards.
When you child-proof your home, you need to understand that many adults will also be fooled by the safety gadgets you use. It’s fun to watch friends trying to work out how to open your cupboards!
The period in your life when you feel like you are constantly on high alert for injuries seems like it will last an eternity. Before you know it, your child will understand the boundaries and can be trusted to safely explore their environment without too much concern. Although, as a mother, you never stop worrying about your kids no matter how old they are!
(Photo courtesy of freedigitlaphoto.net)