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Safety issues with toddlers at home

Your child is now mobile and wanting to explore their environment. Therefore it should become a priority for you to make sure that their environment is safe for them.

One of the main problems for young children around your home can be a staircase. If you do have stairs in your home it is a good idea to install a gate either at the top of the stairs, at the bottom or both. It is also a good idea to teach your baby how to climb up and down the stairs safely. Once a baby starts to move and crawl they can learn this. You can teach them by demonstrating how they should climb down backwards and climb up. Repeating this over and over will help them to understand. However, it is best to continue to use gates until they are older and really able to manage stairs safely on their own.

Other safety issues for babies of this age (and for most of their childhood) include:

  • Choking
  • Equipment like walkers
  • Falling off things
  • Drowning
  • Burns – including sunburn
  • Suffocation or strangulation

Ideally you should look at your house from your child’s perspective. What do they see when they move around? What can they touch, pull or climb on? One of the obvious things is removing or securing objects that they can easily pull over onto themselves, especially heavy items such as televisions and chairs etc. Also make sure there are no low power sockets that they might be able to stick something into. If you do have low power sockets then you can put a safety cover over them.

Try to keep a keen eye out for small items around the house that your child may put in their mouth such as toys with small parts. If you have older children with toys that have small parts then try to keep them in a place where your younger child cannot get to them.

Make sure all hot drinks and food are kept well out of reach of your child as they may reach and pull them onto themselves – exploring and tasting new things is big for toddlers!  When bathing NEVER leave your child on their own and always test the water temperature before putting them into the bath or shower. Water temperature should be about 30Celsius but I would suggest you test it out first before popping your child in.

It’s very important to keep all dangerous items such as medicines or cleaning products out of reach of your child. There are heaps of safety latches that you can purchase for kitchen and bathroom cupboards. Alternatively, make sure you store these items in high cupboards where your baby can’t get to them.

Any kind of cords, curtain-ties, electrical leads etc. that could cause a strangulation need to be removed or kept way out of reach. Take particular note of these things in the room where your child sleeps.

When leaving the house, toddlers and young children need to be in a child restraint when travelling in the car and they should also be strapped in when using the pram. Make sure you are aware of the child seat requirements for your child’s age.

You could also have a good look around the garden or outdoors area to make sure there is nothing that your child could hurt themselves on. Babies and children should always wear sunscreen and a hat when going outdoors. There are plenty of great sunscreens for children on the market – 50+ SPF is recommended.

Finally, it is always a good idea keep your first aid skills up to date and to have a list of emergency numbers close by at all times.

Article by Wattle Health resident expert, Paediatric Nurse, Jo Ryan.