Here’s My Secret Sauce for Success in Safe Steps for Toddlers
The minute he walks in the door of a client’s house, Ken George usually spots one hazard that parents never notice: door stops.
“Door stops are almost always the rigid springs with the small, white rubber stopper at the end,” says George. “Parents don’t realize that stopper can be pulled off and put in the mouth of a baby or toddler. These are easily replaced with something safer, but if you don’t know it’s a hazard, you don’t know it needs to be replaced.”
After the motor vehicle and traffic deaths, choking/suffocation is a leading cause of accidental death in toddlers, along with burns, falls, poisonings, and drownings. Many of these accidents happen because of things like the door stopper that parents don’t think about, says George, a leading expert on child safety and founder of the California-based company The Original Safety for Toddlers. The good news is that accidents can be prevented by knowing what to look for and looking at your surroundings from your child’s perspective.
Once a baby starts crawling, parents are generally very conscientious about baby-proofing issues such as installing latches on cabinets, folding step stools, toddler step stools, safe step stools, mini stools, etc. They also concern about plugging outlets, putting up small objects, and gating forbade rooms and stairways for stair safety. However, George says they may not think about upgrading their “baby” proofing once the baby has the increased mobility and agility of a toddler. Your 18-month-old may have figured out how to open the same cupboard latch that kept him out from under the sink when he was an 11-month-old. Outlet plugs the baby may not have noticed it can be easily pried out by a curious, determined toddler.
George suggests considering the following safety tips checks for toddlers:
- Replace outlet plugs with outlet covers that only an adult can remove.
- Screens are designed to keep bugs out, not to keep children in. Purchase window stops that keep the window from opening all the way.
- Double and triple-check that blind and drapery cords are wound up and completely inaccessible.
- Remove dry-cleaning bags from clothing and discard them before hanging the item in the closet. These bags hang down almost to the floor, and toddlers can be easily entangled in them and suffocate.
- Don’t assume your toddler – especially at 3 or 3 1/2 years old – has a lot of sense. George says child safety around the home needs to be taken seriously until the child is at least four years old.
Sherri Albert from Kirkland, Wash., co-founder of Safety for Toddlers, says the first thing she tells parents when she walks into a house is that they are doing safety planning for the next few years, not just for the moment.
Here are Albert’s top safety tips for parents:
- Don’t rely on cupboard latches to keep children away from potential poisons and hazardous materials. Designate one closet in the house as a locking closet. Put all household cleaning products and any other hazardous materials on one shelf. Put all medication on another shelf. Keep the closet locked and put the key where only an adult has access.
- Be sure stoves are secured to the wall. She knows several instances where a child opened an oven door and tried to use it to climb on the kitchen counter only to have the entire stove fall forward. Even if there’s nothing hot on the burners, the heavy stove can seriously hurt a child.
- Be vigilant about emptying buckets after cleaning or washing the car and emptying baby pools after playtime. Drownings are second only to motor vehicle and traffic accidents as causes of deaths in toddlers.
Sibling Safety Tip for Babies
It’s not easy to keep an eye on your toddler every second of the day. That’s why safety-proofing is such an important issue. But it gets even more challenging when your toddler is the youngest child in the home. Hannah Gregory of Gardiner, Maine, says she worried about choking accidents when her youngest was a toddler, and her oldest was ready for marbles and small building blocks. She managed to solve the problem while making her oldest feel special instead of stifled.
“We made these small-part toys ‘special’ just for him when the baby/toddler was sleeping,” says Gregory. “They were placed in plastic boxes with closures and brought out for a special playtime just for the older child. This kept the younger child safe, without the older child feeling punished by the younger.”
Gregory also thinks it’s essential to be willing to give up some of your décors for safety reasons, especially tables with sharp edges or glass. Along those lines, her biggest challenge has been visiting relatives’ homes, particularly older relatives who may not be willing to make accommodations for curious little hands. Gregory says, hinting that it’s simply too difficult to visit without those accommodations may do the trick.
Lynn Morley of Belton, Mo., the mother of an infant and a toddler, has found that sometimes the best course is to rearrange her kitchen step stool for safety rather than convenience. This may be necessary throughout the home for older or more determined toddlers.
“My son is tall and can reach most anything on the counter,” says Morley. “If he can’t he drags a chair over and climbs on it to get what he wants. We try to teach him what is safe and what is not, but we also have locks on the cabinets that contain cleaners, and we place other items, such as steak knives, scissors – and even the salt and pepper shakers – out of his reach.”
Morley also has made identification tags for both of her children with their picture, name, address, phone number, parents’ names, physician contact information, blood type, and other medical conditions. The tags are attached to their diaper bags and car seats. If there is ever an accident or emergency when they’re out, that information is right at hand.
There’s no substitute for close supervision, but safety-proofing and being aware of the most significant safety hazards for toddlers can go a long way toward minimizing accidents. So, this is high time for using toddler step stools, stool for kids, folding step stool, kitchen step stool.
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