While your toddler may seem to have a strong and wilful personality, they are still small, vulnerable people. This is especially true now that they are able to get around unaided, and can get themselves into all sorts of scrapes before you’ve even had a chance to draw breath.
Falls in Young Children
Showing your young child how to use stairs and furniture properly will help to avoid increased Risk Of Injury From Falling. Between the age of two and three, children will be able to move from travelling downstairs on their bottom, to walking and holding on to the rail. When they get to age four to five, they understand explanations more easily and this helps to make them appreciate the importance of safety, instead of just saying ‘no’ when they are in danger. It will also help them understand how their actions may affect others.
Because of their increased mobility, falls and trips are one of the main causes of accidents for this age group. In fact, falls are the single biggest cause of injury now, so it is paramount that you keep floors, corridors and especially stairs clear of clutter and Use Stair Gates whenever possible. Whatever the age of your child, stairs should be made out of bounds for playing on, to be on the safe side.
Windows are also a risk and have a huge curiosity factor, especially if an older child of four or five can open them easily. Even a fall from a low window can lead to severe injury, so fit window locks and make sure your child knows not to play on furniture near a window.
Danger of Poisons
You’ll have locked away hazardous things like cleaning fluids, cosmetics, medicines and alcohol since your child was mobile, but poisoning incidents increase as children gain access to cupboards you didn’t know they could get into. Toddlers are still at the stage where they put everything into their mouths and things in bottles are all juice to them, while older children will be keen to try the things they see you drinking or eating – even if it’s painkillers.
The same goes for gardens. Some plants are not just thorny but poisonous, so check out what you have in the garden and keep children away from the dangerous plants altogether. Here are a few articles you might find useful:
Choking is also a hazard with children aged four to five, as they are now keen to eat literally ‘on the run’. Snacking on sweets at the park is not danger in itself, but it becomes one if they are running around with a lolly in their mouth or a hard sweet that could become lodged. Try to ensure that all eating is controlled and that they are shown how to chew properly. The same goes for mealtimes.
Burns and Scalds in Small Children
Although children aged two to five have thicker skin than babies, hot water is still a real hazard. Hot water can always burn so make sure children know which tap is which on sinks and baths and keep them well away from open flames such as gas cookers, candles and especially matches and lighters.
Older children are more likely to run around in the sun so if you can’t keep them in the shade, follow the ‘slip, slop, slap rules’ of T-shirt, suncream and hat at all times.
Car and Road Safety
The nearer to five a child gets, the more hazardous roads become. Chances are they will be riding a bike or scooter by themselves so make sure they know the safety rules of staying on the pavement if you must ride by a road. Make sure they have all the relevant safety equipment for riding a bike, both in terms of clothing and equipment for the bike.
In the car, Car Seats And Booster Seats Are A Legal Requirement so make sure you use one at all times and ensure it is properly fitted.
Almost half of children injured in road accidents are pedestrians so make sure you instil road sense as soon as possible, and don’t let them attempt to cross a road by themselves at all. Keep a tight hold on toddlers when walking on pavements as they are most likely to shoot off after a bird, blissfully unaware of the dangers.
Water and Glass
Drowning becomes less of a risk as children get older but toddlers should not be allowed near water, no matter how shallow or ‘safe’ looking. Older children will be able to manoeuvre themselves out of a potentially dangerous situation and recognise the risks, but a toddler won’t. Older children should still be closely supervised near outside water as they may underestimate the strength of a stream or river’s current. Baths should be supervised up until the age of six and above, but even then, a parent or carer should remain in earshot.
From toddler age up, children are trusted more to use play scissors and help in the kitchen (with supervision). However, this can lead to a lot more cuts and should be done only with an adult around. Glass doors and windows also present a hazard to an excitable child who may run into one. Glass can be toughened and you should check your house for any single panes in interior doors that could shatter easily.
Climbing at Home
Children between three and five start using furniture to play on at home. Bunk beds are attractive for play but it should be made clear that they are not a climbing frame! Indeed, as confidence and physical ability grows, your child will be a lot more adventurous in outdoor play, but this should still be supervised for safety.
In general, it is important to remember that although your child’s confidence is growing and they are more articulate, it doesn’t mean they can retain or understand safety information any more than when they were two or three. Never assume your child will act on something you tell them, just to be sure.