So is it time to get some fresh air and sunshine outdoors with your toddler?
Well, it’s a whole different world out there compared to the safety inside your home.
Here are my favorite tips to keeping your toddler safe while playing outside, because they are going to do everything in their power to give you a heart attack and keep you on your toes.
Fencing, Fencing, Fencing!
No, I don’t mean the medieval sport, silly!
It sounds rather fun, but alas, that would be even MORE dangerous! Instead, make sure that your play space outdoors is properly fenced on all sides so that little Johnny can’t escape and wander the neighborhood.
It doesn’t really matter whether you have chain link or wooden slats or pickets, but preferably avoid only-decorative fencing that has wide gaps that a child can disappear through. Or barbed-wire. Yeah, don’t do that, either.
Gates and Latching Mechanisms that will Boggle your Kid’s Mind
All the fencing in the world isn’t going to amount to a hill of beans if you don’t have a proper gate with a childproof lock.
This is easier said than done because most kids are little Houdinis that can figure out complicated puzzles that even we parents struggle with.
Thankfully, there are some awesome outdoor baby gates on the market that are devised especially to confound the kiddos.
These can be installed on porches, decks, stair areas, or openings in wooden fence structures. Seek these out. They are lifesavers!
Supervision (i.e. Pay Attention)
Okay, you might be thinking...well, duh.
But seriously. It is so easy to get distracted and get caught up in chatting with your neighbor, taking a phone call, or finding an awesome article like this to read on your device while your toddler is toddling around outside.
Just don’t forget that you need to be able to do some serious multi-tasking if you choose to split your attention.
Of course, it depends on the age of your child as to how constantly you have to check on their play activity, but be realistic about what they need to stay safe.
If you have older children, implement a buddy system so that there is always at least two playing together and no one is left alone.
Inspection (& Re-inspection) of the Playground Equipment and Outdoor Toys
Play items that are left outside are very prone to degrading from weather conditions such as rain, sun, wind, snow, and ice.
Periodically look over all the equipment and check for splinters, rusty spots, broken areas, protrusions such as nails or screws, or other oddities that would render that item unsafe.
The last thing you need is to have to dig out the first aid kit or have an ER run over something that could have been avoided.
Teach your kids to point out things that look dangerous to them, too, because they can see things from their vantage point that is harder for big people to catch.
Grooming (the Yard)
Keep the play area neat, clean, and clear of debris, long grass, old building projects, and random tools you were using last weekend when you decided to build that super cool new doghouse, etc..
This will assure that your child doesn’t encounter sharp or heavy items left abandoned, dangerous critters that like to lurk in unkept areas, or other such perils that would entice the average toddler to explore outside the scope of their expertise.
So mow that yard, weedeat the edges, remove the downed branches, rake the leaves, and don’t be a clutterbug where the kids play.
Consideration of Pets and Poo
Oh, this is a tricky one.
But, seriously think twice before letting your toddler play in the same play area as your pets. (And not just to avoid any potential piles of poo.)
Animals can be unpredictable and if there is any chance that yours is, separate the little humans from their territory.
This might mean an extra fence line or other measures to make sure that your toddler doesn’t have to worry about being knocked down by Fido or bitten because they were playing tug-of-war with Spot’s favorite bone.
Little kids are...well, little. If a pet is larger or faster than they are, it could easily frustrate them if they are learning to walk, but your four-legged furball keeps tripping them up.
Just respectfully give them each their own play space, if necessary. They’ll both thank you.
Unleashing the Leashes
Nope, this section doesn’t have anything to do with your pets. I’m talking about your toddler.
Now, obviously, this recommendation isn’t in reference to playing around your yard or even the local playground area.
But if you are visiting a crowded park or an unfamiliar area, hiking a trail, or navigating an urban play area with traffic nearby, please don’t hesitate to strap a leash on your little one.
They make super cute ones designed especially for kids, so hopefully, you won’t get any funny looks. But this is so important when walking, playing, or exploring in areas where your toddler could easily run off and get lost or hurt. Safety first!
Well, specifically, dress your child appropriately for the outdoor activity (although more is caught than taught, so hey, feel free to be a good influence!).
Now we all know that kids love to shed their coats and shoes even when it doesn’t make sense to us. And there is nothing wrong with taking their choices into account in regards to their clothing.
Playing hard may mean they are warmer than you are and don’t need 15 layers on. If they have a clean play space, free of any potential pieces of broken glass or sharp nails, it is fine for them to play barefoot.
But if you are in a public area that is questionable, you may have to double-knot their shoelaces! On this note, though, make sure that they have safety gear, such as knee or elbow pads, and a helmet if they are skating or riding anything with wheels.
Also, be prepared to have available whatever items your kids need to stay warm, such as a coat, hat, gloves, or earmuffs, even if they don’t wear them constantly.
Well, there you go!
Those are my favorite tips on how to keep your toddler safe while playing outside!
Do you have any more ideas to share with our readers? I’m sure there are plenty more that could be brought to the table. I would love to hear from you in the comments below!