Learn more about playground safety for toddlers and keep your kids safe while letting them enjoy their freedom.
Even the most basic playground can be an awe-inspiring amusement park for tots. Here’s how to keep them safe as they enjoy the ride.
Stick with baby equipment. "The biggest mistake parents and caregivers can make at the playground is to place a child on equipment that’s designed for older children," says Dorothy Drago, author of From Crib to Kindergarten: The Essential Child Safety Guide. Playground equipment to steer clear of until a child is at least 2 years old: slides, merry-go-rounds, parallel bars, rotating tire swings, belted swings, and sliding poles. For a full list, read the Public Playground Handbook by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
Check the ground. "Falls are responsible for most playground injuries," says Drago. "When you get to a playground, make sure the surfacing is safe. That’s what cushions the fall, and reduces the chances for severe injury." Concrete and asphalt: not safe. The CPSC recommends mulch, fine sand, or shredded rubber, piled at least a foot deep.
Pay attention. Yes, the iPhone may beckon, but stay focused on your child. If you’re going to take a call, use a hands-free device so your eyes and hands are free of distraction.
Come prepared. "I always bring snacks, drinks, and, in summer, sunscreen and hats," says Karla Wheaton, a mom of two in Portland, Maine. "I also bring a blanket to sit on so that we can hang out and watch the big kids play." Also good to take along: a bottle of water, bandages, and toys for the sandbox—a few round-edged shovels or rakes will keep baby more interested in playing with the sand than eating it.
Look out for litter. Little kids love to play garbage collector. "My toddler used to always find the chewed gum, crushed soda cans, and bottle caps people left behind," says Kelly Campbell, a mom of one in Boulder, Colorado. "Now I bring a plastic shopping bag to put those things in before my girl gets to them, then toss them into the garbage can as we leave. I feel good knowing I’ve made the playground safer for all kids."
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