Toddlers have an insatiable appetite for adventure! Many Moms with babies 12-18 months can attest that this new sense of independence and exploration can be both amazing to witness as well as anxiety provoking! While it is very important for children to have the ability to discover and learn through such expeditions, it can be quite challenging to balance baby’s search for freedom and fun, and your need to ensure their security and safety.
The American Academy of Pediatrics reminds families that “play” aids in children’s developmental growth and allows parents to strengthen the bonds with their little ones. Although tumbles are now part of a toddler’s life, parents still search for how best to support and challenge their increasingly curious kids.
Boston Babies features Boston Mom and North End Resident, Haley Cutter, who recently has been balancing this very concern. She shares her story and advice on how she is learning to roll with the punches (and the falls) that come from her son’s search for adventure!
As the mother of a very active, extremely curious 15-month boy, I recognize that my son has entered the stage of toddlerhood where falls and accidents are inevitable.
My son’s desire to run out into the world (or across an un-childproofed, crowded room) full speed ahead, or attempt to toddle up and down any slight incline has me half wishing to reclaim his infant days when entertainment was defined as laying safely and soundly on a padded activity gym while gazing at a colorful mobile for hours on end.
Entering into the stage of exploration that defines toddlerhood has been both amazing and terrifying. Who would have fathomed that it was possible to experience so much joy while witnessing my precious little one achieve new skills, such as learning how to successfully climb up and down a step at the park?
Yet, as much as I’ve enjoyed watching my son explore and discover the world, I have nightmares about emergency room visits. I find that I am repeatedly questioning myself, “Should I allow him to explore this (step, slide, toy, etc)? Or, should I stop him so that he does not get hurt?”
After much thought, many falls, and one emergency room trip * (for a fall that occurred while my son was playing with a toy under many watchful eyes at an amazing day care facility), I have developed a few quick assessment questions to aid in helping me decide whether I allow my son to explore or pull in the reins. My decision is ultimately based both on my son’s moods and the environment we are in at any moment I begin to question his safety.
At these times, I take a quick inventory of the situation:
- I assess my son’s mood… “Is he over tired or fussy?”
- I look at the area he wants to explore, “Do rough/sharp edges exist in the area or, is it really not child friendly?”
If I answer yes to any of my questions, I reel my son in even if he is kicking and screaming. I would much rather deal with a temper tantrum and a few discerning looks than risk any injury or permanent damage to my son.
Although it is impossible to prevent all accidents, there are certainly tips for reducing risks.
Tips for preventing injuries around the home:
- Cover all electrical outlets with outlet plugs
- Make sure that cords to blinds are not accessible
- Childproof cabinets and drawers, as well as ovens with child locking mechanisms
- Consider getting rid of glass coffee tables, or low tables with sharp edges. If this is not an option, invest in pads to cover the edges.
- De-clutter any “knick knacks” from low lying tables and shelves, in particular glass and sharp objects
- Keep any medication (including over the counter medicine, vitamins, and any pet medication) in containers with childproof tops in locked cabinets.
- Gate off or close doors to areas of the house that are not toddler safe- including stairs.
- Utilize pack in play or other contained equipment (i.e.: exersaucer) when child is overtired but not ready for bed.
Yet, even when following all the childproofing, we all realize that children will get hurt.
Tips for Accessing whether an ER Trip is Necessary:
- Call your pediatrician immediately if you have any uncertainties about the seriousness of injury. (Have your pediatricians contact information programmed into your cell phone.)
- Take a photo of the injured area and email it to the doctor, as a picture will always be more telling than a Mom’s description of injury.
- Follow your doctor’s instructions.
Although the cut did not bleed excessively, nurse at pediatrician’s office confirmed that ER visit would be necessary after viewing photo.
ER applied medical glue and steri-strips and within 10 days, wound had healed perfectly (ahhh, the wonder of young skin).