As parents, we naturally worry about our children. Whether we’re trying to protect them from mishaps as toddlers or shelter them from high-risk behaviors as teens, safety is always at the top of our minds. So how do you keep up when potential risks and dangers look so very different at every age and stage?
Find peace of mind with these tips from Dr. Rosa Taveras, AdventHealth pediatrician, on ways to keep your kids safe at home, school, during extracurricular activities and everywhere in between.
Safety Awareness Tips for Parents with Infants
You can take steps to keep your babies safe even before they can move around on their own. Here’s how:
- Avoid choking hazards: Make sure to feed infants age-appropriate foods and incorporate solids after discussion with your pediatrician and only when they can handle chewing them. It’s also important to keep them away from small objects, including toys with tiny parts, that they could put in their mouths. Make sure to use age-appropriate toys to avoid these risks.
- Keep infants safe on the road: Always keep your babies in age-appropriate car seats.
- Prevent drowning: Keep bath time safe and fun. Never leave children unattended in baths or pools.
- Practice sleep safety: Know your ABCs of infant sleep safety to avoid SIDS. Make sure babies sleep alone on their backs, and in their cribs, without any toys, pillows or blankets.
- Protect babies from burns: Babies are fragile, and their sensitive skin is susceptible to burns. Test bath water before bathing your baby to ensure it isn’t too hot. Also, be sure to keep hot beverages out of their reach.
- Use sun protection: Following the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations, during sunny days, it’s important to keep babies younger than 6 months out of direct sunlight. If baby has to go out, protect their skin by using sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher in exposed areas.
Safety Awareness Tips for Parents with Toddlers
As toddlers become more mobile, here are some tips for how to help them explore the world around them more safely:
- Cover electrical outlets: Avoid shocks to tiny fingers by keeping outlets covered or plugged.
- Mobilize safely: Ensure soft landings for toddlers by covering edges of sharp furniture, bolting furniture to walls to prevent it from toppling, and using baby gates in front of stairs or to block rooms with hazards.
- Protect from poisons: Keep cleaning products, batteries, medications and other toxic materials out of reach and in locked cabinets.
- Respect animals: Supervise children when meeting new animals and teach them how to safely approach pets. And if you have animals, make sure they’re up to date on vaccines.
Safety Awareness Tips for Parents with School Children
Starting school is an exciting time for children, especially since they can start sports and other new activities. Keep school-aged kids safe by teaching:
- Bicycle safety: Make sure children wear bike helmets and understand the rules of the road.
- Road safety: Keep kids safe inside and outside of cars by always making them wear seat belts, teaching them traffic safety (including how to cross the road) and avoiding letting them play near roadways.
- Water safety: Teach kids to swim and continue to supervise young children any time they’re near the water.
Safety Awareness Tips for Parents with Teens
As children become teenagers, parents can take steps to help them become more independent while still emphasizing safety. Here are a few ideas:
- Discuss high-risk behaviors: Make sure to talk about drug and alcohol use openly with your teen and don’t shy away from detailing the risks.
- Support sports safety: As teens get more engaged in sports, make sure they have the right safety equipment and practices to avoid common sports injuries. Teach them about good hydration and help them understand the importance of conditioning. Teens need to drink about 34–50 ounces per hour, and it is helpful to stay well hydrated in the days and hours before any sports activity begins. If vigorous exercise extends beyond 1 hour in a day or your child is sweating a lot, electrolyte-supplemented beverages may be necessary.
- Teach road safety: Getting a driver’s license is a rite of passage for teens, representing new-found freedom and responsibility. But it’s a constant worry for parents. Make sure your teen understands the rules of the road and the importance of always wearing their seatbelt. It’s also crucial to have a plan in place that makes it easy for them to never drink and drive (or get into a vehicle with anyone else who’s been drinking) and never text and drive.
We’re Here to Support Safety
At AdventHealth, know that we’re here when you need us most at our conveniently located emergency rooms, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Find a location near you at TheERExperts.com. Your child’s safety is our top priority.
*Presented by AdventHealth | Originally published in October 2023 of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.