The playground may seem like one of the safest spaces for children. After all, it was designed with kids in mind, right? But even though it’s a child-friendly space, many playgrounds can be hazardous if proper precautions aren’t taken. According to Kids Health, More than 200,000 kids in the United States are treated in hospitals for playground-related injuries each year, many of which could’ve been prevented.
Below, we review the safety precautions you should take when visiting a playground with your toddler so you can have a safe and fun time.
Tell Your Child The Rules
Before even going to the playground, you should have a discussion with your toddler about the rules. Make sure to do it in an age-appropriate way, so they’ll understand. The simpler the wording, the better.
- For example, make sure they understand the rules for playing nicely with other kids. This means no hitting or kicking and being open to sharing.
- Additionally, emphasize that your toddler is not to run out of mom or dad’s view. You can physically show them the area they have to stay in when you arrive at the park.
- Finally, make sure your child understands how to safely use playground equipment. You can explain this to them as they engage with each piece. For example, only go feet-first on a slide, hold on to the railing while climbing ladders, and don’t walk in front of someone riding a swing.
Talk About Stranger Danger
It’s also important that your child knows the basics about ‘stranger danger‘- they shouldn’t talk to someone they don’t know. But nowadays, it’s not enough to make your child weary of strangers.
- Emphasize that they should never accept something from someone (like food or a toy) unless mom or dad says it’s okay first.
- Likewise, make sure your toddler understands not to go off with someone, even if it’s a person they recognize.
With a toddler, there should never be a moment you take your eyes off them at the park. Ideally, you’ll be able to see if someone is approaching your child beforehand. But it’s still important for your toddler to understand the importance of being on guard.
Look For Park Guidelines
If you’re visiting a park for the first time, have a look around to see if you can find any guidelines. Baby Goo Roo explains that most parks will have rules about staying safe on the playground equipment.
They may even have special equipment designed for very young kids. This may include smaller steps and ladders, lower platforms, and shorter slides, which are more appropriate for toddlers as it reduces the risk of injury. Make sure your toddler sticks to age-appropriate equipment, whenever possible.
Beware Of Surfaces
Certain surfaces are going to be more dangerous to your toddler than others. Asphalt, concrete, and gravel can be harsher if your child has a fall. Try to stick to parks that have impact-absorbing surfaces, like turf, rubber, sand, or wood chips.
When this isn’t possible, make sure to keep an extra close eye on your toddler and be nearby, so you can help break their fall in case they take a tumble.
Find Protection From Sun.
Whenever you’re going to be outside with your child, it’s important to take steps to protect yourself from the sun. When you first arrive at the park, identify a shaded area that you can put your things under. If your child needs a break, like for a snack or water, keep it underneath the shaded area.
Additionally, make sure to use an appropriate sunscreen on your toddler and reapply accordingly. Encourage your child to wear a hat, sunglasses, and layers to limit their UV exposure.
Check Your Surroundings
As a parent, it’s also important that you’re vigilant about your surroundings in the playground. When you first arrive, do a visual scan and take in everything around you.
Take note of the people around you and if there’s anything left unattended (whether it’s belongings or garbage). Since it’s a public space, people may have left items you don’t want your toddler picking up, like broken bottles.
Additionally, evaluate how the weather may be impacting the playground.
- If the temperature is high, the equipment may be too hot for your child. Test out slides and swings with your hand before letting your child sit down.
- Similarly, if it just rained, surfaces may be wet and slippery.
- Caution your toddler to go slow, so they don’t accidentally fall.
Keep Your Eyes On Your Kid
Finally, one of the most important things that you should do as a parent at the playground is to keep a close watch on your child. For toddlers, it’s safest to stand beside or near them as they use the playground equipment. This ensures you can offer assistance when needed and prevent a fall before it happens.
Additionally, it also ensures your child is safe from strangers. Remember, a playground is a public area, and it can take mere minutes for someone to interfere with your child. Never take your eyes off them.
Sources: Baby Goo Roo, Kids Health, What to Expect,