Safety is being protected from risk, danger, or injury. As a child care provider safety is essential. The safety of an infant and toddler requires the caregiver to evaluate the environment that is surrounding them and create safety practices and policies that will protect and prevent them from any possible injury. Infant and toddlers are at their most vulnerable stage in life, there are a plethora of potential safety hazards that could happen at anytime and anywhere.
In this first blog post I will go over five potentially hazardous situations or safety threats common to infants and toddlers. I will also go over how to prevent and process these situations and safety policies that can be useful to your everyday care for these infants and toddlers. The five hazardous situations and threats are: choking/suffocation, drowning, poisonous chemicals, falls, and electrical items.
The first hazard, choking and suffocation are the most common injury in infants and toddlers that can even possibly result in death (Robertson. 2013). Children at this age are most at risk for this because of small objects that they can put into their mouths. There are some measure that you can take to prevent infants and toddlers from choking or suffocating. The environments infants and toddlers are in should be constantly and carefully monitored for small objects and soft objects. Always check floors and any reachable area for small objects like pins, coins, or buttons. Toys should be larger than two inches in diameter. Cribs should be free of plastics or pillows, the crib slats should be less than 25/8 inches apart, and the space between mattress and slats should be less than two fingers wide. Be sure that blinds or curtain strings are pulled up and out of reach (Robertson. 2013). From my own experience working with infants and toddler I have learned to carefully inspect the areas of my work areas and home for any small choking and suffocation hazards. I have learned to make sure I know where the child is at all times to insure safety. In my home I make sure I have a spot for all small item such as coins, buttons or random small items that an infant could possibly choke on. I make sure to prepare food that is small enough that the child will not choke and to properly teach a toddler how to chew their food slowly and enough so they won’t choke. I teach a toddler to never put anything in their mouth because it is not safe, but to always have a safe home because knowing a toddler they will still put something in their mouth even if you tell them not to. So always be on the lookout for small items and soft thing that could potentially hurt an infant or toddler.
The second hazard, drowning is the second major cause for death in children under five (Robertson. 2013). It is essential under any condition to always have direct adult supervision when an infant or toddler is near any amount of water. Drowning can occur in a very small amount of water such as a water bowl for a pet. A curious infant or toddler could lose balance and fall face into it. Even a toilet with the seat left up could be hazardous for a toddler who is curious and falls into it. Some safety measures you could follow would be to never leave standing water in anything even the sink and bathtub, to also never leave an infant or toddler unattended near any amount of water. Never leave an infant or toddler in the bath alone even if they are strapped to a bath seat. When your toddler is ready and older enough teach them about water safety and how to use a toddler lifejacket near a pool. Even starting parent and infant swim lessons can be useful, then do toddler swim lessons. It is so important to always be vigilant when it comes to water and the potentially drowning hazards that surround it.
The third hazard, poisonous chemicals can be found in every home and childcare center. Cleaning supplies, cosmetics, hygiene products and medicines can extremely dangerous for an infant and toddler who is too young to even begin to understand what these items are used for. Infants and toddlers are very curious and leaving a cosmetic item like anti-aging cream were they can reach it and potentially put into their mouth or eyes is very dangerous and can cause them to become sick. Ingesting any of the items above can be seriously dangerous for an infant and toddler. Some measures you can take to insure an infant and toddler do not get into these poisonous chemicals would be to keep them locked up, kept up high in a cabinet or to not have them in your home at all (Robertson. 2013). You should post the poison control number next to the phone in case of an emergency. Another precaution you could chose to do is have your child tested for lead poison during regular checkups to be sure your infant or toddler hasn’t gotten a hold of something that has lead in it. You could also buy safe nonchemical art supplies for your toddler to ensure no poisoning happens if your child happens to put a painted hand in their mouth. Always be cautious with potentially poisonous items around infants and toddler.
The fourth hazard, electrical items can cause serious physical injury to an infant or toddler if not kept properly. Electrical outlets that are not covered can shock a curious infant or toddler if they touch it. An electrical cord with exposed wires could also shock them. There are multiple safety measure you can take to ensure an infant or toddler does not touch get shocked. Keep electrical cords out of reach by wrapping them up and under a table or behind a cabinet. Making sure these electrical cords are being properly cared for to ensure no breaks are exposing live wires. Use shock stops to cover used and unused electrical outlets (Robertson. 2013). Always having supervision in areas with electrical items is important.
The fifth hazard, falls are a huge concern with infants and toddlers. The most common falls for infants and toddler are falling down the stairs when using an infant walker, falls from changing tables and falls from chairs, couches or beds (Robertson. 2013). An infant can wiggle, move, and push, rollover, crawl, and creep. An infant can fall off a changing table even if the safety strap is used. Some safety precautions you can take are using safety gates on stairs and never leaving and infant unattended on a changing table. Use window guards and keep furniture away from windows so a toddler won’t climb them and open the window. Keep doors to cellar, attics and porches locked at all times. Families with children learning to walk should use corner cushions on furniture with sharp corners. If they have slippery hard wood or tile floors use socks with friction pads on the bottoms so they don’t slip and fall or let them be barefoot. Always be looking for potential falling hazards in your home and child care center and be sure to use safety measures.
These five potentially hazardous situation and safety threats are some of the most common risks that could affect an infant or toddlers safety. If caregivers and parents are well-informed of these potential hazards and equipped with the safety measures to prevent and prepare for a safety emergency, the chance of injury to the infant or toddler becomes preventable and controllable.
Robertson, C. (2013). Safety, nutrition, and health in early education (5th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning.