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Playing it Safe With Your Toddler at the Playground

Playing it Safe With Your Toddler at the Playground

We moms just want our kids to have fun. But we also know that with every baby step towards independence comes increased risk for our children, especially with toddlers, for whom everything is a new adventure or discovery.

Moms like Jodie K. say they are excited for their toddlers to head to the playground, but concerned for their safety.

“When I saw the playground equipment I was sick to my stomach,” says Jodie K., a member of the Moms of Toddlers, about a recent trek with her three-year-old to the preschool play lot. Her concerns stem from two towers with slides and fire poles. “The standing platform is about nine feet tall with open sides, where it would be easy to fall. I have almost considered not sending her (to preschool). Am I being ridiculous?


Safety experts and other Circle of Moms say probably not.

While playgrounds are fun and an important place to enjoy the great outdoors with your toddler, not all of them are safe places for very small children. Each year in the United States, hospital emergency departments treat more than 215,000 children for playground-related injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

But careful planning, parental oversight and proper maintenance of your child at the playground can increase toddler safety.

Safe Kids USA, a nationwide network of organizations working to prevent unintentional childhood injury, has some great tips for parents on keeping one-to-four year-olds safe on the playground, including:

1. Consider a playground's safety from the perspective of a child: With so much to explore, every part of the playground is an enticing new discovery for toddlers, so when you look for safety concerns, think through the eyes of a child. Consider what they might want to put into their mouths (for example rocks, or how they might want to climb the stairs, but they are not safe for them to do so without you holding their hands.)

2. Design matters: Make sure that the playground surface protects your child when they fall. The ground beneath the play equipment should be soft, made from sand, wood chips or recycled rubber and not cement. Bars should be placed so that young children can’t get their heads stuck in them. Also make sure equipment is sturdy enough so children can’t tip it over and that there are no sharp edges, protruding bars or loose ropes.

3. Make sure equipment is age appropriate. This especially applies to a play area you may build in your back yard, where you install equipment that is for their age group. For example, play areas for children six months through 23 months should offer places where children can have space to move and explore. Play areas for children two to five should offer areas with smaller steps and crawl spaces.

4. Remove hood and neck drawstrings from all children’s outerwear to avoid strangulation hazards.

5. Become trained in emergency first aid and CPR. It is smart for parents to train themselves so that they are prepared in an emergency. Classes in emergency first aid and CPR are available through local park districts, hospitals and other organizations.

6. Teach proper playground behavior: no pushing, shoving or crowding.

7. Keep toddlers under age five in a separate play area fenced off from equipment designed for older children.

Circle of Moms community member Rhonda S. also says moms should express any playground safety concerns to the park district or director. And Tiffany D. suggests having your child finger printed. But the single most important rule for playground safety, experts from Safe Kids USA say, is supervision: Never leave your young child unsupervised in the backyard or at the playground.

Image Source: AckersonFamily via Flickr/Creative Commons

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

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