How to Keep Your Toddler Safe

Accidents are--by far--the leading cause of death for children under 4 years old. Taking an ounce of prevention can help prevent accidental injuries from occurring. We’ve compiled safety tips from experts below to help you keep your child safe.

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Car Safety

Car crashes are the number one type of accidents that harm young children. Make sure you follow recommended car seat guidelines, which can greatly decrease injury. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under two sit in rear-facing car seats in the back seat, which greatly increases their safety. In fact, children under two are 75% less likely to die or be severely injured in a crash if they ride rear-facing. At two years old, transition your child to a front-facing car seat with a harness, and when she exceeds the weight limits for your seat, use a booster to ensure that your car’s seatbelts fit your child properly. Here is a list of locations in New Jersey where you can have your car seat checked and/or installed properly at no cost. You can also see the AAP’s Car Seat Guidelines for more specific information.

Never leave your child alone in a car, not for a moment. Even in moderate temperatures, car interiors can become very hot, and children can suffer dehydration, heat stroke, and even death. Create a system to make sure you check the backseat before leaving the car, like leaving your purse or briefcase next to your baby. If you see another toddler left alone in a car, call 911 right away.

Choking or Poisoning

Between natural curiosity and teething, toddlers are likely to grab things and put them in their mouths, which could cause choking. Anything that fits in their airway--food, toys, small objects--is a danger. Child-proofing your home is necessary. Cabinet locks, doorknob covers and other devices are helpful. Also, try to see things from your child’s perspective. Get down on your hands and knees and check for items that may have fallen under furniture or are easily within their reach. Be sure the toys they play with do not have small pieces that can be ingested. For meals, encourage them to sit down and eat, even during snacking. Make sure all food items you serve are cut up and can be swallowed.

The Heimlich Maneuver is performed differently on infants and toddlers than adults. Here are guidelines from Parenting magazine detailing the different procedures. You can also search for pediatric first-aid classes offered by the Red Cross or community-based organizations near you. Learn the steps depending on your child’s age should an emergency arise.

Falls

Walking is still a new skill for toddlers, so they may not be steady on their feet, which can lead to falls. Toddlers are also likely to test their limits by climbing and exploring, and the combination of the two can be dangerous.

Child-proofing is again essential. Place baby gates over stairs and lock doors which lead to dangerous places, such as a basement or garage. Install window guards on all windows, Get anti-tip kits for heavy furniture that can fall over on a climbing toddler, like dressers. Install safety rails on toddler beds. Do not use bunk beds until children are at least 6 years old.

Baby walkers are not recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics because of the danger of falling. They also may discourage your baby from walking on his own and do not help with development.

For more resources on child safety and accident prevention, visit the Center for Disease Control’s web site.