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First Steps – Walking Safety for Your Toddler

by Health Tip

When your child starts exploring on two legs, it’s instinctive to want to keep them safe. Just remember, your toddler is toddling around in an attempt to learn about the world and that’s a crucial aspect of development. So here are some things you can do to help keep your littlest one safe in the big world.

  • Follow your safety instincts in your home
    • Add baby gates to stairways, cover electrical outlets, move sharp and heavy objects further back on the counters and table tops
    • Add locks to cabinets with breakables or chemicals – even if they are only accessible to your child via climbing – because they will climb!
    • Make sure shelving units are bolted solidly into the wall so they won’t fall if your child decides to climb on them or pull everything off the bottom shelves
    • If you have tablecloths or runners, consider removing them. To your child, they may look like good things to pull on or use to stand up with
    • Depending on the kinds of furniture you have, you may want to add corner bumpers so your child’s head and face are protected from them
  • Supervise, don’t micromanage
    • Keep an eye on your toddler, but if a fall is just going to cause a thump on a diapered rear end, it is okay to let it happen. Your child will get stronger the more he or she gets up and down, and will learn about stability this way
    • If your child wants to clank pots and pans around, or wants to try stomping around in your shoes, let it happen! Your child is learning about sights, sounds, colors, shapes and more all at the same time. In the process, they are learning to move like you do
  • Don’t hesitate to correct problems
    • If your child does something dangerous, unhealthy or destructive — sticking objects in his/her nose, throwing things at another person or child, eating chalk — offer immediate but gentle instructions, not punishment, about the proper use of objects
    • It’s important to your child’s emotional and mental development that you don’t overreact to these situations – even to dangerous ones. You want your toddler to try new things, but also to develop a healthy respect for dangerous situations
    • Sometimes it just isn’t the right time for your child to grasp the “proper use” of an object. If that’s the case, offer a replacement activity and move on from whatever the issue was. You’ll have opportunities to come back to it later when you can reinforce your message

When Accidents Happen

If your toddler ends up with something stuck in his or her nose or ear, a broken bone or another injury that a kiss and Band-Aid can’t fix, we’re here for you. If it’s an emergency, you should call 911 or go to the ER. If it’s just a minor bump or bruise, or if you’ve had an ER visit, call your pediatrician to make an appointment.

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