How to keep your children safe: babies, toddlers, and teens, oh my!
How do you keep your little ones safe? From the moment they're born to when they head off into the wide world, there are many dangers they face. Single Dad, Daniel Sherwin, gives his tried and tested ways to keep them safe always.
Being a single parent is hard work and it takes someone with the strength of Wonder Woman (or Superman) to get it done. But even the best mum or dad needs guidance sometimes. Here are a few ideas on how to keep your kids safe from the first pair of pyjamas to their first broken heart.
• Chemicals. Babies begin to crawl sometime around their 7th month. This means lots of exploration and there is no better place to plan an expedition than the kitchen. But that’s a dangerous place for a baby. Chemicals and poisonous or toxic substances, such as toilet bowl and window cleaners, oven cleaners, bleach, paint thinner, dish soap, etc., should be kept in a locked cabinet, in a cabinet that is secured with a child-proof safety latch, or in a location that is elevated.
• Safe sleep. Sleep is a peaceful state for babies but one with its own set of silent dangers. His or her nursery should, according to Angie’s List, be baby-proofed with window guards and electrical outlet covers, among other things. Your baby’s pyjamas should be snug and well-fitted, made of fireproof materials, and free of small buttons and fasteners.
• Hazards overhead and below. Toddler run everywhere and they aren’t the best at keeping an eye out for obstacles. This means lots of run-ins with countertops, cabinet doors, and anything else that hovers just at head level. Get down to your child’s line of sight to observe things that might cause a head injury and add foam bumpers to hard or sharp edges. The fireplace also poses a threat so don’t overlook the hearth.
• Bath. Baby Centre explains that toddlers should never be unsupervised in the bathroom. Their propensity for investigation make an open toilet and irresistible drowning hazard. A non-slip mat will reduce the risk of falls. It’s difficult to manage everything when you don’t have a helping hand, but avoid the temptation to multitask by cooking and cleaning while your little one is bathing.
• Cold and flu. Your child’s first line of defense against the cold and flu season is proper handwashing. But even the most diligent hand washer is still at risk of catching a viral infection from his classmates. Independent’s recent article about cold and flu prevention explains that the flu jab, while not 100% effective, can lower the severity of an influenza infection. Otherwise healthy school-aged children should receive this important vaccine once each season
• Accidents. As children become more and more independent, they are also at a greater risk of suffering from an accidents such as drowning, poisoning, and burns. Talk with your child about responsibility and make sure they have a keen understanding of what behaviors are allowed when they are not within arm’s reach. There are many things you can do to prevent mishaps and injuries, including ensuring that they are in a properly-sized safety seat when inside a moving vehicle. Teaching responsibility to your child is paramount when you are the only adult in the household.
• Online safety. The advent of the internet has also brought forth a new danger our own parents never had to worry about: online safety. Teach your teens and tweens to never offer personal information or make plans to meet someone they communicate with online that they do not already know in a brick and mortar setting.
• Sexuality. Maintain an open and revolving conversation on the topic of intimacy and love and listen carefully to gauge your child understanding of sexual relations. Discuss safe sexual practices, abstinence, and reinforce the fact that they are in control of their bodies and need not succumb to peer pressure. This is a difficult conversation to have, especially when you’re a single parent of an opposite gender child, but one that could potentially protect him or her from negative long-term consequences.
While this is no means a comprehensive illustration of the challenges you will face a single parent, the above tips may help you keep your child safe. Ultimately, only you know what is best for your family and there will be other issues you’ll tackle. Have faith in yourself and in the decisions you make to keep your children safe from birth on.
Daniel is a single dad raising two children. At DadSolo.com, he aims to provide other single dads with information and resources to help them better equip themselves on the journey that is parenthood.