Managing Your “Village”
"It takes a village to raise a child." It's true! Think about parents, step-parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends, neighbors and other caregivers. It's best for everyone if the members of the village share some common practices - especially when it comes to safety.
With a paid babysitter, it's easy to tick off a list of safety rules and expectations. But it can be awkward to do this with friends and family who'll be caring for your child. So have a relaxed conversation when there's plenty of time to talk. You can approach the topic by saying something like "You've obviously done a great job raising your own kids, and I'm grateful that you are part of our lives. There are so many safety issues to consider, I'd really like us to talk about them." (This conversation is likely to open the door to other important areas like nutrition, discipline and screen time. This is a good thing!)
When it comes to child safety, grandparents and other caregivers may not be aware of all the current practices. A few of the many topics you'll want to cover include: putting infants to sleep on their backs in a completely bare crib; toy safety; car seats and booster seats; riding in the back seat until age 13; and helmet safety rules. For any caregivers - and especially those who haven't cared for a child in their home recently - be sure they lock away all medicines and firearms. And don't forget pets: if their dog or cat is not tolerant of children, talk about how they'll be kept separate. If your child has food allergies, be sure that their caregiver understands this is a serious medical condition, and not simply your child being a "picky eater." Also make sure caregivers are up-to-date on their immunizations.
Parents who live apart find it's essential to have duplicate safety gear in each parent's home and car. The same goes for others who regularly care for your little one. For example, if someone drives your child to and from school each day, they should definitely have their own car seat or booster seat. If your baby sleeps at a caregiver's home, there should be a safe crib there.
You and your child are lucky to be part of a caring village. A bit of thoughtful communication and cooperation will ensure you are all working together!
Preventing Falls From Windows
Warmer weather means open windows, and more risk of children falling out of them. Window falls are a common cause of serious injuries and death, and children ages 2 to 5 are at the greatest risk. The safest windows are those that open from the top down, but many homes don't have these styles. It's simple to install window stops or guards, which you can buy at hardware stores and online. (An adult can release them in case of emergency.) In the meantime, only open windows less than four inches.
Know that window screens keep bugs out but don't keep kids in! Also, to prevent a child from climbing up to access a window, move any nearby objects or furniture away from it.
Sliding Solo Is Safer
Toddlers who ride down a slide on an adult's lap are more apt to break a leg than when they go solo. Here's how it happens: Imagine a child seated on the parent's lap with their legs free. As they slide down, the child's rubber-soled shoe catches on the side of the slide and gets stuck. The downward force of the adult's weight behind the child causes the leg to jam and break. On the other hand, if a child is sliding alone and their foot catches, they simply stop and reposition their foot, or the foot comes free as their body twists around it. If your little one is afraid to ride solo, start them halfway down the slide and walk beside them. You can even hold onto them from the side.
Parents Must Be Aware of Cyberbullying
Face-to-face bullying has been around forever. Technology has brought a new problem: cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is bullying that happens via cell-phone text messaging and on the Internet, especially on social networking sites. Cyberbullies may harass their victims with mean or threatening messages, and post nasty comments about them. Many cyberbullies remain anonymous, while others let their identities be known.
Cyberbullying is common. A study in 2010 revealed that one in five adolescents had either been cyberbullied, or had themselves been the cyberbully. (That number is likely higher today.) In general, boys are more often physically bullied, while girls are more apt to be emotionally bullied and socially excluded, which is easy for cyberbullies to do.
Cyberbullying can be one kid picking on another. And sometimes, a group of troublemakers will target one or more other kids. Victims of cyberbullying may be viewed as somehow different, whether physically or personality-wise. However, attractive and popular kids - especially girls - may be targeted by others who want to "take them down."
Schools are struggling to deal with cyberbullying. Since it often occurs outside of school, school leaders may be quite limited in what they can do. Therefore, parents must often be the ones to help their child.
Since many kids won't tell anyone they're being cyberbullied, parents must be aware of their child's use of technology, watch for changes in mood or behavior, and raise the topic directly. What can parents do if their child is being cyberbullied? You can research this complex issue and work with your child to create a plan of action tailored to the situation. Although your child may at first resist, let them know you are ready to help them find a solution.
Safe Fun by the Water
Playing in and on the water is one of the great joys of summer. Here are some tips for keeping school-aged kids confident and safe:
- Teach your child to swim - many public pools offer reasonably priced lessons throughout the year.
- Always have an adult in charge - no matter how well your child swims, an adult must be watching at all times.
- Swim in lifeguarded areas.
- Wear a life jacket on boats and when swimming or playing in open water.
- Teach your child about water hazards like river currents, cold water, slippery river banks and ocean rip currents.
Set clear rules and model good behavior and everyone can relax and enjoy!
Check out our other resources that can help you keep your family safe in and around the water.
Be Sensible with Sippy Cups
Sippy cups are a great invention. They're easy to clean and fill, they prevent spills, and they help wean a child from a bottle or nursing. However, parents must consider how and when to use them. As with bottles, water and milk are best for sippy cups. Remember to clean your little one's gums and teeth regularly to prevent cavities, especially after they have fruit juice. Sippy cups are ideal for meal times, and to offer water while your child is seated in a stroller. However, don't give a sippy cup to a child on the move. Toddlers who fall while walking or running with a sippy cup in their mouths can seriously injure themselves. Aim to have your child using a regular cup by age 1.
To learn more, visit wellness topics for babies and young toddlers.
Sunscreen for Kids
Whenever your child is outside in the daytime - even on cloudy days - protect them with sunscreen. Choose one that protects against UVA and UVB rays with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 to 30. Apply it 30 minutes before going outside, and reapply every two hours, and after being in the water or sweating.
Keep children under age 1 out of the sun as much as possible; cover their heads and dress them in lightweight, light-colored long sleeves and long pants. Babies under 6 months can have a bit of sunscreen put on their faces and the backs of their hands, but be careful it doesn't get in their eyes or mouth.
Be prepared by stashing extra sunscreen in your car, stroller and backpack.
Check out more summer safety tips.