Explorers need especially careful supervision for safety. Parents who do not abuse or neglect their children keep them safe by doing the following:
Childproofing their homes. One effective way to evaluate the safety in every room the child can enter is to lie on your stomach and see the exciting environment from the child's point of view. Remove or secure all dangerous attractions, especially cords and outlets, household chemicals, soaps, and medications.
Carefully adding solids to their diets. New foods should be added slowly so that unusual reactions can be more easily noted. Food should be cut into very small pieces to prevent choking. Grapes and hot dogs are two of the most frequent causes of choking in children of this age.
Refusing to allow children this age to eat nuts. If choked on, nuts can cause serious lung damage.
Refraining from using walkers. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that walkers not be used because of the high number of accidents they cause.
Carefully supervising play with older children, who sometimes hit or bite a younger sibling who is exploring their favorite possessions.
Removing fragile, breakable objects from the explorer's environment for these few months.
Refusing to leave a child alone in a house or car.
Carefully supervising a child in a shopping cart.
Always using a car seat when traveling with a child in a car.
Using caring, nonsexual touch when changing the active child's diapers. Children learn about the acceptability of their genitalia by having the genitalia cleaned in a gentle, nonstimulating way. Touching a child in a sexually stimulating way is always wrong.
Safely, caringly changing diapers. Children this age would prefer to explore than quietly cooperate with diapering. It is important that they be in a safe spot where they can't squirm and harm themselves and that parents use only nurturing and nonviolent touch when changing these squirming, active little ones.
Making certain that other adults who care for the child know how to support the child's need to explore. Ask them to think from a child's point of view and to figure out ways to protect the child without hitting the child or using harsh words.
Allowing the child to be around water only with constant adult supervision. Toddlers have drowned in toilets or buckets of water while parents answered a "quick phone call."
Monitoring outside play with very careful structure for the safety of these active explorers.
Children 18 months to 2 years old:
The methods of protecting children this age are a continuation of "Keeping Toddlers Safe." Because children this age are developing their thinking skills, it is important for parents to explain WHY they are keeping the child safe. Remember to add the "WHY" when you set limits for your child.
If you suspect abuse of any kind, find a way to protect your child. Get help if you need it. Report the abuser to the child protection service in your area.
Christine Ternand, M.D.
Source: HELP! For Parents of Children from Birth to Five: Tried and True Solutions to Parents' Everyday Problems, author Jean Illsley Clarke, First rev ised Edition, 1993
Copyright 2000 by Jean Illsley Clarke, Self-Esteem: A Family Affair, All Rights Reserved.