For many of us in the U.S., February is a time of doldrums due to yucky weather and shorter days. It’s an even bigger challenge when you have little ones at home who have as much energy now as they do in July! Although my two are all grown up now, I remember well the bouncing off of the furniture and walls when it was too wet/cold/muddy/windy/snowy/etc. to go outside and play.
And all of that extra time indoors means more opportunities for accidents to happen around the home!
If your little ones are going through some winter-induced cabin fever and they’re a bit more rambunctious than usual around the home, take a quick review of your home to ensure it’s as safe as you think it is for tripping toddlers and precocious preschoolers. To help, here’s a partial list of things to consider:
The curiosity of kids almost guarantees they will pull something over someday. Make sure anything that’s heavy and can hurt them (like a television or stereo) is either out of reach or in some way connected to a wall or stand. Also watch out for tablecloths and runners hanging over the edges of tables within reach of little hands, and keep those electric cords connected to lamps beyond their grasp too. Think of it this way: If gravity can have an effect on it, so can your kid.
When little ones aren’t busy causing objects to fall, they’re likely falling themselves. Some of this falling can’t be helped. The toddler learning to walk and run is going to fall; it’s part of the process. But we can minimize the injuries! Make sure area rugs aren’t trip hazards (or slip hazards!). If a child could fall into a piece of furniture like the corner of a coffee table, take steps to prevent it. It might be the coffee table goes into the garage for a few weeks until the little legs get more stable!
Also remember to use baby gates at the tops and bottoms of stairs (and they are handy for keeping little ones out of the kitchen too when you’re cooking!). Keep windows shut and locked. And if they’re just about crawling out of that crib, you’re probably ready to move them to a toddler bed. Better to make that adjustment before they start taking tumbles out and on to the floor below!
You might also want to lay down some rules about playing on and jumping on furniture. As we said above, many kids are more energetic than winter weather allows, and getting rambunctious indoors is normal. But a fall from a sofa or bed is going to be a more serious one as they have farther to fall before hitting the floor.
Although we as parents want to encourage our kids’ curiosity, we have to balance that against the dangers inherent in our homes—and takes steps to prevent those inquiring minds from getting hurt, especially when bored kids with boundless energy are housebound. And to do this, you really have to think like a child, seeing things (a.k.a. temptations) from their points of view. Even the innocuous liquid laundry packet is a danger.
As your baby becomes more mobile, or your toddler taller, or your preschooler more inquisitive, you will have to stay one step ahead at all times, keeping anything even remotely dangerous out of reach, even if that means putting a lock on the cabinet where your cleaning supplies are stored. All of this is even more important when kids are stuck inside with plenty of time on their hands for getting into mischief.
Consider every little thing they could possibly get in to, assume they will, and take action to prevent it. Period.
At our household these days, the oldest is on his own and the youngest is a senior in high school (meaning the only time she’s bouncing off the walls is when she’s in a teen aged hormone-induced temper). The only one pestering me to go outside and play despite the winter weather is the 100-pound pooch who is actually very well mannered in the house (but as energetic as a toddler!). But well do I remember those days and the occasional bruised shin or bump on the head when I didn’t keep the home as safe as I could have. So put these tips to use to keep your own little ones safe, and let’s hope for an early spring.