Just because your little one is small or not walking yet doesn’t mean they can’t go to the playground. In fact, you may be helping your child’s development as they explore new play areas like the swings, sandbox, and slide.
It’s also a great spot to meet new baby friends!
Gross motor skills like learning how to roll, crawl, and climb, can all be prioritized at the playground. Coordination, muscle development and social skills are always being learned at a playground.
With some supervision, a playground can be such a fun way to expose babies and toddlers to the outside world.
First, do a sweep of the play area for any unsafe objects or equipment. Check for broken pieces of toys, or garbage that may seem intriguing to your little ones. Remember to avoid wearing drawstrings, scarves, or necklaces when playing with your child at the park as those can often get snagged on play equipment.
With babies and toddlers who are not walking yet, you may way to avoid play areas that have hotter surfaces like asphalt or concrete. Double check surface temperatures before letting babies explore. Seeking out surfaces like sand, rubber or wood chips can help reduce fall or tripping injuries, too. Sometimes it can be easy to overlook the other safety issues when your baby isn’t walking yet, but you should still keep these in mind:
- Help your baby slide by holding on to them while you stand off to the side of the slide. While it can seem fun and cute to slide with your baby, unless the slide is specifically designed for two or more people where you can slide beside them, sliding with a baby on your lap can increase the risk of their legs or arms getting trapped or twisted along the way.
- Pay attention to the drops at the bottom of the slides. Some are faster and taller than others. This can be dangerous for little ones and can also cause fear if they are startled by sudden drops or bump their heads in the landing.
- Always encourage feet first down the slides for safety.
- If there are safety buckles on the swings or games at your playground, use them!
- Remind them not to get too close to the swings when they are in use. Take a wide walk around to show them how far out they should be to avoid getting bumped over by a child on a swing.
- Climb with help. Most accidents at playgrounds occur because of a lack of supervising. Not to say the parents aren’t watching but perhaps they just aren’t close enough to catch their little one before they slip or fall. Help guide your little one up the ladders or ropes and stay near by while they are mastering this skill.
- Encourage sitting on equipment that is meant for sitting (swings and slides) and encourage walking or not stopping on equipment that is meant to move the flow of the children through the equipment. Lots of little fingers have been squished by sitting down on the walking paths. If your child wants to sit and play on the equipment, try to move them off to a quieter area, or one with a larger foot path.
Practicing these safety tips can never start too early. Babies and toddlers can learn to wait their turn or to sit on their bums before they slide. It may take a little patience, but they will be benefit from these safety tips for years to come!