While the risk of SIDS is greatly reduced by the time an infant reaches the age of one, parents of toddlers should still be concerned about and take action to ensure their child’s safety. The three greatest steps a parent can take are to make the crib/bed safe, childproof the room for mobile toddlers, and monitor their toddler.
Make Their Crib/Bed Safe
You can breathe a sigh of relief when your child turns one that your fears of SIDS haven’t come true, but don’t get careless with your toddler’s nighttime safety. Suffocation is still a risk that you should take steps to minimize. Don’t let your toddler sleep with too many toys, especially plush toys or stuffed animals. Don’t put any toys with ropes or strings near the bed. While your child can now sleep with a blanket, continue to limit blankets, quilting, and other bedding to what is necessary. Try to wait until your child is at least 18 months old to introduce a pillow, and only do so when the pillow will help them be more comfortable and sleep better, which may not be until they are three years or more. All of these actions can protect from suffocation and give you peace of mind when your little one is sleeping.
One of the biggest questions parents of toddlers face is when to transfer their child to a “big boy” or “big girl” bed. For safety, wait as long as you can for this transition. Many parents make the switch when their son or daughter starts climbing out of his/her crib. While it’s easier to control what a toddler gets into from a crib, your child could get hurt by falling when climbing out of his/her crib, so the actions of escape artistry are good signs to make the switch. With a toddler bed, you will still need to be concerned about safety. Keep up your precautions against suffocation. Put toddler rails on the sides of the bed so your child doesn’t fall out. And be sure to childproof the room so your toddler can be safe at any hour.
Childproof Their Room
You may worry about your toddler getting into trouble while they’re alone in their room, and these fears can be well-founded. When your child can get out if his/her crib at will, things that posed no threat because they were far from the crib are suddenly hazards you need to deal with.
One of your top priorities needs to be the safety of the furniture in your child’s room. Every year many toddlers are injured from pulling furniture over on top of themselves, and too many of these preventable accidents are fatal. Check whether each piece of furniture can bear the full weight of your toddler if he/ she were to climb on it. Play it safe by anchoring furniture to the wall with specially-designed straps. And clear anything that would fall if pulled or shaken. Also consider covering the sides of sharp edges and corners on furniture that could cause serious damage if your child fell onto them.
Use a hand sander to smooth the corner edges of walls. Check for other sharp corners that need to be smoothed as it can prevent a serious bruise on their head if they directly hit the wall corner. If your hand sander is not working, you can find the right parts to repair it here.
Turn a keen eye to anything else in the room that could be a hazard. This includes electrical outlets. At minimum protect your child against electrical shock by using outlet plugs. These may not be enough, though, if your child can mimic you and knows how to take them out. Consider investing in special outlet covers for top safety. Also, you may want to cover up any exposed cords if your child is likely to pull them out. And finally, think of whether any toys are too dangerous to allow easy access to (again, ones with strings may be big concerns), and put these where your child can only play them with under supervision.
You may feel like your childproofing is a little excessive, but you can never be too safe when protecting your kids. It only takes one curious night for your child to get seriously injured, so prevent dangers before you are forced to respond to them.
Monitor Your Child
This one may go without saying, but many parents may need the reminder. You may have been okay letting your child play safely in their crib, but a child can get into a lot more trouble with a whole room to explore. You can use a video monitor to keep an eye on your son/daughter, and check on them frequently if you know they’re awake. Be ready to intervene as the need arises.
No parent can stop worrying completely about their toddler being safe at night. But following these tips will help you minimize threats and hazards and give you peace of mind that your child is safe in his or her room at any time of day or night.