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Keeping toddlers safe

Keeping toddlers safe

Toddlers need to have a safe environment. They are too young to know how to behave safely. Telling them and teaching them about danger does not keep them safe. Keeping toddlers safe is your responsibility.

Keep a first aid kit in the house and car. Keep emergency phone numbers in easy reach and where everyone (including baby sitters) knows where to look. Do a first aid course for children if you can. Discuss safety with grandparents and other carers.


Falls are the major cause of toddler injury.
  • Pad sharp corners of furniture or round them off.
  • Make sure that furniture, such as television sets can not fall over.
  • Use barrier gates or lock doors to stop your child going into dangerous places, such as stairs.
  • Don’t have bunk beds when there are toddlers in the house.
  • Use the harness in the high chair and pusher.
  • Don’t leave young children alone on change tables, high chairs, playground equipment etc.
  • Teach your toddler how to climb down as she is learning to climb up.

Traffic safety

  • Make fences and gates toddler-proof.
  • Toddlers need to be held when they are near roads. They may begin to remember rules about crossing roads but they are unable to understand them, no matter how many times they are told.
  • When you are moving the car at home, it is safest to have your child in the car, so she cannot be run over.

keeping toddlers safe

Car safety

  • Babies, toddlers and children must have properly fitted and approved child restraints or child safety seats. Use a child restraint, suitable for the child’s age, size and weight, on every trip.
  • Always stop the car when you need to turn around to attend to your child in the back seat. It is so easy to get distracted and have an accident.
  • Make sure that there is nothing loose on the dashboard, the parcel shelf, or the floor (even a box of tissues can do a lot of harm in an accident).
  • Never put anything heavy in the back of a hatchback or station wagon unless it is secured strongly.
  • Never leave babies and children alone in cars.
  • Children get bored and can explore the car’s knobs and buttons which can lead to dangers.
  • Children can become distressed or may try to struggle free from their seatbelts and become injured.
  • Children may be in danger of someone trying to steal the car with them in it.
  • Children can become seriously ill when temperatures in cars change quickly in summer and winter.

Burns and scalds

  • Never drink hot drinks such as tea and coffee while carrying or nursing your toddler.
  • Keep hot things well back from the edge of tables. Turn saucepan handles away from the edge of the stove. Use a stove guard.
  • Use placemats instead of tablecloths.
  • Have short or curly electric cords that don’t hang over the side of benches.
  • Be careful of hot irons and cords dangling when ironing.
  • Remember that many toddlers can light matches and lighters, and unscrew the globes of the Christmas tree lights.
  • To help prevent scalding from hot water, make sure that the hot water for your bath, shower and basin comes out at 50 degrees Centigrade or less. You can attach a tap protector directly to the tap, or your plumber can install a device which automatically mixes cold water with the hot, to limit the delivery temperature. The water heater itself should maintain stored water at 60 degrees Centigrade minimum.
  • Run cold water into the bath first.
  • If a child has a burn or scald, cool the burnt area under running cold water for at least 20 minutes. Never use ice to cool the skin. If the burn is bigger than about a 20 cent piece, see a doctor.
  • Use fireguards for open fires, gas or oil heaters, pot belly stoves and radiators.
  • Have a fire extinguisher or fire blanket in the kitchen.
keeping toddlers safe


Toddlers explore everywhere they can reach and still put things into their mouths. They cannot understand poison signs.
  • Keep kitchen and laundry detergents out of reach, best in a locked cupboard. Dishwasher powder is very dangerous.
  • Use a child resistant medicine cupboard for all medicines (including oral contraceptives).
  • Check that visitors, including grandparents, don’t leave bags with tablets in them within your child’s reach. Also don’t put any medicines in your bedside table drawers.
  • Lock garden products away.
  • Keep poisons in their original, labelled containers. Never put poisons into food or drink containers.
  • Put locks on shed doors and keep them shut.
  • Write the Poisons Information number (0800 764 766) next to your telephone.

Choking and suffocating

  • Check that there are no small objects or coins left lying around. Watch for small batteries from things like cameras.
  • Don’t give your child hard pieces of food such as nuts, apple or raw carrot to chew. Give cooked or grated vegetables. Toddlers should sit down and be supervised when eating.
  • Don’t force your child to eat anything he does not want.
  • Tie empty plastic bags with a knot in the middle so that they cannot be put over your child’s head.
  • Cords or ribbons on toys, dummies and clothing should be short (less than 10cm) so they can’t choke your child.
  • Cords on curtains and blinds need to be short or secured out of reach.
  • Replace dummies before they are worn.
  • Some old or antique cots and high chairs are not safe for young children.

Water safety

Most children who drown are under four years old. Drowning happens very quickly and quietly. Young children can drown in only a few centimetres of water. Teaching your toddler to swim will not prevent drowning.
  • Stay with your child whenever he is near or in water, such as the bath, paddle pools, buckets or at the beach, near creeks, rivers, swimming pools and dams.
  • Keep a lid on all nappy buckets and keep them out of reach.
  • Water can collect in all sorts of things after rain. Empty them!
  • Make sure that the paddle pool is emptied after every use.
  • All other pools should be fenced, with a self-locking, self-closing gate. There should be nothing near the fence that a toddler could use to climb on.

Toys and play

  • Check toys and play equipment regularly for sharp edges, splinters and loose parts.
  • The surface under climbing frames and swings should be soft and impact absorbing.
  • Toys for young children should not have small, loose parts that can be broken off and swallowed. Keep older children’s toys with small pieces (marbles, building sets etc) away from toddlers.
  • Baby walkers often cause injuries and should not be used.


Use an earth leakage circuit breaker in your fuse box or switchboard. It will switch the power off if there is an electrical fault and prevent injury. It needs to be installed by an electrician.
  • Buy covers for power points to stop toddlers poking things into them.
  • Don’t use electric blankets for young children.
  • Be careful of electrical appliances near water - it is easy to get electrocuted.
  • Put all electrical appliances away after use.
  • Use only wall-mounted heaters in bathrooms and install them up high.
keeping toddlers safe


  • Whenever possible keep children in the shade. Teach them to play in the shade.
  • Make sure that their favourite play areas are shaded.
  • Children can get sunburnt even on cold, cloudy summer days.
  • Sunlight through the glass of car windows can burn the skin.
  • In the sun use a hat and clothing that covers arms and legs, such as cover-up bathers.
  • Sunscreen can be used in small amounts on young children on areas that are not covered by clothing. Some sunscreens irritate the eyes and sensitive skin. It needs to be re-applied often. Zinc cream is an effective sun block.


  • Never leave babies and young children alone in the car while you shop.
  • Supermarket shopping carts can tip up, especially if a toddler pulls on them or jumps around in them.
  • Don’t let young children wander in the aisles while you shop.

Farm safety

There are many safety issues for children on farms with dams, machinery, chemicals, workshops and sheds with equipment, animals and vehicles.

Passive smoking

It’s easy to protect your children from passive smoking - make your home and car smoke-free. Avoid smoking around children. Chemicals in cigarettes and tobacco smoke can affect children’s health. Children are more likely to smoke if they see you smoking.


  • The most common cause of problems with toddlers is adults expecting them to do things they are not yet able to do.
  • Your toddler needs to test out her independence - and to know you are there for comfort.
  • It is a struggle for your toddler to learn to be independent - he needs encouragement and your patience.
  • Try to avoid having battles - give simple choices to your toddler.
  • Focus on the things about your toddler that please you and tell her often!
  • Ignore things that don’t matter too much and be firm on the important things such as health and safety.

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