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Michael Lee, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics at UT Southwestern Medical Center and pediatrician at Children’s Medical Center Dallas

Toddler Playground Safety Advice?

How can I keep my toddler safe on the playground?

Unplug! The number one safety related problem on playgrounds isn’t big, bad playground equipment; it’s lack of supervision. So remember to keep your eyes away from your smartphone and fixed on your toddler instead.

We understand — it can be tempting to return an email or catch up with a friend while your kid plays happily at the park. But toddlers are fast and unpredictable and injuries can happen in seconds. Besides, you’re there for your child, so engage with your child.

Playing closely with your child will give you a better idea of your their capabilities too, which will help you judge what she can, and can’t do at the playground. Some toddlers will confidently (and safely) scramble up the stairs to the slide. Others stumble after a step or two. Only by watching your child will you know when she’s ready to try something independently. Until then, stay within arm’s reach, in case you need to help (or catch!) her.

It’s also best to aim her toward age-appropriate equipment. Some playgrounds now come with age recommendations, such as “best for ages five to eight” or “ages one to three.” If no recommendation is posted, use your best judgment. A low-to-mid-sized plastic slide is a best for toddlers. Huge, metal slides with open stairways are definitely not a good idea!

Make sure to follow regular safety recommendations as well. Leave the costume jewelry at home; it’s too easy for a necklace or bracelet to become caught on the playground equipment. Your child should also wear  appropriate shoes at the playground (flip-flops are not meant for the monkey bars!) and always wash her hands before eating afterwards.

Plus, more from The Bump:

7 Annoying Moms You'll Meet at the Park

Toddler Swimming Pool Safety

Toddler First-Aid Kit

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