First, make sure your child’s play area provides them with the room they need to explore free of obstacles. Check your surroundings and remove any lamps or decorations that can easily be knocked down or broken. Don’t be afraid to use baby gates to restrict certain areas – doorways and stairways in particular.
As a newer parent, work on developing your “Super Vision.” Get accustomed to taking a quick 10-second look around the room to scan for any potential hazards. This will allow you to determine if it’s a good space to set your children out on their own.
Also, make sure the toys in your play area are age appropriate. If you’re ever unsure, consider whether there are small pieces that can easily break off or fit into your child’s mouth. When in doubt, it’s a safe bet to err on the side of caution and remove the toy just to be safe. It’s also a good idea to check recall lists once and while.
Didn’t it always seem like your parents had eyes in the back of their heads? It’s that “Super Vision” we were just talking about. Don’t worry – you’ll naturally develop that as a parent. Just remember it takes practice to know what your children are doing based on sounds or even silence. Always keep them within glancing distance and you’ll soon get the hang of it. If you’re chatting with a friend, keep “scanning” the room as you talk and be aware of sudden silences.
Kids can take advantage of distraction and sneak off quickly. Establishing limits with your child is a great way to determine just how closely you’ll have to watch them. Keep in mind that children always behave differently when they know you’re watching. In time, you’ll learn how to look over them without drawing too much attention to your presence. For now, take note of the liberties they take when your eye is turned and learn to anticipate them.
Some parents may think lunchtime is a great time to get chores done – “Plop a child in a high chair, give them their lunch and you’re good to go!” Unfortunately that’s not the case. We strongly encourage all parents to eat along with their children whenever possible. This way you can not only monitor them, but also start those family meals that are so important for communication and family development.
It’s always a good idea to take your kids with you when you’re running simple errands and grocery shopping. This allows your child to interact with the world outside of their normal environment, and gives them the opportunity to explore!
As a child grows it’s important that they know not to run off the second you have your back turned. Start by requiring your child to hold your hand when they are outside of the cart. Once they stop trying to guide you and pull away, they may be ready to walk around on their own.
If you regularly take your child with you grocery shopping, try sending them down the aisle ahead of you to get certain items. It turns trips into mini scavenger hunts, lets them feel independent and helps with item recognition. This will also turn them in to great helpers as they grow older, and make future trips to the store less chaotic.