Archive | June 21st, 2012

The ABC’s of Building A Safe Playground For Toddlers

Building a safe playground for toddlers require cautious planning and attention especially when it comes to safety issues. So before you go ahead and execute your plan, consult with an expert. Below are a few basic points you should keep in mind.

Avoid Weak Surfaces

A playground should withstand any pressure (e.g. weather conditions, kids’ weight, etc.). The safety of a playground relies on the foundation where it is being set-up. Do not build a playground in earth surfaces such as grass, soil and hard packed dirt. Asphalt and concrete surfaces should also be avoided as they are weak, tending to lose their ability to absorb shock when frequently used or during major environmental conditions which only result to serious head injury, or worse, death.

Use Flooring That Can Reduce The Effects of A Fall

First, make sure that the flooring you use can decrease the impacts of a fall. There are 2 types of flooring materials you can use – loose-filling materials and manufactured artificial surfaces.

Loose-filling materials consist of wood chips, fine sand, gravel, shredded bark mulch or rubber mulch and shredded tires. Although it is cheaper than manufactured synthetics, loose-fill materials cannot endure wet weather, freezing temperature and prolonged use. It requires regular maintenance and constant replacement to retain its depth.

Manufactured artificial surfaces include rubber mats comprised of rubber and urethane components (ideal for applications of geometric shapes and special graphics). Manufactured synthetic surface are more expensive but less maintenance is required. Plus, it also absorbs water very quickly keeping the playground dry and clean at all times.

Take note that the greater the depth, the greater the shock absorption. Be sure to ask the producer for test results on shock absorption.

Make Room For Space

Allowance is the key to having a safe playground. Always make room for more space. Hence, the floor should extend to over 6 feet past the play area. If the fort is over 4 feet, it would be a good idea to not leave the guard rails open. Make sure you keep them close together to prevent your toddler from getting his head trapped in between the rails. See to it that the railings are above 38 inches and most of all, ensure that there is adequate space that can grow as your toddler grows.

Create A Cushion Zone

A cushion or buffer zone is an area that lies between two or more other areas that is used either for adjoining or segregating. Use a cushion zone plastered with a protective surfacing material under and around all the equipment where a toddler might fall. It must be able to extend to at least 6 feet in all directions starting from the edge of the equipment. Make sure this area needs to be free of other equipments and barriers.

Attach Swing Sets Securely With Proper Spacing

The front and back of the swing should be big, one that extends out a minimum distance of twice the height of the swing (measured from the ground to the swing hangers). Swings should not be too close together to avoid injuries from the collision of moving swings. Spacing should be a minimum of 8 inches between swings, 8 inches from the support frame and 8 inches between the ground and base of the swings.

Divide The Playground Into Different Areas

To avoid collision, separate the playground into areas. Reserve a spot where toddlers can play in sandboxes or engage in various activities, an area for sliding and swinging and an area where toddlers can play house.

Keep in mind that no matter how safe a playground is, adult supervision is still crucial. While you may not totally stop things from happening, at least you are assured that your toddler can play freely without constantly worrying so much.

Posted in Safety, Toddler ProofingComments (0)

Child Proofing Your Toddler During The Summer Months

Summertime means spending the day’s outdoors, traveling and unlimited playtime for toddlers. However, summer is also a tricky season for keeping toddlers safe at all times. Here are some child proofing tips to keep your toddler out of danger.

Slather On The Sunscreen

Your toddler’s skin is very sensitive making it susceptible to sunburn. Combat this painful condition and the risk of getting skin cancer by using sunscreen. A waterproof sunscreen designed for kids with an SPF of 15 or higher should be applied generously to your toddler’s neck, tip of his ears, arms, legs and tops of his feet at least 30 minutes before going outside. Apply sunscreen to the areas covered by clothes as well. Reapply every two hours or whenever he gets wet or sweaty.

Stay Hydrated

Prolonged exposure to the sun can wear out your toddler. It can also lead to dizziness, exhaustion and dehydration. Let your toddler drink a glass of water every 30 minutes. On extremely hot days, have your toddler drink 2 glasses of water every 30 minutes even if he is not thirsty. This will help replenish the fluids in his body especially if he is doing physically demanding activities. Give him his own water jug or water bottle to encourage drinking. Avoid giving him caffeinated and sweet drinks as these can deplete the body of water.

Choose The Right Clothes

Layering or bundling clothes do not really make sense during the summer months. To help beat the heat and keep him feeling cool and fresh all day, dress your little one in clothes that are made from cotton, are lightweight and loose-fitting. Opt for clothes in light or pastel colors since dark-colored clothes tend to absorb more light, causing a person to perspire more easily. Change your toddler’s shirt after a round of running since wet clothing looses half of its UV protectiveness.

Stay In The Shade

Use a sunhat or a wide-brimmed hat to protect your toddler’s head and sunglasses with UV protection to shade your toddler’s eyes from the sun. Bring an umbrella every time you go out. Also, make sure to stay in the shade between 10 AM and 4 PM when the sun is most intense. Look for shady, breezy spots where your toddler can play.

Keep Bites and Rashes At Bay       

Protect your little one from insect bites by applying a kid-friendly insect repellent. Spray it on his clothes instead of his skin since repellents contain DEET (an active ingredient that can cause skin irritation) which is absorbed by the skin easily. Remember to wash off the repellent when it is no longer needed. Apply cornstarch baby powder all over his body to avoid heat rash.

Practice Preventive Measures

  • Let your toddler play on age-appropriate equipments only.
  • Make sure playgrounds have safe surfaces such as mulch and sand and have rubber matting materials.
  • Check his clothes for any loose threads or any foreign materials that can risk your toddler’s safety.
  • Always let him wear a helmet, elbow and knee pads. See to it that they are a good fit.
  • Never leave your toddler unattended near or in the water (even when he is wearing a floater).
  • Securely strap your toddler in a car seat both for short and long road trips.

The summer season is a fun time for toddlers. Practice the tips given above to make sure your toddler makes the most out of summer while remaining safe and unharmed.

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Getting Your Toddler Ready For Preschool

Starting preschool is a major phase in your toddler’s life. It is a big step and he is afraid of not knowing what to expect. Ease out his frustrations and help him get ready for preschool with these tips.

Increase Social Interaction

If your toddler has not spent much time interacting with other kids or was not enrolled in a day care center, then most likely, he will have difficulty getting along with other children once he starts preschool. Let your toddler get used to being a part of a group by arranging play dates and other social opportunities where your little one can learn basic social skills such as respect, cooperation, listening, sharing and taking turns. Enroll him in a music class. Join a summer workshop. Organize a swimming party. Make afternoon visits to the playground more frequent.

Adjust Your Child’s Daily Routine

Mimic the schedule of his future preschool class to his daily routine. This will help him get accustomed with the changes. For instance, if he is used to eating lunch at 11:30, yet his class does not eat until noon, adjust the time he eats lunch at home. Train him a few weeks in advance and do it slowly so he will not get shocked with the changes.

Practice Independence

His fine motor skills are still developing so everything is a struggle for your toddler. Opening his lunchbox can turn into a frustrating battle and lead to a meltdown. Avoid this outrage by training your toddler how to do things on his own. Let your little one eat his breakfast and drink water by himself. Mishaps may happen at first, but eventually, he will learn it and this will help him adjust to preschool more smoothly.

Practice bathroom skills. Ease your toddler’s fears of not being able to control his bladder by training him what to do each time he needs to use the bathroom. Inform your toddler that it is okay for him to ask to go anytime. Role play it. At home, act as the teacher and have your toddler raise his hand each time he needs to go to the bathroom. Constant reminders can also help your toddler remind himself that he needs to use the toilet. He will get used to these reminders which will act as his warning signals that he needs to pee especially in the middle of class activities.

Hone Your Child’s Skills

Indulge your toddler in creative activities like drawing, coloring, finger painting and clay molding. Give him basic jigsaw puzzles and connect-the-dot picture books. These activities help hone your little one’s visual and motor skills which helps enhance his writing skills.

Read books to your toddler every day. Preschool classes have at least one reading period each day. Setting a reading time (at least 15 minutes) every day will help make this a familiar routine even before school begins. Since he is not yet an independent reader, he needs to learn how to listen. Read out loud to help improve his listening skills. Question him in between pages, ask him what he thinks will happen next or how he thinks the story will end. After which, ask him about his thoughts. This will help your toddler express his views openly.

Visit The School

Visit the school with your toddler a few weeks before he starts. Have him to take a look inside his future classroom. Introduce him to his teacher. Stay for a few minutes so he can see what goes on, who his classmates are and so on. This will help make him feel more comfortable and less anxious to start his first day of school.

Acknowledge His Fears

Talk to your toddler. Give him a sense of what to expect and ask him what he feels. Most often, the thought of starting preschool scares toddlers. The best way to ease your toddler’s fears is to be honest. Let him know what to expect - where he will be going, what he will be doing and who will be in class with him. Try watching a video together about a little boy starting preschool or read a book about it. Share your experiences. Assure him that you were also nervous at first but everything turned out to be exciting. Information will help calm his fears.

Finally, when the first day of class starts, allow extra time to get him ready. Walk him to his classroom and do not just sneak out. Give him a hug, kiss or a high five as a sign of reassurance. Tell him you will see him later and most of all, to have fun.

Posted in Education, Starting PreschoolComments (0)

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