• Safety Tips for Babysitters: Keeping Indoor Play Areas Safe

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    If you’re babysitting toddlers (2 and 3 years old), your job will be to keep them within safe play areas, preferably within your sight. While in the house, you’ll have to keep them away from potentially dangerous areas such as the kitchen, bathroom, workshop, and storage areas. They move fast, so you will have to be able to move even faster!
    Here are some tips on keeping play areas safe for infants and toddlers:

    The Playpen

    There are a few things to look out for here.
    • Remove strings of toys from across the top or sides of the playpen. They can cause strangulation.
    • If the playpen has drop sides, they should always be up and locked securely in position when a child is in the playpen.
    • Do not put any toys in the playpen that the child can stand on to climb out.

    High Chairs

    A child in a high chair requires almost constant attention. Babies can slip out of a high chair in an instant if not properly strapped in. An unstable high chair can also tip over.
    • Make sure any safety belts or straps on the high chair are securely fastened.
    • Make sure the tray is properly secured.
    • Don’t let the child stand up while in the chair, and keep other children from climbing on it.
    • Keep the chair away from areas in the house where there is a lot of traffic, such as doorways.
    • Keep the chair away from stoves.
    • Keep the chair far enough away from walls so that the child can’t push the chair over.

    The Crib

    Make sure that the crib is as safe as you can make it. Here are some tips:
    • Check to see how much space is between the mattress and the side of the crib. If the space is larger than two fingers, an infant’s head could get caught in between and the infant could suffocate. Roll up a couple of towels and place them in the space.
    • Check the slats in the side of the crib. Make sure they conform to current safety regulations.
    • If the child is old enough to stand up, the parents should set the mattress at its lowest position, with the side rail at its highest position.
    • Check the mattress support frequently to make sure it hasn’t become unhooked from the end panels.
    • Do not leave toys in the crib that could be used to help the infant climb out.
    • Do not use crib toys that may have strings or elastic attached to them—they can strangle and choke a child.
    • Beware that cribs with decorative knobs on the corner posts can lead to strangulation. Children’s clothing and strings or necklaces can catch on them, especially if the child is trying to climb out.
    There are a lot of things to look out for when baby-sitting. But the absolute most important thing you can do is to watch the kids at all times. This will help you avoid accidental injury.

    RESOURCES

    Safe Kids USA http://www.safekids.org/

    US Consumer Product Safety Commission http://www.cpsc.gov/

    CANADIAN RESOURCES

    About Kids Health http://www.aboutkidshealth.ca/

    Safe Kids Canada http://www.safekidscanada.ca

    References

    The super sitter. US Consumer Product Safety Commission website. Available at: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/243.html. Accessed August 15, 2012.

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