The garden provides a place not just of beauty but in entertaining and playing with kids as well. It is the perfect place for outdoor games, sports, and playtime—a huge part of the kids’ and babies’ upbringing and social life. However, this magical place can ironically lead them into trouble, steering them into a litany of disasters-in-waiting, caused by their immense curiosity. Worse things than scraped knees cut fingers, and bruised shins could happen. Swings could fall off, trees could fall out, and they could fall into pools or ponds. The solution to this is to baby proof the garden.
Like all other parts of a home, the best baby proofing starter trick is to look at things at babies’ perspectives. If it means we have to crawl our way around the garden, then so be it. From this, we can then start clearing the area of all dangerous stuff. These should include garden chemicals, toxic plants, grilling tools and accessories, and the like. And while we are at it, we can consider replacing toxic plants with edible ones and skipping slabs for grasses. Those that cannot be moved can be covered or hidden, such as stone patios, fixtures, and fire pits.
However, we can also opt to create a specific safe space inside the garden instead of transforming the entire garden. Sandpits, tents, or play yards are great ideas to consider as long as we are sure of the materials. Creating the space should also keep our babies off animals and animals off them. In line with this, we should start educating our kids early about animals and how to deal with them.
These outdoor areas, unfortunately, are often overlooked during childproofing, with families who focus on indoor places alone. Inevitably, as children grow older, they are more likely to explore outside. Rather than the garden becoming the parents’ own private spot or paradise where they can watch the fruits from their hard work grow and revel on its beauty, it could, unfortunately, turn to be a set of any accident.
Why is baby proofing garden a necessity?
Having kids around is not easy, especially when one needs to maintain a beloved garden. Children always tend to find their way through anything—surprises can occur, and high levels of panic and anxiety may ravage the poor parents. Though hard, a balance between the safety and joys of growing one’s own garden is a necessity.
Experts from Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT) say this baby proofing practice is not about wrapping the child in cotton wool; instead, a practice to reduce safety risks. In fact, injury is the leading cause of death in children, where according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC, approximately 2,000 children, ages 1 to 14, die as a result of unintentional home injury.
Herewith, band-aids and first aid kits should be skipped in the journey to safety and having fun, and the kids’ playtime at home should be focused solely on enjoying themselves. Parents are likely to have blindingly taken measures to baby proofing gardens, but here are some things unconsidered.
Looking things from a child’s perspective
Before getting one’s hands on the mission, it is important to get down low, take a look at the yard and think like a child. Looking at any hazardous hardware to beware of, like sharp tools, pointed canes, slug pellets, weed killers, and broken glass, should be the first thing to be assessed and fixed. Looking over the garden for accidents waiting to happen and getting rid of them is essential towards a safe and fun playtime.
Clear the area
After looking at the area and assessing, clearing is the second vital step in baby proofing garden. When children play, they run around wildly, thus, clearing out potential hazards is a must.
Garden hoses can cause the toddler to trip or a crawling baby to get runoff water into their mouths. Garden hoses should be secured by a proper hose reel or cart to avoid such horrors. Also, according to the University of Michigan Health Services (UMHS), these garden hoses should be kept from the sun, because water heats up when sitting in a hose exposed to such intense heat—high enough to scald a child.
Gardening tools, especially sharp ones that may harm any child, including garden hoes, hand forks, pruners, etc. should be locked up in a shed or a storage area. Proper storage of these tools must be ensured as well to prevent rust and weather damage.
Garden chemicals should be out of reach
Bottles of herbicides, pesticides, or other chemicals, if ingested, could cause serious effects. These chemicals should be stored and locked, not only on a high shelf, where kids who love climbing risk getting their hands on it, but somewhere where they cannot be reached. If the chemicals are out of date, they should be poured away safely.
Get rid of toxic plants
Toxic plants and shrubbery might add flourish and beauty to the garden, like the lilies, daffodils, azalea, hydrangea, water hemlock, holly, foxglove, and oleander, but they pose a hazard to the children if swallowed. Thus, it is important to familiarize the many potentially dangerous plants. Deadly nightshade and hemlock are extremely harmful and cause fever, vomiting, and diarrhea. There are less-harmful plants, like chilies. Nonetheless, they are still painful, where if a child touches them before rubbing their eyes and nose may cause intense pain. Berries and olives, like pea gravel, are also choking hazards because of their size. If one is not familiar with dealing with these toxic plants, you can consult a gardener or horticulturist who can teach you how to steer clear from these dangers.
On the other hand, if these plants are nowhere near to be removed in the garden, preventative measures must be put to action like fencing them or using chicken wire to keep them out of reach and out of sight.
Hard areas should be checked
Stone patios and wooden decks are mostly featured in gardens, which can be a fall and trip hazard for kids. In baby proofing garden, they need to be adjusted for safety. If the patio takes up a large area of the yard, children must be kept far away as possible. If they come over, large blankets, pillows, and beanbags will be helpful to give them a soft landing if they fall. Although they may keep accidents from occurring, the best prevention is ensuring the deck in the garden to be anti-slip to reduce the chance of injury whilst still upholding a sleek appearance.
Designating a play area
As a parent, baby proofing garden sounds stressful from maintaining it down to worrying about our child’s safety. This anxiety may be eliminated by giving them their own special area in the garden that will not only contain their mess in one place but will also make them feel free to roam around without the supervision of adults. Sandpit or a mini tent is a perfect place to build their freedom and independence, while still giving their parents a clear view of what they are doing.
Fences and gates must be checked
Kids love discovering new places, even the ones warned by parents to get away from, and open gates or holey fences are the primary enemies when it comes to keeping them from unsafe areas. Although protective measures are in place, regularly inspecting and checking them in case of any problems that need fixing is important. Security must be guaranteed through building a fence. Not only do they keep children from roads, or neighbor’s yards, but they are also helpful in keeping wild or stray animals away from the yard—the best type of defense against both unattended visit and access.
If the yard has a pool, extra preventive measures need to be practiced, since the dangers are greater, with crawling babies and toddlers alike who can make a beeline for these open bodies of water. Radel, a baby proofing expert from Safer Baby, recommends a minimum height of 5 feet for a barrier surrounding any water feature, including ponds, and fountains. These barriers need to be anchored to a stable base for added safety. Such fear and anxiety from thinking about children hopping into a pool could be spared by putting up these barriers, blocking off the curious children.
Play equipment should be checked
The children’s play equipment needs to be checked from time to time, especially older equipment such as climbing gym, which may become rusted and sharp. Screws on swings may also become loose, making them unsafe. Spiders and other insects may dwell in cubbies and sheltered areas. While older trampolines may be equal to injuries. Thus, replacing them with a new netted model, or covering the springs with padding, must be a necessary safety measure.
Any play equipment should also be placed on level ground and avoid a bumpy piece of ground or a slight hill, which can cause it to tip over when the children start to climb on it. Every playground equipment must be sturdy. Nothing should wobble or teeter.
Animal safety must be taught
Having pets for kids affects their well-being positively, which informs their ability to respect and care for animals throughout their lives. Though this is true, domesticated pets are still animals. Children must be taught the right and wrong way to play with them. Teaching them how to pat a dog or a cat and explaining to them the importance of not making pets startle, or not disturbing them when eating or sleeping, or with their young can extend to them to responding accordingly when they come across a wild animal, like possums, or snakes, in the yard which happens most often. Not only is it know-how to baby proofing garden, but also crucial when the baby or toddler grows up to become both compassionate and aware of animal behaviors.
Plant more edibles
One of the joys of cultivating an edible garden is to have it shared with the whole family, especially the kids, who see adults as their role model. Planting more vegetables, fruits, and herbs in a garden is a diligent way to teach kids a lesson, very much like hitting two birds with one stone—baby proofing garden, and influencing the young to care for plants and teach them the importance and appreciation of growing one’s own food.
Use sand instead of glass pieces for fire pits
Nothing beats a chilly night sitting by the fire. It is a great place to gather the family, unless accidents occur, especially with children being attracted to pieces of eye-catching and brightly colored glass on fire pits. It may cause a burn or cut injuries. Though striking as they may look, Radel recommends using silica-free sand in fire pits instead of glass pieces, which glues to them accidents.
Fire pits must be removed and covered
Fire pits are a great addition to the yard, but the coals can stay hot even if they are not in use and may become tripping hazards, especially for toddlers or babies. The best way to prevent accidents is to get rid of the fire pit until the child becomes older and comprehend staying away from such harm.
Cushion sharp corners in outdoor furniture and architecture
Sharp edges are only realized when one becomes a parent. Children can easily poke their eye, get bruises, or head injury from the corners of outdoor tables, wooden chairs, or any furniture with bars protruding from them. Baby proofing the outdoor living room should be the same way as one does in their living room. Corner guards—little covers that cushion corners or padded seating with rounded corners and plush ottoman are safe choices for the outside furniture, as well as on the inside.
Be careful with the stairs
According to the CDC, about 8,000 children are treated in emergency rooms in the United States for fall-related injuries alone, adding up to over 2.9 million injuries in a year. The most common place of fall in the house? The staircase, both indoor and outdoor. Even if it is just one or two flights, children can trip on them, thus sparking accidents and trips to the hospitals. Barriers must be provided so children won’t fall down. DIY baby gates are also a brilliant baby proofing hack where one can experiment with sturdy fabric and attach it with grommets, hooks, and sturdy rope. Not only does it provide protection to the little ones, but it also gives them protection to walk freely.
Fixtures must be watched
Hoses and nozzles can get too hot if they sit directly under the sun for too long. If touched by children may cause injuries that could scar them for life. Placing them in shadier areas in the garden or putting them away if not in use is a smart way to baby proofing garden.
Moving and covering hard fixtures should also be kept in mind, such as a tap, so the children’s little heads, especially babies or toddlers, won’t get hit. Children who are rather curious with sockets might also get shocks from electrical sockets outdoors while playing, so covering them well is a must.
Grilling tools and accessories must be stored properly
BBQ parties are all fun and delish if safety is prioritized. When grilling in the garden around children, adults must keep them away from the flames as they could fly. Sharp utensils must also be placed far from their reach. As well as propane tanks, additional coals, sharp tongs, and other grilling utensils around.
Add grass instead of slabs
Children run rambunctiously, especially outdoors. The spaces between paving, whether slabs or flags are mostly a trip hazard for the little kids. The hard surface not only causes them to trip but may also lead to myriad injuries. If they are bound to trip and fall while running and playing around, they are better off landing on a soft grass rather than a hard cement, which is especially hard for toddlers who just learned to walk properly.
The Importance of Supervision
Above the tips mentioned, the best way to prevent accidents from happening is supervision. Proximity is not only an important factor in developing a strong bond between parent and child, but it also develops the little ones’ self-esteem, school achievement, cognitive development, and behavior. An important aspect of raising the young is preventing unintentional accidents through proximity. Sadly, poor supervision elevates these kinds of risks to innocent children.
Watching, listening, interacting, monitoring, and preventing injuries are the major headlines in supervising—more than just mere watching. With the kids spending time outside, as they grow old, supervision should never be halted.
The bitter reality always hits, and in spite of making every inch of the household, both indoor and outdoor, child proof, it will only take an instant for babies or toddlers to fall, get burnt by a hot stove, or shove things not meant to be shoved into their mouths. If accidents like these happen, preparation is the only resort.
- Parents or the child’s caregiver must learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the age-appropriate Heimlich maneuver.
- Poison-control number: 1-800-222-1222 should be placed near the phone in case of the child ingesting harmful chemicals. The doctor’s number, parents’ work, and cell phone numbers, neighbor’s or nearby relatives’ number must also be included.
- Preparing a first-aid kit with emergency instructions inside will pay so much in times of accidents.
- Smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors should be installed, and batteries should be changed regularly.
Safety and security come second after the basic tier in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Basically, it means, a child needs to be safe and secure before having a crisis about belongingness and love, self-esteem, and self-actualization. The early years are the most vital part of cultivating healthier well-being of an adult in society, and it is the parents’ first job carve out their children’s healthy life. Baby-proofing both indoors and outdoors, especially the garden, is a great way to start shaping such a happy and healthy life.