Safety proofing. One of those necessary evils of parenting we love and hate all at once. We love the fact that we are protecting out infants and very young children, yet if only it were easier to accomplish at times…and if our tots had a bit less Houdini in them. Still, safety proofing measures do minimize injury and provide us with peace of mind during a very chaotic time in our kids’ lives.
Our danger antennas never stop beeping when our kids are young, even when visiting friends, relatives or on vacation. Those times can be overwhelming since you are out of your familiar home element but by paying attention to a few simple safety features any where you go, you can reclaim the same peace of mind you have at home.
Location, Location, Location
Whether staying at a hotel or a relatives house, safety proofing is a must! The major areas to focus on are:
- Outlets: bring outlet covers with you and cover the easily accessible ones.
- Under bed areas: take a peek for dropped food and medication and toss out what you find.
- Window treatment cords: tie up high any that a child could reach as these are strangulation hazards.
- Furniture: check all for stability since young kids love to climb and pull. Watch TVs – they tend to slide!!
- Access to water areas: bathrooms and pools. If you can bring a portable gate to gate off the bathroom, do so. For pools, direct supervision is always needed.
- Cribs: bring your own pack and play since hotel cribs are often not up to code.
- Windows: check to be sure they are locked. If a relative wants to open a window for air, ask that it be opened from the top so a child doesn’t fall through inadvertently.
Sometimes when grownups are together in a group, everyone makes a grand assumption someone else is watching all the kids. That is exactly when an accident will happen. Try to create a rotation of adults so that no one feels they are being burdened as a baby sitter. But, be prepared that may be a task you end up doing yourself.
Cocktails, beer and wine look like juice to small children. Encourage adults to place unfinished beverages out of reach of kids and toss any you find placed on coffee tables or even counters. It only takes a few sips of a cocktail for a child to become intoxicated so toss what you see often.
Dining out with kids can molt from enjoyable to harrowing in the blink of an eye. Your success will be dependent upon a few simple things:
- Restaurant choice: Not all restaurants are kid-friendly so that is an important consideration. On vacation, after a full day of new things and sightseeing, this may not be the time to push the envelope on new food. If the restaurant doesn’t have choices your kids will do well with, find a different one.
- Time of Dinner: While you may be tempted to have everyone nap and eat later, your kids’ biological clocks won’t be so forgiving. Try to keep dinner time around what your kids are used to. Have snacks on hand to buffer wait times just in case.
- Past restaurant experience of your kids: some kids do great at restaurants and others don’t. If your kids are picky, stick to simple, family-oriented restaurants.
Keep in mind that there are other people eating out, too. If your kids start to act up, ask for everything to go and eat it back at the hotel. Your kids just may be at their limit after a long day of stuff and we have to be realistic that they are just kids. What they may really need is downtime and bed.
When In Doubt, Count On Your Third Eye
The two rules of thumb I always find never fail us on the road are this. First, once we start trying to convince ourselves “how bad can it be”, we likely should not follow that plan. Those are the times we’ve found preventable accidents have happened in our family.
Second, trust the eye in the back of your head and never forget it is there. You know that eye – it’s the one that tells you where your kids are when disaster looms? Easy to have it go to sleep on vacation but don’t let it! Have an extra espresso and keep it awake and on alert. You count on that third eye at home and you need to count on that even more when out of your element on the road.
(Originally posted June 2008; updated December 2009)