At two months, a baby is already reaching for objects, holding their head up and moving their arms and legs. These muscle skills largely develop over 12 months – making the playground an exciting place for infants to actively develop and explore! As the parent/caregiver, it is important to know about playground safety so that a family fun day in the park doesn’t turn into a trip to the emergency room.
- Pick an age appropriate playground/equipment.
Some playgrounds are built to separate older children from toddlers and infants. Most parks and playgrounds typically have components for each different age group. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, if your child is just learning to walk, the play areas should have a smooth, easy-to-walk-on surface. Older children will be able to play in areas with more advanced structures such as wobbly bridges or steps.
- Supervision – Parents should be with their children and actively keep an eye on them.
Going to the playground is exciting for your child because it is an adventure that has new obstacles and new friends. It is important to keep an active eye on your child and to teach them the dos and don’ts of being on the playground. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, keeping an eye on them should be easy because they’ll probably be calling for your attention when they climb, run, swing and more. You do want to encourage them to be adventurous, but you also want them to be safe and courteous to others. Teach your child to wait their turn and not to push, shove or crowd other children.
- Wear appropriate attire and practice safety from the sun and heat.
The summer time is the perfect time to take your child to the playground. It is important to dress your child appropriately, so that they can enjoy the entire time they’re outside. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, remove necklaces, purses, scarves or clothing that can get caught on objects as they are climbing, running or jumping. Tennis shoes, shorts, and a cotton t-shirt are generally the best playground clothing. In addition to appropriate attire, it is very important to protective your child from the sun.
Make sure to apply sunscreen on the entire family at least 30 minutes before going to the playground. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a minimal amount of sunscreen should be used with at least 15 SPF on babies under six months of age in small areas such as the face and back of the hands. Infants under six months old should also be kept in shaded areas out of direct sunlight. Because summertime can be overwhelmingly hot in Florida, watch for signs of heat exhaustion and make sure everyone is drinking a lot of water.
Summer time is the perfect season to get outside and play around, but we hope you remember all of these safety tips so that you and your child can enjoy the most of their summer vacation.
*Research and writing of tips 1-3 was written by Sarah Brusca, our Master of Public Health intern from the University of Florida.