5 tips for staying safe with toddlers while out and about
One of the best things about being a grandparent is being able to experience a child’s world again, without the responsibility of everyday caring. Whether you look after your grandkids for a day or an hour, it’s a joy to be able to put them in a pram or in the car and take them for an outing to the park, the shops or even treat them to an ice cream. However, we all know how fast toddlers can be. Those who look after little kids are well-versed in the safety hazards to look out for but when caring for an adventurous toddler isn’t your full-time job, it can be hard to remember everything you need to keep in check.
Here are some tips to ensure you’re one step ahead of your rambunctious tot...
1. Make sure they’re strapped in properly
This may seem obvious but it’s amazing how easily little ones can pull their arms out of the car seat and pram straps. In a stroller, ensure the toddler is secured with the five point safety harness and that the shoulder straps are fastened tightly. It can be dangerous if the little one only has a lap sash done up. If they’re leaning forward in their seat, they could injure their back or even topple out of the pram if it comes to an abrupt stop.
In the car, first of all make sure the car seat is installed correctly and that you have the right car seat for the child’s age and size. Did you know that two out of three car seats aren’t installed correctly, increasing the risk of serious injury? It’s critical to ensure the child is properly buckled in with the harness tight enough that there’s no slack. It’s also vital that there aren’t any twists in the straps—in the unfortunate event of an accident, these may unevenly distribute force onto the child, whereas flat straps spread the load evenly.
2. Use the tether strap
We all get distracted sometimes but fortunately there’s a safety mechanism on all Australian prams that ensures you’re attached to the handle, even if you accidentally let go. National standards mandate that all prams must have an appropriate tether strap affixed to it. Just loop it through your hand while using the pram to ensure it’s attached to you at all times.
3. Use the pram brake
It’s one of those horrific moments repeated again and again on news shows and breakfast TV: a pram rolling out of control into traffic or off a train platform, while the parent or grandparent turns away for a mere second. In addition to using the tether strap, it’s also really important to use the pram brake whenever you’re stationary, particularly when standing near traffic or at a train or bus stop.
Prams like the Strider Compact™ Deluxe have a linked parking brake with red/green indicator locks that can be locked with a single step, making it easy to be safe.
4. Think strategically about car park safety
When you haven’t had to look after more than one child before, you need to think strategically about the safest way to get them in and out of the car. Only you know the children in your care but many parents usually find it’s safest to put the more mobile child in the car first.
For example, if you’ve got one walking and one in the pram, put the walking child in the car first then transfer the younger child from the pram into their car seat. The kids are safest when strapped in their seats, giving you the freedom to properly unpack the shopping and load up the car properly.
5. Consider investing in an umbrella stroller
Although mums and dads love the extra storage and superior stability of larger prams, many babysitting grandparents find these prams heavy, particularly when walking up hills. If this is the case with you and you’re a regular carer, you could consider investing in an umbrella stroller. These strollers are more lightweight and also fold down to be compact, making them easy to store.
The Steelcraft range can be viewed here and have an adjustable backrest and swivelling front wheels, so they’re comfy for naps and very manoeuvrable to push—perfect for a trip to the park (choose one with a fence if you have a runner!) or to the local cafe for a coffee and a treat.
Note: The views and advice expressed on this blog post are those of the author and are not representative of the Pregnancy Babies & Children's Expo.