In its newest guidelines on physical activity for children, the World Health Organization said that toddlers, or kids aged 1 to 4 years old, need at least 180 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity every day.
Parents of little kids like us naturally want to heed this advice for the sake of our children. But if our living conditions are a bit cramped, such as in a small condominium, it could be a challenge where to let your child enjoy free play.
The next best option is in a park or a playground, but then safety becomes the next big issue. How do you ensure your child does not hurt himself badly when he's out playing? Here are a few reminders.
Safety tips while in the playground
Go to the age-appropriate area.
Typically, the playground offers many different activities for kids of different ages. Of course, you want your toddler to stay in that area which is designed for younger kids in terms of height and capacity. But, as children are, your child might insist on playing in the other areas that are too advanced for her. When that happens, simply guide her back to the area where she should be playing and explain why.
Be familiar with the equipment.
Swings - if there is a choice, use the bucket-type swings instead of the regular one to avoid falls. The regular ones may be appropriate for kids 3 years old and above, and even then, it's important to remind him to hold on to the chain properly.
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Slide - let her try the lower one first, and hold on to her torso as she slides down slowly. Remember that it is NOT a good idea for you to hold her in your lap while you both slide down.
Monkey bars - Avoid them, as your toddler still does not have the upper-body strength required to use them.
Sandbox - generally, don't let your little one play in the sandbox unless you have checked that there is nothing in there you don't want in your child's mouth. You know how kids love to put things inside their mouths, and if the sandbox is kept open without someone regularly checking it, there could be trash or broken glass or feces in there. If you let her play, make sure she washes her hands with soap and water after playing.
Check for hazards.
Inspect and shake any equipment before letting your child use them. There may be broken parts or missing parts, making it unsafe.
Be aware of the other kids.
Kids' encounters can be often good, but sometimes it can't be helped that there are also bullies. In an article on Parents, Dr. Seth Scholer, an associate professor of pediatrics at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Tennesee, suggested to role-play with your child. "If another kid is doing something he doesn't like, teach him how to use a firm voice and tell him to stop." Teach him also to come to you if the problem persists.
Be close by.
It's important that, as your child is still learning about himself and his surroundings, you are there to see that she is safe, and that you can offer support if she needs help. She will learn to be more confident as you slowly let go, a skill she needs when she heads to preschool in a few years.