It's amazing how fearless toddlers can be. Their innocence about the world around them allows them to pick up objects that we know are best left alone. They will put all sorts of things in their mouths, poke at others, prod at some, and try to take equipment or toys apart while you, the adult, cringe in worry of what's to come of this open curiosity. Fortunately, most of these worrying habits cause no harm to the toddler or none of us would have survived our parents' worry past kindergarten! However, there are some situations that are dangerous or could even prove fatal for the unsuspecting toddler.
Inside and outside of the house, a toddler requires constant supervision to keep them safe from the very world around them and the myriad troubles they can get themselves into. A toddler has no notion of what is safe and what isn't, so it's up to the adult to watch for these dangers. Inside your home, everybody knows about covering electric sockets, stoves, and keeping chemicals and medicines out of children's reach. But your home is beset with dangers you probably haven't thought about. You know how dogs like to drink out of toilets? So do toddlers! There must be something innately fascinating about toilet bowls that lures dogs and children.
Try keeping the lid down and the bathroom door shut. Your dog may be unhappy, but your child will be germ-free. Toddlers are also drawn to pet food.
Fish food, bird seed, dried dog food - toddlers, with their perfectly reasonable logic, think that if it's okay for the pets to eat, it must be okay for them to eat! After all, pets eat human food, so why can't we eat animal food? Try gently reminding your toddler that animal food is only okay for animals, not for people. Be prepared for that ever-popular question, "But WHY?" There are dozens of choking hazards in your home. Rubber bands, paper clips, twisty-ties from bread wrappers, coins, even food items like chips and crackers can be hazardous. If you were to interview a hundred ER physicians, most of them would tell you stories about clashes between little kids and household items. A classic story is the physician who removed a nickel from the nose of a five-year-old! This is a good time to teach your toddler that loose items and their orifices isn't a good match.
Outside, toddlers think nothing of touching and/or picking up things out of curiosity that would make an adult shriek! Bugs, worms, plants - nothing's safe from a four-year-old sleuth. If you live in the south, you know that Mistletoe grows abundantly on trees much like moss. Kids are drawn to this pretty parasite and have no idea that, if ingested, it's deadly poison! Jimsonweed is a common, rather pretty, roadside herb that causes intense hallucinations and psychotic behavior if chewed. These are just two examples of common plant hazards; teach your child never to put anything in his/her mouth that you haven't okayed. Bugs are generally harmless if eaten, but it's not a good idea to take chances. Teach your toddlers never to touch a snake, lizard, turtle, toad, or any other creature of the outdoor world unless an adult is present.
While most of these critters are harmless, toddlers don't know a garden snake from a copperhead! Alligator snapping turtles can whack off a toddler's tiny finger in a split second. If you live in a rural area, it's imperative that you teach your child to leave outdoor citizens alone! If you live near a beach, teach your toddler that sea urchins, crabs, and jellyfish can hurt them despite their harmless and fascinating appearances. Endless curiosity is part of the charm of watching a child grow up. Through children, we get a second chance to see the world through new eyes.
Toddlers, in turn, get to see the world through adult eyes as we teach children how to temper curiosity with caution and point out that sometimes, fun things can be harmful. Be patient, let children learn, and be there to keep them from getting into trouble with their explorations. You will always worry about your children, no matter what age they might be, but for the time being, you can do your best to show them the difference between safe and sorry.
Graham Johns writes regularly for YourToddler.net where you can read many more articles on calm crying in toddlers and babies. Also go to Family Life for a range of informative articles on family dental plans and much more