Safety at Every Age

When parents leave you with their children, they’re trusting you with the most precious thing in the world. Children are exposed to a number of risks every day, and it can be difficult for even the most competent of caregivers to keep track of every risk. If you’re new to childcare, here’s a crash course on some of the things you need to watch out for.

Every Age

Children of every age need to be protected from bullying, from strangers and from cars. Talk to your charges every day after school and report anything noteworthy back to the parents. No matter how old or how independent your charge is, never leave him alone outside or let him go home with a friend without the parent’s permission. Similarly, make sure children always wear helmets when biking, rollerskating or skateboarding, and always make children wear their seat belts or sit in car seats.

Ages 0-2

Choking and head injuries are the leading cause of death among children in this age range. You must never leave babies and toddlers unattended even for a second. When bathing children of this age, always support their heads and never place them in water that is more than a few inches deep. Also keep in mind the following:

  • Children under 2 should not be given peanuts. Early exposure to peanuts can cause a life-threatening allergic reaction.
  • Children under 1 should not eat honey, which contains a toxin that babies cannot process.
  • Children under 2 should not be given over-the-counter medications unless specifically advised to take it by their doctors.
  • Babies should always sleep on their backs to prevent sudden infant death syndrome.
  • Anything that can fit into a paper towel or toilet roll is small enough for a child of this age to choke on.
Ages 2-6

Toddlers and preschoolers can be deceptively independent. However, these children do not possess the awareness to make good decisions without careful adult guidance, so don’t be deceived by your charge’s insistence that, “I can do it myself!” Some things to keep in mind:

  • Children this age should not be permitted to bathe by themselves.
  • Young children do not understand the concept of poison. Never allow young children to play in cabinets or with potentially dangerous chemicals.
  • If you take your charges swimming, only do so at a pool that has a lifeguard.
  • Children must always sit in car seats or booster seats depending on their weight and should always wear helmets, even if they’re just biking in the driveway
  • Always hold children’s hands when crossing the street, and teach them the importance of looking left, right, then left again.
Ages 6+

Children this age are increasingly independent and spend substantial time away from home at school. In addition to the risks younger children face, school-aged children must deal with bullies, mean adults and strangers. A few things you can do to ensure that these children stay safe:

  • Talk to children about their day at school.
  • Carefully monitor relationships with friends for problems.
  • Teach children that no one is allowed to touch them without their permission, even if it’s a friend or trusted adult.
  • Tweens and teens should learn about the dangers of drug use, alcohol and sexual assault. Ask your parents how they want you to handle these issues with the children, and strive to be a friend to whom the children can talk about these issues.
  • Never keep secrets from the children’s parents.
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