Five ways to encourage safe play in your home

Posted by iChild, August 23, 2022 1:28 PM

By Peter Boast, Managing Director of Safetots

Children can benefit greatly from playtime. Not only can it help develop motor skills and emotional and cognitive development, but it can also help littles ones to explore the world around them (Healthline). However, playtime can also pose many potential hazards. So, while it’s vital for children to explore their limits, it’s important for them to do so in a safe and healthy way.

This doesn’t mean controlling your child’s every move, but ensuring they can explore and take risks without causing any real harm is important for their development and confidence. So, follow my five tips below for encouraging safe play at home.


Manage the risks

It’s healthy to let your children explore as they play, but the home is full of everyday objects that could be potential hazards to little ones. Things like radiators, fireplaces, windows, and stairs can all pose a danger, as well as any cleaning products you have stored in your cupboards.

Putting up a baby playpen can be a great option for very small children, keeping them away from any potential hazards. But, if your kids are a little bigger and could push over or climb out of a playpen, then you’ll need to think about babyproofing these areas of your home. Be sure to invest in safety gear like fireplace and radiator guards to protect your kids from hot surfaces, as well as safety locks to keep little explorers out of low cupboards and away from windows.

If your home has stairs, a baby gate ensures that your little ones can’t wander up or down the stairs where there’s potential for them to fall. Screw-fitted stair gates are often the safest and most permanent option, as they have no trip bar that could cause a hazard at the top of the stairs. It’s also worth looking for a gate with an auto-close system. These will automatically close behind you, so you can always be sure that the gate is secure and that there’s no risk of your little one sneaking through.

Talk to your kids about safety

Even if you’ve babyproofed your home, it’s not uncommon for some little ones to find their way around your safeguards. And as they get older, you may find that your children are able to climb over things like safety gates. For this reason, it’s important to speak to your kids about safety in a way that they can understand. For example, as you set rules for where they can and can’t play, explain why they can’t play there. It’s important to keep these conversations positive by encouraging them to be careful, rather than calling something “too dangerous”, so you can make your child aware of the risks and hazards, without making them too scared to explore.

You can even make safety a game to do together by checking for any hazards before they play. For instance, you can check any outdoor toys such as slides and swings for water before playing, drying them with a towel if they’re still wet. Having this chance to learn interactively can help instil these lessons of safety into your children while also making them fun.

Plan engaging tasks

Children are more likely to investigate unsafe spaces if they’re feeling bored, so planning plenty of engaging tasks can help keep them occupied in a safe way. For example, you could plan an art afternoon or bake cakes together. Doing tasks like this gives you a great opportunity to supervise children’s play and teach them how to stay safe while doing so. Even if you need to get on with your own tasks, planning enrichment activities such as an arts and crafts table, a small obstacle course, or a scavenger hunt in the garden can help keep your kids occupied in a safe space, while encouraging a sense of adventure and inquisitiveness. 

Lead by example

Children naturally imitate their parents’ actions, making this a fantastic opportunity for them to learn essential safety behaviours. While playing, be sure to follow the same rules you’ve set out for them and explain why you’re doing them. If you ever catch yourself not following the rules, use this as an opportunity to discuss the importance of safety and what to do if they do accidentally end up in a tricky situation.

Give them chance to learn

Children have a natural curiosity, so it’s important to let them explore the world around them and give them chances to learn. Providing the opportunity to take risks and consequences in a controlled and appropriate manner can give them the skills they need to deal with challenges as they grow up.

Being real about the potential risks and the benefits can help you work out when to step in and when you can leave your kids to play. You can also teach them how to push their boundaries without going too far. For instance, it may be safe for your child to climb a tree, but you may want to show them how to do so safely, giving them a chance to learn and push their limits without putting themselves in danger.

Your home can be full of everyday hazards, but by minimising the dangers and turning playtime into a valuable learning opportunity, you can help encourage a healthy attitude towards playtime and risk-taking. For more parenting tips and advice, be sure to take look around the rest of the iChild blog!

By Peter Boast, Managing Director of Safetots


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