One of the most exciting moments of being a new parent is watching your child take their first step. Small bumps and tumbles are normal for children as they start moving around and exploring the space they’re in. While it’s good to let children try to walk without help, they still need you close at hand for guidance.
As children learn, it’s okay to fall some, but to avoid serious injury, it’s important to make sure the environment is safe. Toddlers are known for getting into things they aren’t supposed to, and to minimize the possibility of them getting into something harmful, consider these tips:
• Watch windows – keep windows closed and locked when they aren’t being used and make sure to remove anything near a window that a child can use to climb up. If possible, only open windows from the top or install guards that stop them from opening more than a few inches.
• Mount furniture to the wall – when possible, secure furniture to the wall to prevent anything from falling onto a child that’s attempting to climb it.
• Secure kids when seated – use buckles and straps to secure children to high chairs, swings or strollers whenever possible.
• Careful around stairs – use safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs to prevent accidents, and always supervise toddlers while they learn to use them.
• Supervision is key – having a parent or guardian supervising young children as they explore is the most important safety tip. An adult can always step in and help a child when it looks like they are getting into trouble.
For toddlers, wearing shoes is optional! Walking around barefoot actually helps young children develop the small muscles in their feet that help them balance. There are times when wearing shoes is a good idea, like when it’s cold, but therapists recommend letting toddlers explore and learn without shoes when possible.
Carrie Sawulski is a licensed physical therapist at Cone Health Outpatient Rehabilitation Center. Sawulski has also earned a specialty designation as a pediatric clinical specialist through the American Physical Therapy Association. She received a Bachelor of Science in physical therapy from Ohio State University in 1997.