Gates can be an important piece of equipment to keep your toddler safe and to give you peace of mind. It is wise to get a gate before you think your toddler will need it. You will then be ready for the day when a new skill appears.
Use the following tips to assess the safety of any gates in your home:
- Use gates manufactured after 1990.
- Accordion‑style or expandable gates are not safe. The wide, V‑shaped openings along the top or large diamond‑shaped openings along the sides can trap your toddler.
- Check the gate for a safety‑approved label.
- Ensure the gate has a smooth finish and is free of splinters, cracks, snags, and rough parts.
- Make sure the gate is the right size and style for the space being blocked.
- Use a hardware‑mounted swing gate at both the top and the bottom of stairs. Do not remove them until your toddler can climb stairs on his or her own, without help.
- Pressure gates can be pushed over, so they are only useful for between rooms or in hallways, not for stairs.
- Avoid raising the height of the gate by lifting it off the floor; your toddler may try to crawl under it.
Baby Walkers Are Dangerous!
Never use a baby walker, whether new or second‑hand. Baby walkers with wheels were banned in Canada in April 2004. A toddler in a baby walker could tip over, roll down stairs, or fall into a swimming pool. A toddler in a baby walker could also reach dangerous items. Choose a child activity centre that does not move (without wheels). Make sure you put it in a safe place where your toddler can’t reach dangerous things while playing in it.
Safe seating that is right for your toddler’s age and size will make mealtimes easier and more fun for everyone. Use the following tips to check the safety of high chairs:
- Choose a high chair with a wide base, a safety strap, and strong tray locks. If it is a foldaway high chair, make sure it has proper locking devices.
- Always use the waist and leg straps.
- Check that your toddler’s hands, arms, and legs cannot get caught in any moving parts when the chair or tray position is being changed.
- Make sure that older children do not use the chair. They could tip it.
- Place the chair away from hard surfaces that your toddler could push against (walls, doors, counters), causing the chair to tip.
- Place the chair away from appliances, windows, blind cords, mirrors, and sharp corners.
Booster Chairs/Seats (for eating)
- Booster chairs are useful when toddlers grow out of a high chair but are still too small for an adult chair.
- Booster chairs are placed on a regular chair and are held in place with a safety belt.
- The belt normally goes around the back of the chair. If possible, select a booster chair with a strap that keeps your child secure.
- Safety straps that cross over the chest should be placed low enough that they cannot reach your toddler’s neck, even if she or he slips down in the chair.
Hook‑on chairs are not recommended, as they can fall off under your toddler’s weight or when your toddler moves. However, you may find that you have to use a hook‑on chair once in a while because nothing else is available, such as in a restaurant.
Here are some safety tips if you choose to use a hook‑on chair:
- Make sure the hook‑on chair is attached to a strong, sturdy table.
- Place the chair away from table legs. Your toddler could push against the table leg and push the chair off the table.
- Test the chair after it is hooked to the table but before you put your toddler in it. You can test the chair by pulling it backwards.
- Use a different kind of chair if your toddler is over 13.5 kg (30 lb) or is very active.
If you put your toddler in a playpen, (also called a play yard), check to make sure it meets these guidelines:
- Playpen walls should be mosquito‑type netting. Your toddler’s little finger should not be able to pass through the mesh.
- It has only two wheels or casters. Your toddler’s actions in a playpen with four wheels can make it move.
- The walls are at least 48 cm (19 in.) high.
- Hinges should be designed not to pinch or collapse accidentally.
- All parts that are small enough to choke on are firmly attached.
- Vinyl rails and mattress pads are in good condition and not torn.
- The space is free of all cords, scarves, necklaces, and similar items.
- Toys strung across the top of the playpen have been removed.
Jumpers (also called Jolly Jumpers™) do not help your toddler walk sooner. They may even cause more injuries because your toddler will tend to try to walk before he or she has good leg control. It is better to let your toddler explore and be active on the floor.