Your Toddler: Safe Ways to Explore

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Your Toddler: Safe Ways to Explore

Topic Overview

The typical toddler is programmed to crawl, walk, run, climb, and seek out new experiences. Children between 12 and 24 months of age need stimulation to improve their motor and sensory skills.

You can foster your toddler's strength and coordination:

  • Play and interact with your toddler. Playing, dancing, marching, and doing other simple activities with your child helps your child develop physical skills. At the same time, you can encourage and watch your child's development.
  • Be physically active. Take walks, go to the park, visit any place where a toddler is safe to move around freely and explore the outside world.
  • Provide engaging toys and materials that improve your toddler's coordination and strength. For example, balls, push- or pull-toys, blocks, and sand boxes all boost physical skills.

As your toddler becomes more mobile and curious, safety issues become crucial. At about 18 months of age, toddlers just start to understand cause and effect and that their actions have consequences. But they don't understand dangers such as stairs, pets, toxins, and many other possible hazards. To keep these little explorers safe, parents need to play the role of the "sheepdog" by knowing where their children are and what they are doing at all times.

Some basic toddler safety issues to address include:

  • Childproofing your home, such as by using safety-approved gates and play equipment and keeping all dangerous substances (cleaning supplies, medicines, matches, guns, knives, tools) stored out of sight, out of reach, or locked up. Walk around your home with a critical eye looking for any potential hazards.
  • Using an approved car seat or booster seat, every time your child rides in the car. Make sure the car seat or booster seat is properly installed (many are not). See the manufacturer's instructions for proper installation and use. If you are not sure, have your car seat checked at a police station. Always wear your own seat belt so that your child understands the importance of this safety measure.
  • Never leaving your toddler alone in the bathtub. Keep your child in your sight around all bodies of water.
  • Providing a safe outdoor play environment. Although going to the playground or using other outdoor equipment is good for developing children's motor skills, inspect all equipment for potential dangers, such as sharp edges or loose bolts. Also, closely supervise children.

For more information on these and other safety issues, see the topic Health and Safety, Birth to 2 Years.


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
Primary Medical Reviewer Donald Sproule, MD, CM, CCFP, FCFP - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Louis Pellegrino, MD - Developmental Pediatrics
Last Revised June 27, 2011

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.