How to Make Your Garden Toddler-Proof
Turn your back for a second, and you will be amazed what mischief a toddler can get up to! There are times, however, when this is not cute or a laughing matter. Thousands of small children are hurt in the home and garden each year, requiring medical treatment in an Accident & Emergency department in many cases.
But toddler-proofing your garden doesn’t mean putting a padlock on everything and not enjoying the garden for years to come. But you need these hints and tips to make it safe for small children to play and explore.
Step 1 – Toddler eye-level ‘hazard spotting’
Your neighbours may think you have taken leave of your sense but to help you get a perspective of what your toddler sees (and what they don’t) get down to their eye-level.
And that means kneeling or sitting on the ground in the centre of your garden and taking a good look round at what they see, and what looks inviting to explore. You may be surprised at what they see from their height that you don’t.
Step 2 – Relating how toddlers explore and learn to the garden
You don’t need to be told as a parent that toddlers learn about the world around them in a variety of ways and one is to put any item they pick up into their mouth the first question they want answering is ‘is it food?’.
This presents all kinds of nightmares from choking hazards to eating substances that are toxic and poisonous.
The garden is full of items that if tasted or ingested can mean a trip to A&E so the second step of toddler proofing the garden is plant checking.
Some leaves cause irritation, some flowers are problematic if eaten and the seeds, combs or bulbs of some plants can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach cramps if eaten. Check out the list of poisonous plants in the UK and then take a look around the garden, removing those that could cause a problem.
Step 3 – The garden furniture
Not all garden furniture is family friendly, unfortunately. Folding chairs and tables that have a habit of folding and trapping fingers to sharp edges, and plastic garden furniture that after many years of use, finally gives way, there are many examples of garden furniture that may not be very toddler-friendly.
Just as you would in your home, choose furniture that is sturdy and robust, such as a family-friendly garden with rattan furniture. With no sharp corners and a good sturdiness to it, when a toddler uses it as a climbing frame, as they are bound to do, it needs to stand firm and not topple.
Step 4 – Hiding places
On one hand, you want your toddler to explore and enjoy the garden as a first introduction to the wonderful world of nature and all that it can offer.
But on the other, you don’t want places where they can become trapped or out of sight for too long.
Just as you did in step one, you need to do some more hazard spotting – but from your height this time. For example, when you sit at your rattan dining table or lounge on the outdoor sofa, which parts of the garden can you NOT see?
Do these areas present a hazard? Do you need to fence them off for now?
Step 5 – Lock and hide it
Toddler proofing the garden can also mean changing our habits. Just like you wouldn’t leave bleach or other corrosive substance where little hands can get to it, you wouldn’t do the same in the garden.
Lock it, hide it and be safe;
- Lock the garden shed where you keep gardening chemicals and products, as well as the garden mower and trimmer.
- Lock the garage too and any doors.
- Consider a lock on garden gates too to prevent escape into the big world beyond without your supervision.
Step 6 – The pond and the pool
And finally, in other countries, there are laws that relate to fitting non-climbable fences around pools and ponds. In the UK, we don’t have such regulations but when there is a body of water in the garden that is accessible, there is the possibility of drowning.
Some parents remove fish and fill in the pond until the children are older, whilst others take steps to place a fence around the pond or the summer pool.
Remember, toddler proofing the garden is not a one-off exercise. As your child grows, you might need to take further action to keep them safe. But don’t forget to enjoy the garden too!
With so many family-friendly items and ideas, head on over to Rattan Direct, online retailers of stunningly stylish garden furniture and accessories.