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 Creating a safe and interesting environment for your child

Father playing with childProtecting our children and promoting their healthy development are among our main goals as parents, and creating a safe and interesting home environment is an important first step in achieving these goals.

A safe and interesting home environment allows your child to explore, play, and develop without needing to be told, “No, don’t touch that!”

A safe environment will make life less stressful for you and your child, allowing more time to play and enjoy one another.

What is a safe environment?

A safe environment for your little one starts with paying attention to the physical environment, by making sure he can’t fall into a pool or down stairs; get burned by something in the kitchen; get hurt on a table corner or by playing with medications, a knife or other utensils. Make sure he can’t get into cupboards that aren’t safe; touch an electrical outlet; or reach cords or choking hazards such as small items he could put in his mouth. Get down on your hands and knees and look around from your child’s point of view to spot any sources of potential danger. Look in the baby-proofing section of your local hardware store to find tools for keeping your child safe and preventing accidents.

The second part of creating a safe environment for children has to do with your supervision. Appropriate supervision means you know where is your child and what is he doing at any given moment. Remember, however, that even with your best supervision, your little one will have at least some small accidents occasionally. This is normal and does not mean you are a bad parent if it happens. It is also important to remember that creating a safe environment does not need to include you becoming anxious or worrying excessively about your child. Children usually feel safer when their parents are confident.

What makes an environment interesting for babies and toddlers?

Toddler with helmetAn interesting environment for a baby is one that will stimulate her senses. For newborns, your face and smile as well as black and white shapes, will stimulate her sight. In the same way your different words and tone of voice, songs and laughter will stimulate her listening; and your touch, hugs and kisses will stimulate her sense of touch. And let’s not forget that a baby loves putting everything in her mouth so having safe interesting toys that she can put in her mouth and explore is very helpful. A baby’s brain is well prepared from the beginning to absorb this type of information, and an interesting environment will greatly help stimulate a baby’s development.

In the case of toddlers, activities and toys where they can use their hands and feet, solve problems, pretend, and have the opportunity of doing things by themselves, will be the most interesting for them. In general, interesting activities will also help keep your child safer, as he will be engaged and won’t be as tempted to look for something he should not touch.

The best safe and interesting activity

Safe, interesting activities where your child can explore freely under your supervision, will provide many benefits for his development. However, there’s no better, safer and more interesting activity for your little one, than playing with you. When you play or spend quality time talking or reading with your child, he is safer and more interested than in any other activity.

Dr. David Anglada-Figueroa is a clinical psychologist with a passion for families and children and a spokesperson for First 5 Sonoma County. First 5 encourages parents to Read, Talk, and Play every day with their babies. For more information, visit first5sonomacounty.org and www.facebook.com/SonomaFirst5.

 

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