Playing is the first love of all kids, whether they are shy or friendly. Infants and toddler spend a major time of their lives in the playground. Kids start exploring the area the very moment they are in the playground and end up with dirty hands, sore knees since they have a fascination to climb and jump. Another very common feature is walking and jumping on the paths with open shoelaces, no matter how much we try to protect them, we cannot succeed, so it is better to educate them about their security thus reducing any major injuries or hazards.
The infants and toddlers should be counseled about their safety right from the start so that major mishaps do not occur. Reports have shown that every year most infants and toddlers are taken to the emergency due to injuries that happen in the playground. One might think that their baby is small enough not even able to walk, yet what is more shocking is that most injuries happen to kids beyond 4 years, so being alert and cautious is the key. “Be Safe” is the mantra.
Supervision of the kids is the prima facie for all the parents and guardians, it seems easy but does not happen so. Mostly it has been noticed that parents take the time when kids are playing in the playground and consider it as “me time”, so they are busy catching up with friends or relatives over the phone, catching up with old pals, going for strolls etc. What is important here is that one miss can lead to injuries to the child which can be painful for both. We need to supervise them only till they become mature enough and after that, we can have the “me time “as well. Never let them wander away from the playground. Also, to bring down the side effects of overexposure to the sun, take your child to the playground earlier than 10 am or later than 3 pm when the sun’s intensity is at its lowest.
Ideally, playgrounds should always be set up as per the age of the child, so there are different sets for infants which would be softer and yet different ones for toddlers which would be slightly strong ones. In general, there are different types of playgrounds and given below is a brief on them:
- Playgrounds for 6-23 months old infants- These must comprise of less than 32 inches equipment, should have rockers with springs, short and spiral slides with easy to access ramps, and proper swings that are secure by holders in the shape of buckets. Infants love to sneak through, crawl and need a lot of protection as they tend to fall as they cannot balance fully. Try to not leave the kids in any swings that are in the shape of animals as they can hurt the child.
- Playgrounds from 2-5 years-5years old-These should be made in a manner so that they can fulfill the motor, cognitive, emotional needs to the kids. It should have slides, see-saws, swings, climbers, merry-go-rounds so that they can explore a lot. The kids of this age love to climb over under and over the objects and most importantly try to imitate like the elder kids, so more equipment that can help them explore with it. They even want to try something different, so they wish to climb from the slide and then get down the stairs instead of the other way.
- Playgrounds from 5-12 years old- This is the growing age of the kids when their balance, synchronization, confidence is much stronger than before. The height of the kids is more than the younger ones, and so is the physical strength. The ideal equipment for this age would be chain walks, overhead discs or rings, arch-shaped climbers, games which involve vertical poles etc.
Outdoor games are a must for kids so that they get proper physical activity. The alarming part about playing outdoors, however, is the falls that they go through which could lead to acute injuries at that time. As parents, we should ensure that the playground where the child is playing is on a surface which is not dangerous. Playgrounds that are made on concrete, sand or grass are not safe as a fall on them could be serious, especially on the head. The playgrounds should ideally be rubber surfaces as they are safe and even if the kids fall, they get cushion support and they do not get hurt. Also, the fall surface should be made wider at least 6 ft in every direction from the play equipment.
The time when the playgrounds are set, an inspection is usually done by the experts in this area. Still, the playground equipment should be inspected periodically. Commence the repairs as soon as a problem is discovered. Yet it is important to counsel the child that if he trips on any screws, hooks, etc, he needs to report it. It is also important to let the child know that he needs to ensure that the equipment is correctly affixed to the ground level. In case of any threat, it is best to inform the admin of the place. Another important thing to remember is that in acute summers, it is always important to check the equipment if it is not too hot and then only sit on it. Never permit your child to try out any style other than the proposed kind of play. Example slides are intended to slide along (in a sitting posture). Never let them climb it through its sliding side.
Always Keep A Check On What The Child Is Wearing:
What they wear on the playground also plays a role in ensuring the safety of the child. Make them wear appropriate footwear. It should be well gripped, flat, and well fitting. Be careful of your child’s clothes as well. Never make them wear clothes that have strings, holes, lots of flayers, etc. There is a high risk of it getting caught in the play equipment. Never let them wear scarves and drawstring garments.
Thus, it is important to understand that all kids are different and so are the requirements. A small infant and toddler will not be able to enjoy if the equipment is not suited for his age and is not comfortable and the same goes for the older kids. Safety is the prime concern for all kids, and for sure the parents cannot be there always to protect the kid, but proper supervision can reduce the injuries, and the better we supervise, safer the kids will be.