When I was pregnant with my first child, I relied on my daily visits to BabyCenter.com to prepare me for the little bean growing inside of me. I read all the baby literature I could get my hands on: Pregnancy from A to Z, What to Expect When You’re Expecting , etc. With the proliferation of  ‘all things baby’ in the 2000s, we followed the baby-proofing craze and decked out our home with everything from outlet protectors and safety gates, to floor padding and corner guards. Mind you, when you have children, there are never enough safety rules or practices to keep them safe. 

After having my daughter (and now my son six years later) I am reminded pretty frequently, that you can’t ever be fully prepared for the real life challenges that fly at you. After all the boo-boos, accidents, and near accidents, I realized that all of the safety rules for pregnancy I had learned were less helpful than what I needed to know about the hazards of daily livingthe everyday safety rules and practices that would prevent my children from being harmed.

When you’re balancing kids, work, chores, and social demands, becoming the supermom I always wanted to be, well, it wasn’t so easy. I had to learn a lot from my mother’s nagging, by watching what experienced mothers were doing, by taking note of my own experiences, and unfortunately from watching the news.

If I had to narrow it down to the two most important safety rules for children that I’ve learned along my parenting journey (baby-proofing stairs and cabinets aside), these would be my top takeaways:

Safety Rules (#1): Keep an Eagle Eye on Your Child at All Times

This seems like an easy one, but it’s not as simple as you would think, especially when you are at a social gathering with multiple parents. You get to mingling and think your spouse or another parent is watching your child. But guess whatthey are thinking the same thing! This is the golden safety rule for managing younger children. If you’re keeping a close eye on them, you will likely catch them before they wander out of your view or fall (well, usually). Communicate with your family/friends to ensure someone’s always monitoring, especially in parking lots, playgrounds and around water (baths, pool, lakes).

Safety Rules (#2): Be Mindful of Hot Cars, Hot Things, and Heavy Things

Life is never what it used to be with little ones in tow, and the freedoms of getting chores done, running errands, and just living life can get a bit more complicated. No longer can you just run into the pharmacy to grab some shampoo, or even get ready for the day, without having to be mindful of your toddler’s whereabouts. You need to always be 5 steps ahead! Make sure hot plates, pans, and food are out of their reach. Check to ensure that heavy items sitting on tables are far out of their grasp. My nephew yanked on a Christmas stocking attached to my mantle and the 1 lb. stocking hanger came crashing down on his head. Needless to say, his lip busted open and we nearly took him to urgent care.

And that’s just at home.

When you’re on the go, you have to be just as mindful. No matter how quickly you are running into a store or friend’s house, you should never leave your child in a car unattended. Your child is safer with you than in a car. There have been 682 U.S. heatstroke deaths of children left in hot cars since 1998. Although this doesn’t happen every day, just hearing of one incident on the news should be warning enough to parents. No food run or bank errand is ever more important than the wellbeing of your child.

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