We get it. It can be a lot of work to feed and care for and protect children around the clock. And sometimes, parents feel like they are doing their absolute best to watch out for their kids, and then accidents happen anyway.
No mamas and papas can completely protect their little ones from all potential harm in this life. It wouldn’t be to the benefit of anyone involved to raise children in a protective bubble, as they sometimes say.
The best we can do maybe, then, is to use our common sense.
What are the factors in everyday life that we can control? Which healthy habits can we encourage – and how, most importantly, can we lead by example?
I have two very young kids, and I totally understand that even if you set out on your parenting journey with grand intentions of being protective and safe always, children can make it difficult to stick strictly to your own rules. They run around when they’re not supposed to, whine when they don’t get their way, and act so crabby when they don’t eat or sleep that you sometimes feel you might do anything to get them to intake a few calories or catch a few sweet Z’s.
Parents can’t be too hard on themselves, and thinking about whether or not you’re doing a good job is the first step to doing a great one, so here are 15 of the dumbest ways parents put their kids in danger.
15 Unsafe Shopping
We understand the temptation – because we’ve been parents to newborns before. You want to let them keep sleeping for a few more sweet minutes if they fall asleep in the car. You desperately need just a few more moments of quiet and time to focus on something else – because you need to get shit done!
Maybe that’s why some moms and dads take the infant car seat / carrier right out of the backseat and pop it into the upper child seat area of the shopping cart.
This is a no-go!
Although you may enjoy the way it seems to fit pretty nicely there and the fact that you can keep a close eye on that cherubic little face – and you’ll be able to avoid taking baby in and out a few times as you complete your grocery shopping – leaving the carrier unsecured is dangerous! How about using a stroller or wearing a baby carrier instead?
14 Acting Too Cool For Helmets
So a mom or dad tells the kids to wear a helmet when they ride a bike (or scooter or anything with wheels that makes it pretty easy to fall and do some very serious damage to your head). But when the family goes out for a ride, do mom and dad wear helmets themselves?
I see this one allll the time. There’s a scenic bike path people from all walks of life like to cruise along with kids in tow, especially on the summer weekends. And dad will be there smilingly leading the pack, nothing on his big head but a pair of sunglasses.
And then some parents don’t even bother to make their kids wear helmets at all! Where I live, it’s the law, and they make a pretty big deal of teaching about bike safety periodically in public schools. But I still see the smallest of kids cruising around on scooters, bikes, and skateboards with nothing to protect their tender heads.
Letting kids cruise around on these wheeled contraptions in busy parking lots (think condos and apartment complexes) is another dumb way of putting kids in danger, to be sure.
13 Hydrating With Liquid Sugar
Is it really such big news to everyone that they recently changed the guidelines about how much juice to give your kids?
Let’s just say we aren’t exactly surprised that it’s officially a good idea to limit how much high-calorie, sugary liquid you give to your kids to consume every day.
Fruit juice is easy to drink a lot of quickly, is high in calories, and doesn’t contain all the other good stuff kids (and all people) need in their diet (think protein and fiber). If they fill up on this sweet stuff, where will they fit in the nutrients that they need?
Offer water for hydration. Talk to your pediatrician about which milk-fat percentage is just right for your child. And talk to them about this, too, but it’s now generally considered a good idea to use juice sparingly.
The dangers in question could really affect a kid for life (think obesity, diabetes, and other health complications).
12 Lacking Interaction
Yep, it sure is dangerous to be staring at your phone while you’re out with your kids (heck, I’ve heard of adults injuring themselves by forgetting that, oh, yeah, I have to look where the hell I am going instead of always at my phone…).
But maybe it’s just as dangerous to always be locked in on that tiny, beautiful, alluring screen at home.
If a mom or dad is constantly checking that feed or opening this and that app, they aren’t teaching their children a very good lesson about focus and attention span.
They also aren’t spending that time talking and interacting with their child, which is perhaps the most dangerous prospect of all. Learning to speak and interact and problem solve are maybe of higher priority than, say, Fantasy Football scores?
This is not even to mention that just because a home is “childproofed,” it doesn’t mean that babies and young kids don’t require careful supervision.
11 Being Careless With Car Seats
The most recent stat I’ve seen is 72 percent. That’s how many car seats are apparently improperly installed.
So if you’re making this dumb mistake, you’re certainly not alone!
That’s why it can be a really good idea to check around in your area to see if professionals at fire or other public safety stations will check to be sure that your children’s seats are properly installed. And you should certainly start the whole process with a seat in good condition that you know is not expired – and carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation.
Also be sure to read the provided guidelines for use carefully. Make sure that the child is at the appropriate weight and height for the current positioning and settings of the car seat.
It’s also important to make sure the safety harness is secured in the correct position and with appropriate snugness every time.
10 Being Uncool In Cars
You wouldn’t think you would ever be so absent-minded as to leave your keys in the front door. I bet you’d never imagine that you’d get into the front driver’s seat only to realize you’d never even clicked your toddler in with her safety harness in the back. And leaving your wallet at home and not realizing until you were nearly to the store?
With all of these and more similar scenarios, it’s easy to say, “Oh, I’d never do that!” only to find that, especially once you’re a busy, overwhelmed, and often sleep-deprived parent, sometimes they just happen.
Well some veteran moms caution to be careful to avoid this “never me!” attitude when it comes to one thing in particular: leaving your child in the car.
Awful accidents pop up on your news feed all the time, I bet, about babies being left in hot cars, kids being forgotten, and more.
9 Putting Junk In The Mouth Of Babes
Ask a pediatrician in America, and this might just be the number-one easily avoidable hazard in this weird, wild civilization of ours.
It’s feeding fast food and junk food to your child.
This food does exist, and quite prevalently and affordably, we might add, so perhaps a good approach (if you ask my college nutrition and exercise studies professors) is to teach your kids to make healthy choices the majority of the time.
It’s not realistic to never let yourself indulge or try something that isn’t nutritionally supreme.
But making a habit of consuming foods incredibly high in fat, salt, and empty calories is dangerous to the extreme.
This could lead to a lifetime of health problems such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, just to name a few. This is not to mention that lives are often dramatically shortened by these types of diseases.
And the most dangerous part might just be the habits that are forming.
8 Fostering Screen-Time Obsessions
Parents are doing something out of desperation, and they’re doing it so, so often because it’s so incredibly convenient and so common that maybe everyone’s sort of just come to assume it’s okay.
What am I dancing around here? Constantly putting your kid in front of a screen. It can have negative impacts on their development and their vision, not to mention lead to a much more sedentary lifestyle – and all the health problems and bad habits that come with that.
There are TVs facing where children sit in many new cars. There are tiny computers with any show or movie you could ever think of at your fingertips in the form of iPhones and iPads.
Even the most careful parent sometimes allows a bit of screen time on a long trip or as a special treat, but it so easily can become a habit.
My main motivation for really limiting TV time is that I’ve never seen a show that wasn’t littered with grammar errors, and I don’t want this to be what teaches my children to speak!
7 Munching Meals On The Go
My pediatrician’s office always gives us a printout on the way out with general guidelines for protecting the health and ensuring the safety of your child.
It almost always mentions the hazard of choking.
But all the time, parents allow their kids to munch on snacks and eat meals while walking or running around, rather than sitting securely in a high chair or still and safe at a table.
In an increasingly busy life on the go, I guess some parents just figure it’s not that big of a deal. But, man, choking is a pretty big deal!
Another situation that can quickly become problematic is leaving children eating unattended, or not paying close enough attention to them while they are eating.
Babies can pretty quickly learn to self-feed, but just because they are able to get things into their mouths on their own, it doesn’t mean they’re ready to do it all by themselves.
6 H2O No!
I’ve seen a lot of articles with headlines about “dry drowning” flash by in my feed lately, trying to reel parents in to read with shock value about this phenomenon. But can we get back to basics with water safety?
I know many kids are now back in school and the big season for swimming is coming to an end in many regions, but then we can keep all this in mind for next year.
Allowing kids to swim where there is no lifeguard on duty can be quite risky. But you also can’t assume that if a lifeguard is present, all is well.
I live near the beach, and I can’t even handle how frequently parents seem to fail to keep a close eye on kids playing near to or in the water. I think it’s partly phones to blame, again.
And also, in a beach town, especially, I think it’s easy for parents to sort of want to seem or feel like they’re raising brave and adventurous outdoorsy kids who don’t need to be helicopter parented.
When something like drowning is a risk though, why not keep a close eye?
5 Staring At Smartphones
This could be a problem while near water, as we’ve said. It could be a big deal out at the park, in the parking lot, or, well, anywhere!
It’s staring at a phone while you’re out and about in the world with your kids.
Is that social media feed, Instagram, Snapchat, email, Pokémon game, or checking the weather for the third time really so important?
I really don’t even want to list all the dangerous things that might happen to young kids while a mom or dad’s nose is stuck in their phone. But I will list some.
The one that irks me the most is that they aren’t then making sure their own children are behaving nicely. While their kid is waving a stick in my little one’s face at the park, I’m left to awkwardly parent someone else’s child if I don’t want mine to have a scratched cornea.
There are cars to be run in front of, unsavory strangers, poisonous or choke-able things to be put in mouths, and more, so maybe put down the phone for a bit?
4 Not Considering Shoes
Foot injuries and not having properly fitting shoes the better to learn to walk, figure out how to run, and navigate this world are pretty dumb dangers – because they can rather easily be avoided.
I realized just yesterday that it was time to get my baby into some shoes each time we left the house and she’d have free reign to move about an environment – because she now dependably pulls to standing on some table or other object or person wherever we go.
First and foremost, shoes of course provide a barrier between those sweet little feet and surfaces and objects that may be too hot, poky, or otherwise dangerous for your child.
Shoes give your new stander or walker freedom to move about more safely when outside.
And properly fitting and comfortable shoes continue to be important as kids grow, allowing them to move properly as they develop strong muscles and bones.
3 Sun Protection Fails
I’m like almost obsessed with this one. It’s sunny most days where I live – but the thing is even cloudy days involve the sun’s rays doing potential damage to human skin (and eyes).
A super dumb way parents put their kids in danger, therefore, is failing to provide adequate sun protection each time they spend time outdoors.
It can seem like a hassle at times, but it is sooo worth it when you know that you’re working to prevent irreversible damage, skin cancer, and the potential discomfort or even danger of a sunburn.
A high-SPF sunscreen is a must. The other crucial step is to condition your child to wear a protective hat whenever they’ll be spending time outside.
Swear, we do this stuff so religiously in my household that my oldest is known around town for being the girl with the pink hat.
2 Forgetting To Focus On Driving
Unfortunately, many times that I notice someone is driving somewhat erratically, not noticing when the light has changed, or having trouble staying in their lane, it turns out to be a parent, often in a big minivan or SUV and with children in the car.
Driving dangerously by hurrying through lights, cutting people off, acting on road rage, being overly tired, or certainly while under the influence is a terrible, terrible idea, and a really stupid way parents sometimes put their kids in big-time danger.
But the other important element here is a choice that parents make. The correct choice is don’t text or make calls or change the music or do anything on your phone or other device while you are driving. Period. It’s never that important. If it’s something so urgent, find a place to safely get off the road and do what you need to do.
1 Giving Unfit Food
We’ve covered that no-brainer no-no of letting kids eat on the go, while they’re running around playing or otherwise not seated and still.
Well other common errors include giving foods that are easy to choke on, such as popcorn or hot dogs, to children too young to manage thorough enough chewing and safe swallowing of these things. It doesn’t matter if a child is seated nicely in his high chair or favorite spot at the table – some foods are just more likely than others to cause a problem.
A big one for toddlers is whole grapes. It’s a good idea to slice these up into halves or even smaller if the grapes are quite large.
Using a little common sense and taking a bit of extra time to prepare food safely for children can make a whole world of difference.
Sources: NHTSA.gov, USDA.gov, YouTube.com