Are there really hidden toddler dangers when shopping? Definitely, we're talking about little people with no impulse control. There are “toddler dangers” just about everywhere. That’s probably why parents spend the better part of the last two years baby proofing their home (shouldn’t they call it toddler-proofing?).
Whether the tot is at home, at grandma’s, grocery shopping, at the mall or just about anywhere else, a 1- or 2-year-old can somehow find a way to get into trouble. Seriously. He’s a master at it. Parents know the drill – keep both eyes on the kiddo and make sure that he’s within arm’s reach at all times.
But, that’s easier said than done when shopping. After all, parents usually have their arms filled with packages of pull-ups (because they’re buy one, get three free) and they’re just trying to keep at least a few steps behind their marathon runner of a tot. So, how are parents supposed to make sure that their little guy (or gal) doesn’t meet up with any of the sometimes unavoidable toddler dangers out there?
Um, bubble wrap?
Okay, so parents can’t keep their child safe 100 percent of the time. Even though one or both parents might want to keep him in a protective little bubble, that’s not really living life. What parents do need to do (right now) is to make themselves aware of the hidden dangers that their toddler may face while shopping with them.
Before heading out to the grocery store, shopping center, mall, town square or any other retail-type area, check out these need to know hazards, risks and threats.
15 Pretty Potions
Scratch that (the potions that is). Instead, make it pretty poisons. You’re at the grocery store, crossing off everything on your list, and your child’s helping. He’s pointing at and picking out bright bottles of juice while you ask him what colors he’s seeing. Suddenly you’re in the cleaning aisle.
As you compare various detergents for mildness your tot spies something that looks a lot like grape juice. You let him take a sip of the other grape juice (that’s the real stuff). So, he’s all up for doing the same with this one.
He easily opens the top and guzzles down half a bottle of lavender fresh bathroom cleaner. It looks like a kids’ drink, but it’s deadly. Not only are these poisons appealing to toddlers, but they’re easily in reach – often on low shelves that are on your toddler’s eye level.
Make sure to keep both eyes in your little one, and tell him that those pretty bottles are major no-no’s. If he reaches out to grab one, quickly stop him. That is, immediately.
If you’ve ever seen the movie Mallrats, you’re probably well aware of the dangers that an escalator possess. If not, all you have to do is imagine what can happen when your teetering toddler meets a moving stairway.
Okay, so your child completely knows the safe way to use an escalator. At least, you think so. He’s ready to hold your hand and safely step onto the moving stairs. You’re taking a ride up when he suddenly makes a break for it. Your toddler turns and starts running. Of course, he’s running down the up escalator – and that’s clearly a safety issue.
Even if you’re right by your child’s side, an escalator can quickly become a danger (especially when you have your hands otherwise occupied with more shopping bags than one mom could reasonably handle). Hmm, maybe the elevator is the better option here. That is, as long as your sprinting tot doesn’t make a break for it and leave you stranded in the elevator as he runs through the mall.
13 Sample Stations
It’s Saturday afternoon and just about every aisle of the grocery store is capped with someone giving out free samples. Okay, so that’s not exactly a toddler danger – it’s more like a toddler dream (gooey fudge brownie bites and mini sundaes in paper cups anyone?) So, most of the samples are fairly safe.
But, then there are the sample stations with heat. The sausage station has some sort of hot plate contraption and the chili’s in a crock pot.
When your toddler’s around the hot stuff you need to be extra watchful (not that you shouldn’t be watchful all the time anyway). Turning your back for as little as one moment could result in a serious burn. The sample guy is busy talking up the flock of grandmas that have gathered around him and his stash of coupons.
He’s totally not in any way aware that your toddler is reaching up and about to grab the bottom of the hot plate. That’s when your tot pulls the plate down on top of his head or grabs it in just the wrong spot, burning his hand.
12 The Cart
It’s just a way to carry your food around at the grocery store, right? Um, not to your toddler. Your young child sees the shopping cart as an amusement park-style wonder-ride. It’s his very own play land, and all he wants to do is climb, climb, climb.
You’re pushing the cart as your toddler walks next to you. You stop to browse the frozen foods and he bolts around to the back end of the cart. He stealthily climbs up onto it, pulling himself into an iron-grip hold. Now your child is hanging off of the cart, and you don’t have enough in it to support his weight. The entire thing tips over, turning onto your child and trapping him underneath.
Child-led cart topping isn’t the only danger here. Even if you’ve trapped your child into the seat, he can still undo the tether, stand up and fall to the grocery store’s floor. And don’t forget about the “Oops, I didn’t mean to run over your foot with the cart” injuries.
11 Mannequin Stands
They’re like dolls. Really, really, really tall dolls. Your child is fascinated. He sees the mannequin and he wants to know more. So, your toddler climbs up onto the pedestal that the mannequin is on. As he fumbles to the top, he falls and smacks his head off of the side. And now you’re on the way to the ER for stitches.
Even if your child could care less about the mannequins themselves, he may find the mannequin stands (those cubed boxes that the mannequins are propped up on) incredibly interesting. They basically look like playthings, and your child is completely bored watching you shop for a new sweater.
As you look through a sea of mediums to find one small, your toddler is shimmying up the shiny cube. Your tot’s not-so-sophisticated climbing ability (or lack of it) is no match for the super-sleek surface. Even if he doesn’t trip, it’s likely that he’ll slip and in some way fall from the stand.
10 The Mall Fountain
You couldn’t stand the whining and gave in, getting your tot one of those big cookies (you know the ones we’re talking about) at the food court. Instead of sitting at a table, your toddler demands to perch himself on the edge of the mall’s fountain. You give him a penny to toss in, and help him to make a wish.
What could possibly go wrong here? Well, you have a pool of water, lots of shiny, interesting pennies at the bottom of it and a completely curious child. You’re glued to your child’s side, then he suddenly leans forward and falls in. The fountain may not be deep enough to cover your child completely, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a drowning hazard.
There are roughly 10 drowning deaths per day in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). One in five of these are children under the age of 14. Any type of standing water, whether it’s a full-sized pool or a tiny mall fountain, can present serious drowning danger.
9 Other Kids
Your toddler is minding his own business. You’re picking out apples and he’s patiently standing by your side. Before he even knows what happened he’s being bowled over by a renegade shopping cart. There’s a preschool on a sugar high (he must have raided the self-serve candy bins) and he’s pushing his mom’s cart all over the place.
You shriek as the pint-sized driver rolls over your toddler’s toes or smashes into his knees.
Cart-related incidents aren’t the only kid-to-toddler dangers while you’re shopping. There’s the random running. Yep, there goes some other child – running down the aisles of the store. He’s not looking, and neither is your tot. By the time they both see each other, your toddler is on the floor crying.
Before you run off looking for the absentee parent who let their child run yours over, remember that someday you might be in his or her place. It’s likely that the parent of that mini maniac is standing nearby. Hey, it’s not like the other kid was running wild – he was just running.
8 Coffee From Anywhere
It’s been a long day. After waking up four times last night to get three sippy cups of water and doing one bedsheet change (for your toddler, not yourself) you slept for a grand total of 45 minutes.
You barely took a shower (if you call getting to shampoo half of your head and kind of rinse it out before your toddler wakes up from his 10 minute power nap a shower) and then spent the rest of the day on the hunt for the “just right” type of chicken nuggets.
You’re at the third grocery store and you can’t seem to keep your eyes open. So, you grab a coffee and stash it in one of those cup holders built into the side of the shopping cart. You turn to read the ingredients of yet another bag of nuggets when you hear a scream. Your toddler just pulled that coffee down, burning his hands on it.
Don’t assume that your child will leave your coffee cup alone or that the lid will in any way stay put. If you need a coffee (and, who doesn’t?) keep it with you and far away from your child or his grasp.
7 Chewy Candy
Those self-serve candy bins are calling to your toddler. Whether you’re at the grocery store or passing by the sweets shop at the mall, your child sees those clear plastic bins and begs for all the candy he can manage. You say no, setting off tantrum mode.
Your child just can’t deal with the fact that he’s not getting any candy right now. So, when you turn your head he goes in for the grab – picking out the stickiest, chewiest, most choke-able piece of candy in the place.
Before you realize that your kiddo has the candy, it’s stuck in his throat. It’s round and the perfect size to clog his windpipe. You would have never knowingly allowed him to eat the over-sized jawbreaker or a gumball the size of his fist. But, he’s picked his afternoon snack out on his own (without your knowledge or consent) and now he’s in more than trouble.
6 Clothing Hangers
As you try on jackets you innocently put the hangers down on the dressing room floor. They’re hangers, not knives. So, you really aren’t thinking about them in terms of being dangerous. That is until your little one picks them up. He’s all about playing with the hangers, and you may have not even noticed.
How bad could a hanger be, right? You probably use hangers every day, and you have plenty at home (many of which are in your toddler’s closet). You never thought about them as a hazard, until now.
Well, even though hangers aren’t exactly on par with super-sharp scissors or a fire poker, they can cause damage. Metal hangers can easily cut your child and the clip-on ones (such as pants hangers) can pinch little fingers. Along with these dangers, your child could poke himself in the eye with the end of the hook or hit himself with just about any part.
5 Electrical Outlets
Every electrical outlet in your home is covered. Before your baby was born you went out and bought a super-mega pack of those little plastic outlet covers (or maybe you registered for them as part of a baby shower safety gift basket). Your house is baby-proofed to the max, including everything electric.
Maybe you even have your little baggy filled with outlet covers that you bring with when you go to grandma’s or your childless BFF’s house. You’ve got this safety thing covered – literally.
Then you head out to the local shopping center. Look around, you’ll find plenty of electrical outlets. And, they might not have covers. Some will, but not all. And, there’s no doubt that your super-sleuth of a child will find all of those that don’t have their very own little covers. That’s when he sticks his finger in one of the unprotected outlets and – well, you know the rest.
4 Stacked Displays
You’re well aware that wall anchors tethered to your dresser or bookshelf can save your child from a dangerous situation. You’ve spent plenty of time making sure that nothing falls on your child (he’s always pulling everything in arm’s reach down). But, at the grocery store there’s very little that’s anchored down.
There’s a seemingly innocent stack of tea tins (those oddly sharp tins that hold bulk tea bags) at the end of the beverage aisle. You’re looking for the perfect flavor, while your toddler is thinking about all of the ways he can dismantle the tea castle. He grabs one of the boxes on the bottom. As he pulls, the entire thing comes crashing down on your child’s head.
Maybe the tins don’t hit your child in the head, but they can injure him in plenty of other ways. From a sharp corner to the eye to landing on his toes, a falling display is far from safe. Obviously, this doesn’t just apply to tea. Anything that’s stacked could pose a similar type of danger to your toddler.
There are all of three stairs that lead from the mall’s food court to the rest of the shopping center. But, that doesn’t mean your toddler can’t get hurt. Even a few stairs can cause a serious injury – that is, if your child falls.
Your little one is just starting to climb up and down steps on his own. He’s so excited about this new discovery that he eagerly runs off to find stairs whenever he can. You’re all set to hold his hand and help him down the steps. Then your 2-year-old takes off and does a full flip and rolls down the three or so stairs.
You have baby gates galore at home. They protect your toddler from falling down the stairs. Whether you’re at the mall or in the grocery store, stairs can pose a danger to your child. Instead of baby gates your toddler has you. He won’t stop himself, so it’s up to you to make sure that he doesn’t take a tumble.
2 Make Up
You’re trying on the latest lipstick shade. Okay, maybe it was the latest shade four months ago. But, today’s finally the day that you get to wear it. As you admire your reflection in the mirror your toddler grabs a half open bottle of nail polish – and paints his lips with it. He wants to be just like mommy, and you’re putting red stuff on your mouth too.
As you browse the makeup counter at the local department store you need to make yourself aware of what your toddler can reach. If everything is way too high up, you may be in the clear. But, if anything is within his reach, you need to keep him away. While cosmetics may not seem like dangers (after all, you put them on your face), eating them isn’t ever okay – especially when it comes to your child.
Along with makeup, don’t ignore the perfume counter or the cleansers/moisturizers/beauty treatments (which often come in candy colors or look like foods, such as whipped cream). It’s easy for your tot to accidentally swallow a mouthful of fragrance when she sprays the perfume into her face.
1 Cart Seats
Okay, so you already know that the shopping cart can be a dangerous place. Your toddler climbs up into it and tips it over, obviously opening up the possibility of hurting himself in many ways. But, that’s not the only cart hazard out there. Bacteria and viruses often lurk on cart handles and seats. If your tot holds onto these surfaces or puts his mouth on them, he’s exposing himself to germs galore.
In a study of bacterial contamination of shopping carts, researchers from the University of Arizona found that 72 percent of carts contain coliforms (such as E. coli). Think about it – your child’s sitting in the shopping cart seat when he has a code brown. The diaper or pull-up isn’t exactly on well and everything leaks.
You grab him and run him out of the store and into the bathroom before things get worse. If the store doesn’t completely disinfect and sanitize the seat the next kid who takes a ride is exposed to your child’s germs.
Kid to kid germs aren’t the only things growing on the cart’s surface. Bacteria that seeps out of raw meat packages or broken eggs can also contaminate carts. That means you need to be careful and keep your little one clean.