Toddlers are a funny creature, they are not a baby anymore, but they are not a kid either. It is like this weird middle ground, that is fun, stressful and dangerous. When we become pregnant, we are fearful of anything that may signal to us that we may lose our child before they are even born. When they are born, and frail and so little, we constantly worry about their breathing and SIDS.
Once they reach toddlerhood, we somehow think we are in the clear. We think we have passed all the danger spots and there is no reason to think our children may leave us. Well, ignorance is bliss, and there are many reasons why the age of the toddler is the most dangerous age of all.
Once you become a mother, there is never really a period where you don’t fear losing your child. When they are teenagers you stay up until they walk in the door past midnight. You even worry about them when they are grown adults, driving home in a snowstorm. It just never ends, and moms eventually just come to accept this.
Do we have to accept this? The endless worrying and anxiety caused by the fear of harm coming to our children. The answer is maybe. If we look at the leading causes of death among toddlers, maybe we can recognize if any of the contributing hazards are in our house. At the end of the day, there is only so much we can do.
Here are 15 things toddlers do that can lead to death, and how you can possibly prevent it.
15 Don’t You Put It In Your Mouth
Does anyone remember the PSA with the creepy puppets singing a song about not putting things in your mouth? No? Must have only been a Canadian thing. It may have been creepy, but it was also very true. Toddlers have not quite outgrown the (lovely) phase of putting almost everything in their mouth. They are still learning about the world, and how they learn is by placing things in their mouth.
Usually, when they reach toddlerhood, they understand the concept of food. This means that if something doesn’t taste good or appealing, they will normally spit it right out, but not always. The oral fixation mixed with an insane curious nature, means they may something place things in their mouth that may poison them. Medications, cleaning detergents and those colourful laundry pods are so attractive to a toddler hand.
14 Not Just Poison
It is not just the risk of something poisonous that you must worry about when it comes to toddlers putting things in their mouth. One of the highest leading causes of deaths among toddlers and all young children is choking. Choking on money, toys and even food is one of the leading reasons moms lose their children too young.
We do our best to make sure that our home is baby-proofed, and that the floor is clear of any and all things that could potential be a choking risk. We are only human, and while toddlers may seem a bit loopy, they are actually very smart. They also have this great ability to find even the smallest dime on the ground, and before you know it is in their mouth. This nature of putting things in their mouth, is something that most, if not all, toddlers do. This means that the risk of death is always there.
13 No Fear
Toddlers have no fear. They really don’t. They don’t exactly grasp the concept of cause and effect. This means that they don’t quite understand yet that jumping off the couch will result in an injury. They will learn it in time, but in the mean time it can have some pretty serious consequences. As moms, we try and watch our children as much as we can, but even then, we are not super heroes. All it takes is for us to turn around for one second and our child is standing on the table.
Most toddlers have plenty of falls and they turn out all right, they are resilient. There can be instances where this ‘no fear’ attitude can lead to death. All it takes is for them to land wrong, like on their head, and the results can be fatal.
12 Curiosity Killed The Cat
There is a reason why the saying ‘curiosity killed the cat’ is around, it is very true. Toddlers are very curious by nature, and they love to explore and learn about the world around them. When you mix curiosity with another thing children love, water, you could be dealing with a very serious situation. Toddlers love to play in water, they love to swim and splash, and they don’t understand that it is dangerous yet.
When you have a toddler around water, you must be diligent. They are probably going to want to explore, and this sense of exploration can turn deadly very quickly. Drowning is one of the leading causes of death to toddlers, and it is normally not the fault of parents. Parents are the first ones blamed though, as they should have been watching them. However, if you have a toddler, you should appreciate how anything can happen in such a short period of time.
11 Inanimate Objects Are Just More Fun
Have you ever noticed that you could buy your toddler the fanciest, prettiest toy and they would rather play with the packaging? It is true, we spend all this money to make sure our children have the best toys out there and they would rather play with the box it came in. Makes us wonder why we even bother and maybe we should just start wrapping empty boxes for Christmas.
This love of non-toy products can be dangerous. A plug and an outlet look way more fun that anything Fisher Price could ever make. When they start playing with items that are not meant to be played with, it can become dangerous and even fatal at times. It is another part of their innate curious nature that can get the best of them sometimes. This is another thing that should be taken care of when baby-proofing the house, but it can be a problem when you visit relatives who do not have children, therefore their home is not very safe for children.
10 Don’t Eat That!
Toddlers reach an age when they start learning how to play creative games. This means that they start to use their imaginations more and begin to explore the world of imaginary friends and tea parties. They are also learning a sense of independence, they start to branch off from mom and dad and want desperately to do things themselves. This may mean making their own food items.
Some food items are harmless, flour, bread and cheese are some of them, and if they eat some it’s not going to be a big deal, unless they have allergies. Some are a little more dangerous. Items like baking soda, which may just look like some sugar or other edible foods are not. Baking soda can be toxic, and there have been reports of young children dying from ingesting some. This is something I only learned recently, so odds are it is not as well known to others.
9 Monkey Around
Toddlers love to climb and explore, some even call their own children little monkeys because they love to explore much like the animal. My own brother had a bunk bed, and he would never use the stairs. Instead he would climb up it any other way possible. This is when parents must step in, because this can have fatal consequences.
We have all heard the stories on the news, about toddlers climbing the furniture in their rooms and having it come crashing down on top of them. We think it will never happen to us, but we can not be so naïve. I am sure those parents thought it would never happen to them. The problem is that we are not quick enough to anchor our furniture to the walls. That is because toddlers, sometimes, learn skills over night. We aren’t expecting them to start climbing furniture, but they go ahead and do it anyways. A heavy piece of wood furniture against a little baby, will never end well.
Toddlers are runners. Have you ever taken a toddler to a mall, or to the zoo? They love to run. That is again because they have no fear. They don’t understand ‘stranger danger’ or that they shouldn’t run too far from mom and dad. They just assume everyone is nice and loving and that no one wants to cause them harm.
Most people (usually those without kids) will just say to put them in a stroller, problem solved. Well, not really, unless you want to push around a screaming child for hours. Young children, who have just learned to walk, don’t want to be strapped down, they want to run around and get into stuff, it is in their nature. Unfortunately, all it takes is one quick move and your baby is gone, and we won’t discuss what may happen next. Your best bet, is to get a harness which gives your child a bit of freedom, while being safe.
7 Terrible Twos
We all know about the terrible twos, from before our baby is even born. We fear them, but we know they are coming and there is not much we can do to prevent it. It is a normal part of development for a lot of toddlers. They are learning boundaries, and are finally being taught between right and wrong and how to listen. This usually involves a lot of temper tantrums, but how is that exactly dangerous?
Well, have you ever seen a temper tantrum? They can be violent. My own daughter is prone to banging her head against any surface she finds. This includes walls, the cat and the edges of tables. Much like how a fall can be dangerous, so can this, as all it takes is them hitting their head too hard, and against a surface that is potentially dangerous. A hit to the head on the corner of a sharp object can be painful and potentially fatal.
6 Open Door Policy
Is your toddler starting to open doors? Isn’t that fun! You are in this blissful land where you know your child is safe from bathroom dangers, and going outside because they can not open doors. Only to have them finally grow tall enough to open said doors. This is a danger and if you haven’t already, it may be time to put a dead bolt on your front door to keep them inside.
There are countless stories about young toddlers and children leaving their home in the middle of the night and getting lost. Thankfully, most of these stories have a happy ending, but it has the potential to be very bad. I live in Canada, and right now it is winter. I know that if my daughter chooses to walk about of the house in the middle of the night, she would not have the ability to know to put on all her winter gear to make sure she is warm. This situation is terrifying, anything from abduction to hypothermia can happen.
5 Kisses For Everyone
Toddlers may be a handful, but it is one of the best time of their life. If only for the fact that they are so loving. They seem to love giving hugs and kisses, and not only with you. They will hug and kiss just about anyone, from great aunt Bertha, to the other kid at the playground. Shouldn’t this be a good thing? Shouldn’t we want our children to be loving and kind to everyone? Well, not exactly.
Kissing family is one thing, but when they are sharing some germs with another kid at the playground, it may be an invitation to some pretty deadly illnesses. You don’t know the other child, are they vaccinated? Are they ill? These can be potentially dangerous situations if the answers are no and yes, respectively. If you have been medically unable to vaccinate your child, and they encounter a child who is not vaccinated, then an illness could be passed on, either to your child or by your child. We shrug it off, but it can be very serious. Even just the flu can be life-threatening for a toddler.
4 All About Animals
Toddlers love animals! They love them, they don’t quite understand them, and they are just so fluffy. This is another part of their curious nature, and they want to learn more about this four-legged friend of theirs. It is no secret, that animals can attack. There are many dog attacks reported every year, and the victim is usually a child.
It is not just strange animals that we need to worry about, the enemy could be in our own home, just waiting to pounce. Sometimes, we bring our children home to pets that are already here, and it is an adjustment. The animal doesn’t normally just accept the new baby, it takes some time for them to get used to their smell and presence. 9 times out of 10, the animal adjusts, and they become best friends. There are moments, when the pet may become a ferocious animal. Toddlers are learning more about their friends, and this is when they start pulling and poking around. All it takes (sometimes) is for an animal to get provoked, or feel threatened and your sweet, good boy is now attacking your baby.
3 Need To Help
Toddlers love to help, and we do appreciate their go-get-it attitude, but sometimes it an be extremely dangerous. One of the most dangerous items in your house is located in your kitchen. That is, your dishwasher. That is because, when it is open, the sharp objects are right at their perfect level. The knives, and even forks and spoons are at an easy reach. Sometimes, they may want to help with the dishwasher, and this is when you may have to tell them no.
This goes back to the whole ‘turn your back for one second’ thing. One second is all it takes with a toddler, and this is not an exaggeration. You could turn around for one second to put a cup in the cupboard, and you turn around and your little one has a steak knife in their hand. They don’t know this item is dangerous, and could potentially kill them. Your first instinct is also to freak out. Try not to do that. It may scare them, and that knife may come flying out of their hand. It is best to remain calm, take the knife, and tell them we don’t touch.
2 Chewing Toys
We already talked about how toddlers are still in a phase where they want to put everything in their mouth. They can’t help it, they are still learning about the world, and what different textures and tastes are. A lot of what they put in their mouth is harmless, but there are some that have the potential to be fatal. One of the things that toddlers love chewing on are balloons. How could they not, they are colourful, and they float so wonderfully. Who wouldn’t want to see what that tastes like.
There are many deaths, every year, due to children choking on parts of balloons they have chewed. The problem is that latex is one of the worst items for a child to ingest, because the material conforms to the shape of their throat, and completely cuts off their ability to breathe. Now, we are not saying make sure your child is never around balloons, we don’t want to rob them of the joy. Just make sure they are supervised and never put them near or in their mouth.
Sometimes, the worst risk to a toddler comes from their own mother. They drive us so crazy, that we may eventually go too far. OK, THIS IS A JOKE. I am not seriously suggesting that mothers take their toddlers lives. Toddlerhood is the best, worst and most dangerous time of their life. From the constant questions, to the temper tantrums over the silliest things, we have days were we just don’t think we could do it all again tomorrow. Where we reach for the bottle of wine and just try and forget the day.
But, we love them, and we know they are just growing and learning and exploring. It is our job to make sure that they are in a safe environment. That they are still allowed to grow and learn, while we kind of hover in the background making sure no harm comes to them. While also teaching them why it is probably not a good idea to juggle sharp knives.