Gardening with your toddler can be fun and educational. However, before you do, and because kids will be kids, there are important safety precautions you have to be aware of.
Here are some of them:
1. Check the Weather: Make sure the weather isn’t too hot or cold. That’s not just bad for your toddler, it’s bad for you too. If the weather is too cold for gardening, dress your toddler up warmly or better still, move your garden indoors. And if the weather is too hot, provide enough water and a shade for resting.
2. Stay Hydrated: This is incredibly important because toddlers are more susceptible to dehydration than adults. This is because they have small bodies and therefore, small water reserves. Before you take your toddler out to garden, make sure you’ve carried enough water, especially on a hot day.
Also, give them enough water to drink ahead of time. Dehydration in toddlers can lead to a reduction in urine and sunken eyes. In severe cases, it can lead to worse health complications.
3. Take the First Aid Kit: Kids will be kids, and even adults need the first aid kit from time to time. When gardening with your toddler, take your first aid kit with you and make sure it has the necessities.
There are many accidents that could happen while you garden with your kid, including scraped knees and cuts. These are inevitable, especially if your kid is really into gardening. So, make sure your first aid kit is stocked and at-hand.
4. Use the Right Tools: Kids have their own gardening tools. It is safe, and it fits the size of their hands properly. Don’t give them your own tools, no matter how small or safe it might look. Also, using the adequate gardening tools for kids makes the experience more fun and practical.
5. Practice Hygiene: This is very important. Before gardening, make sure you and your toddler wash your hands, and do the same after gardening.
Also thoroughly wash foods and fruits picked from the garden before eating them.
While you wash, use that time to teach your kids what happens when they don’t wash their hands properly after gardening. Or what happens when they eat unwashed fruits and vegetables.
6. Watch the Kids: Do this to make sure your kids are not eating the sand or putting unwashed fruits or vegetables into their mouth. You also want to make sure they are not using any unsafe tools or wandering close to the pools or ponds in the vicinity.
You can set a boundary to make sure this doesn’t happen. If you have to go inside to get something, take your kid with you. Don’t leave them without adult supervision.
7. Dress Appropriately: If the day is too hot, wear a garden hat, sunscreen, sunglasses and light clothing to allow fresh air. If it’s too cold, wear warm clothing. Also, wear sturdy shoes to protect from dangerous insects. Gloves and facemasks are important too.
There’s no telling what your kid could put their hands into. And facemasks ensure your child doesn’t inhale any harmful toxins. You may also need insect repellent. Follow the directions on the package for proper application.
8. Take Breaks: Do your best not to overwhelm the child. When you notice the child is tired, or getting restless and distracted, take a break. Use that time to go over what you’ve learnt from gardening that day, or ask your kid to tell you what they observed in the plants.
You can also use this opportunity for snack time and to get hydrated. Of course, make sure you thoroughly wash your hands before you eat or drink anything.
9. Choose Safe Plants: There are many plants you can plant in your toddler’s garden that can excite them. Some of them include sunflowers, pumpkin, strawberries, sweet peas, daffodils, marigolds, pansies, cherry tomatoes, basil, rosemary and carrots.
These plants are great sensory plants and will stimulate your child’s five senses. Avoid plants such as stinging nettles, roses, and cactus. Your toddler is too young to be around them.
10. Check the Soil: This is actually the first thing you should do before you build your garden. If you can, check the history of the site so you can know of things like contamination, pesticides, or lead in the soil. You should take the soil for a soil test if you can, and if you are satisfied with the results, then proceed with your garden. Your toddler will spend a lot of time there, you need to make sure it’s completely safe.
11. Record Allergies: This is important, so you can keep your child away from things that can trigger their allergies. Once your toddler spends a lot of time at the garden, watch them closely and make a record of things they are allergic to.
With that knowledge, you can decide what to plant and what not to. Also, if your child has a prior allergy, rid the garden of anything that will trigger it or keep them out entirely.
12. Store Tools in a Secure Place: Even if you get your child their own tools, there’s always a tendency they would want to use yours. So, keep any heavy or sharp machinery out of the garden. Unplug any tools and take out any keys. And, if you have to use it while they are there, keep them at a safe distance.
13. Keep ill Kids Away: If your child is ill or exhibiting symptoms of illness, keep them away from the garden. Also, keep them away if they have any cuts, bruises or scrapes. Even with sunscreen or any additional protection, the weather could worsen their illness.
Also, an open cut or bruise could become contaminated and that could lead to an infection. The safest cause of action is to keep the kid away until they are healthy again.
14. Attend to Injuries Immediately: The instant you notice any cuts or bruises, attend to them immediately. No matter how little or insignificant. This is why you need your first aid kit close by.
Attending to these cuts and bruises will ensure they don’t become contaminated. You should also watch the kids closely and make sure they don’t do anything that could hurt them or those around them.
15. Instruct Your Kids on the Proper Use of Tools: Before you put any tool into your toddler’s hands, instruct them how and when to use it.
Emphasise the point that the tools are not for playing and they can hurt someone or themselves if they don’t use them carefully.
Even with kid’s garden tools, there are some relatively sharp edges that can do damage if a kid were to poke someone or themselves with it.
16. Be Careful with Compost: To avoid attracting rats, cockroaches and other insects, keep the compost container or bin closed and away from the garden. Locate them at a place where they are not likely to drain into the edible plants in your garden. Also, not all foods can be composted.
So, don’t put dairy or meat products into the compost container. You should also avoid adding any animal manure; they often harbour harmful bacteria.
17. Beware of Electrical Safety: Some garden tools need electricity to make work fast and convenient. However, if you are going to connect the electricity to some tools, you need to be safety cautious.
For instance, you want to keep these tools far away from water and even farther away from your toddler. When it’s raining, don’t use any electrical tools. Accidents are more prone to happen when using electrical tools outside. So be very careful.
18. Keep Gardening Chemicals Away from Toddlers: Toddlers don’t understand how these chemicals work and if left with it unattended, they might use them the wrong way. To prevent this from happening, keep any harmful chemicals and manure locked away.
Make sure you have one container where you store these chemicals and instruct your toddler that touching it is a no-no. Also, don’t switch the container, so you don’t confuse your kid.
19. Beware of Insects: Most insect bites or stings are not generally harmful, even bees. However, they can be if your child is allergic to a bee sting or any other kind. So, make sure you have your allergic reaction treatments at-hand.
20. Talk to Your Kid about Garden Safety: Before you take your kid out in the garden, emphasise the need for safety. Let them know it’s not okay to run around the tools or near the pool or pond.
Tell them it’s not okay to put things in their mouth while in the garden, especially if you haven’t told them too. Show them how to use the tools and tell them what happens when they use it the wrong way.
Like most activities for kids, gardening has its dangers. However, these safety tips will make your toddler safe.