Never Leave Your Toddler Unattended
»Why it’s vital: “Supervision is the single most important thing a parent can do—and I can’t say this enough,” stresses Hopkins. It only takes a second for a curious toddler to get into an unsafe situation. Even with the most sophisticated and extensive childproofing, nothing will protect your toddler more than your watchful eye. “Supervision is number one; childproofi ng barriers are number two,” emphasizes Hopkins.
Secure a Pediatric Primary Health Provider
»Why it’s vital: In addition to the standard checkups, you need to have a regular pediatrician or family practitioner to call when your child gets sick, has an injury, displays developmental delays or has any other medical issue. “An ongoing relationship with one doctor is important,” says Csukas. “You need someone who knows your child’s health history because what’s normal for one child may not be normal for another.” Plus, it’ll provide you with peace of mind: You’ll have someone to call for “minor” emergencies like teething pain or knee raspberries.
Fully Immunize Your Child
»Why it’s vital: Fortunately, vaccination requirements for entering kindergarten have been effective in increasing vaccination coverage for toddlers. The CDC recently reported that in 75 percent of the U.S., 95 percent of the children received the fi ve vaccinations recommended for children starting school (polio, varicella, diptheria/tetanus/pertussis, measles/mumps/ rubella and hepatitis B). That’s the good news. The bad news: A small percentage of Americans believe vaccines are either unsafe or unnecessary. “Some people are frightened that vaccines can cause autism,” says McCoy. “That’s been completely disproved.” Complacency is another reason parents shun immunization. “We need to remember that just because we don’t see the disease anymore doesn’t mean it can’t come back,” she explains. “Pertussis did.”
Learn Toddler First Aid and CPR
»Why it’s vital: “It never hurts to know what to do when your toddler gets bumps, scrapes and bruises, and everybody should be CPR-certified,” says Hopkins. CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) is an emergency procedure that can be performed on anyone of any age who is not breathing or whose heart has stopped. When this happens, seconds count because brain damage or death can result.
For toddlers, most emergencies revolve around their airways as a result of near drowning or choking. It’s essential that parents learn how to re-establish air for their child, maintains Hopkins. To find a CPR or first aid class near you, visit the website of the American Red Cross (redcross.org) or the American Heart Association (americanheart.org).