Playtime may seem trivial, but it’s critical in a child’s maturation. From infancy to the preteen years, you should encourage your child to engage in playtime for the sake of their cognitive, physical, emotional, and social development.
You may be surprised to hear the many benefits your baby can derive from daily exploratory playtime. Starting when your baby is just a few days old, you should give them two or three tummy time play sessions every day lasting three to five minutes. These short spurts of early playtime, and all playtime going forward, can:
- Boost your baby’s confidence
- Help your baby develop strength
- Teach your baby independence
- Encourage emotional resilience
- Foster problem-solving skills
Despite these remarkable benefits and others, playtime can come with its own risks. Injuries can happen as your infant learns spatial awareness and how to maneuver their growing body.
As family physicians, board-certified providers Clifton Etienne, MD, Michael Cavanagh, MD, and Flora Brewington, MD, specialize in pediatrics at Westmed Family Healthcare in Westminster, Colorado. From family planning to infant care and onward, our team is here to assist and answer your questions about becoming a parent and keeping your baby safe.
Our team wants to keep you informed of the many steps you can take to prevent infant injuries during playtime. Keep this helpful guide on hand to review safe infant playtime tips.
Check for choking hazards
Infants tend to explore the world by putting objects in their mouths. This means that small toys or loose parts of toys can pose a significant choking hazard for your baby. Before giving them a toy, inspect it carefully for any small parts that your child could swallow. Keep small objects, like coins, buttons, or beads, out of reach to prevent accidental ingestion.
Keep close supervision
Never leave your infant unattended during playtime. Even in a safe and child-proofed environment, accidents can happen. Stay close to your baby to monitor their play and intervene if you sense danger. Your presence can help prevent accidents and provide comfort to your small child during play.
Create a safe playspace
Designate a safe play area for your infant somewhere in your home. Use a playpen, baby gate, or a designated room that is free from hazards, and keep any nearby stairs blocked off if you’re on an upstairs floor.
Remove any potential hazards, such as sharp objects, electrical cords, or toxic substances, from the area. Ensure that the play area is clean, well-lit, and comfortable for your baby.
Use installable items to soften sharp corners and edges
Babies are prone to bumping into furniture and sharp corners as they start to move around. Protect your little one by using corner guards or soft protectors on sharp edges and furniture corners. This simple precaution can prevent painful bumps and bruises.
Secure heavy furniture
As infants start to pull themselves up and learn to stand, they may grab onto heavy furniture for support. Ensure that all of your furniture including bookshelves, dressers, and TV stands are stable and secure to prevent them from falling on your child. You should also install safety rails on your small child’s bed when they transition from a crib to a “big kid” bed.
Tie up nearby strings and cords
Babies are curious and may grab onto anything within their reach, including strings, cords, or the blinds on the window. Remove any dangling cords or strings from their play area to prevent strangulation hazards. Objects like cord winders or cordless blinds can reduce these risks.
Encourage gentle play only
An infant should never be shaken or jostled due to the risk of shaken baby syndrome, which can cause permanent brain damage. Monitor your baby with other children who might play a little too hard, and never flip, whip, jerk, or toss your baby. Taking these steps prevents many soft tissue injuries too.
Have questions? Contact us
Our experts at Westmed Family Healthcare always stay up-to-date on the latest guidelines for infant care and safety. For more tips on infant injury prevention or to schedule an appointment, call our office or book online today.