Childproofing the Church

October 4th, 2013

Anyone who has a baby or toddler in the home knows that dangers are lurking everywhere! Cleaning supplies under the kitchen sink, sharp corners on the coffee table in the living room, hot water coming out of the bathroom tap…these dangers are not imagined. They are very real.

Injuries are the number one killer of children each year, and many of those injuries are very preventable.

That’s why child-proofing our homes has become a priority for parents with young children. But, how often do we as teachers and caregivers in the church community think about childproofing our church classrooms and meeting places?

While not every precaution that is taken at home or in a day care center is necessary in every church classroom, it is important that we pay particular attention to the areas in which babies and young children will be spending a large amount of time. Nurseries and toddler rooms are obviously very important, but you may want to extend your efforts to include parent/baby private worship areas and large fellowship areas as well.

Consider the following tips:

  • Keep poisonous chemicals, choking hazards, matches, lighters and other dangerous materials out of the reach of babies and young children. Remember anything small enough to fit into a cardboard toilet paper roll is a choking hazard. Lock drawers and closets where children have easy access.
  • Consider the furniture in areas where babies and toddlers will be playing. Is it sturdy and not easily turned over? Are there sharp corners that need to be covered? Are there any climbing hazards? Be especially mindful of carts with televisions or other heavy equipment.
  • Cover wall outlets. Simple safety plugs are an inexpensive way to make sure that little ones don’t explore electrical outlets.
  • Make sure toys and craft supplies are age appropriate. Regularly inspect items in the nursery or toddler rooms (including cribs, changing tables, bouncing chairs, and toys) to make sure that they meet current safety requirements and that there are no loose parts or breaks that may cause injuries. Disinfect items regularly to help prevent the spread of germs.
  • Remove dangling cords, curtains, or other items that a young child can pull or in which a child can become entangled.
  • Pay attention to pinching hazards and heavy doors that close on their own. Consider using door stops or baby safety gates if needed.
  • Make sure that the playground equipment is kept in good condition (no rusted, broken parts, no sharp edges) and has a shock-absorbing ground covering which helps provide a more cushioned landing for the inevitable falls. In addition, consider fencing in the area and including a safety gate that cannot be opened by little ones.

These are some of the most basic childproofing issues to consider. It is definitely not an exhaustive list. Many child safety experts recommend actually getting down on your hands and knees and crawling around a room in order to “see” the room from a little one’s perspective. Dangers may be more obvious that way.

Whatever we do, let’s not ignore the issues. Childproofing isn’t just something we do at home. Our churches must be safe for everyone, even the tiniest members of our congregations.

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