By Guest Blogger Elizabeth Sasso Smith

The subject of child safety is so broad it seems like there is an endless list of topics; bath safety, car safety, bike safety, home safety, water safety. As the mother of a toddler when someone mentions safety I think of gates, cabinet latches, outlet plugs,etc. At this point in my life my safety goal is to keep my child away from the things that could hurt him.But it leads me to question how much I should keep my child away from versus how much should I teach him to stay away from.For example do I put a gate up to keep my child out of the living room so he doesn’t mess with the picture frames, or do I focus on teaching him not to go into that room or not to touch the picture frames.

The level to which you teach your children versus keeping them away from any danger is different for every family. In the end we all want to protect our children from harm.I remember the first time I saw a toddler helmet in a baby product’s catalog. I had a good laugh about it while my infant slept in his swing. Then realized that yes one day he will be unstable on his feet and able to fall and hit his noggin at any point in time. I did not purchase the toddler crash helmet but obviously enough parents did. So what is the difference between that parent and me?

At the end of the day the difference is that I want to keep the pots on the back burners and the cleaning supplies in a locked cabinet, but I also want my son to learn what is dangerous. I want him to know that he can’t just jump off the top of the swing set, or touch something that is hot and that you can play on the driveway but not on the street. So am I taking a risk by allowing him to play on a swing set or be in the kitchen while I am cooking? Maybe I am, while I don’t want him to grow up in a bubble, I do want him to be safe.

Recently I had the opportunity to meet with a child safety advocate from Brenner’s Children’s Hospital. Majority of her focus ends up being on car safety and bike safety as those are two accidents that most often bring children to the emergency room. She said that the training class to be certified to approve car seat installations is a four day program that must be retaken every two years. This gave me a new appreciation for the limited number of fire men & women that are available to check your car seat. The best piece of advice that she gave me was to use the safety features that come with the products that you buy, they are there for a reason. For example I never use the strap that came with my changing table. It just seemed like an unnecessary step. Now I look at those things differently and try to remember that more than likely a child somewhere was injured that prompted the manufacturer to add the safety feature and I need to use it.

How do you find a balance between keeping your child away from danger and teaching him what is dangerous?