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Resources Centre / Twins Tips Introduction / Twins Tips / Safety Tips for Parents of Twins. Triplets & Multiples
Safety Tips for Parents of Twins. Triplets & Multiples
Childproofing homes is a challenge for all parents. but with twins. triplets or the job is multiplied. The following are some helpful guidelines and practical safety information designed with a family of multiples in mind but remember that no precautions are foolproof in the face of more than one determined child and keeping an open mind as to the potential hazards in any situation is very important.

In the Home
As the majority of the early years are spent in and around the home. this is a main focus area. The basic rule of thumb for beginners is to get down on the floor and crawl around your house in order to view it from a child's point of view.
  • It is important for everyone looking after your children to be equally safety conscious. i.e. Dad. Grandparents. relatives. friends. babysitter etc. You may find it easier and less stressful to have family and your children"s friends at your home.
  • Stay Alert ! While you are dealing with one crisis with one child. this is when the other(s) may get into trouble because your focus is elsewhere. Having "eyes in the back of your head" can come in very handy !
  • Never leave a child unsupervised in the bath and with multiples never turn your back on one whilst dealing with the other(s). If the phone or doorbell rings. leave it. Get everything you need ready beforehand and get all the children out of the bath together before drying them off and getting them all ready for bed. Make sure your hot water from the taps is not too hot. fit a temperature control if possible or a cover over the taps to prevent little hands from turning the taps on unexpectantly.
  • Bolt all high dressers. bookcases and other furniture to the wall. Dresser drawers and bookcases are good to climb and can easily fall on top of young children. Do not place cots near windows. Even when you think an item is too heavy to tip. but remember you'll have (at least) two toddlers to add their weight so take appropriate safety measures.
  • Keep the kitchen out of bounds to younger children wherever possible. Remember. two (or more) children can easily push a chair across the room to climb onto workbenches or to reach their desired object. Watch all medicines and cleaning chemicals. Those "child-proof" containers are not necessarily so when set upon by two or more determined children. Safeguard oven and hob controls so only adults can operate. Keep handles facing away from front of oven/hob (so a curious child won't pull hot contents down on themselves).
  • Place covers on all electrical outlets (sockets) with something that can't be pulled off or opened by a child under five years old. And tape electrical cords to the floor/walls for the time being. Secure access to fireplaces. fridges. washers. dryers. ovens. toilets. Use fireguards and safety catches on anything that the children may gain access to or become locked inside.
  • Put safety catches on all cupboards and drawers. The typical safety latches are not much of a deterrent to two or three kids tugging on the door or working together to open so look at hinged clasps or padlocks that may provide more security.
  • Keeping low windows or accessible (by chair or some improvised steps) windows locked can help to prevent children from opening them; but use the rule of one lock per child at each window for best results.
  • Protect baby/child from sharp edges of furniture. hearths and other corners that may cause bruising or other minor injury when fallen against. Take up any loose rugs or tape them firmly to the floor/carpet to avoid slips and slides of the running toddler.
  • Doors can be a danger to little fingers. There are safety devices which fit on the top. preventing the panels from closing quickly. Another option for dealing with these doors is to place a nail in the top fixing them in the open position. It may not look great. but it's better than dealing with pinched fingers! Some parents of multiples simply drape a towel over the top. This prevents the door from slamming shut. You can also buy child guards specifically made for doors.
  • Many incidents/accidents occur during nap-time. The children often share the same room and "encourage" each other in their creativity and exploration. Using a monitor may reduce potential hazards. If you wish to rest at the same time as the children. make sure you place the receiver right beside your ear.
  • Stereos and TVs have been known to be pushed off of the entertainment centres or climbed up to reach a desired object. You may wish to either put them higher up for the time being or bolt them down. Remove any ornaments that you treasure !
  • If you have stairs in your home. it is beneficial to begin teaching them as soon as they are crawling to go down backwards. It is safest to stand in front of them when they are going down the stairs so you can catch them if they fall. They soon learn how to descend and ascend safely and the stairs become less risky. Absolutely no pushing. shoving or running on the stairs
  • Fit safety gates on the stairs and kitchen as a minimum but remember. they are never always completely secure. Kids can climb them. push them over. pull the security bolts out of the wall and my children have even been able to slip their fingers into the catches to release them ! Two or three determined toddlers can be very strong-minded and gates. even those bolted to a wall. may not be able to withstand constant climbing and shaking. Regularly check to be sure the wall bolts are holding. Don't even consider purchasing the suction-cup kind of security gate. It won't stay stuck to the wall for very long with two or more kids climbing on it. Use closed doors (perhaps locked) to seal off areas of the house where you don't want them to go. For example: Kitchen. bathroom. garage. basement. exterior doors.
  • Make sure that you have a house key hidden outside of your house or with a neighbour that you know will be about if needed. Either the children can inadvertently lock you out or even the wind can blow the door shut and leave your children unattended inside.
  • Children can be really hard on a pet and/or they may get scratched or bitten as a result. Teach them to respect pets.
  • Have a fire safety plan in place. An "emergency quilt" is a quilt. blanket. sheet. etc. that's large enough to hold all (2-6) kids. In an emergency. place quilt on floor. put babies into centre and pull up corners to carry out. Simple. Even if they are (combined) too heavy to carry. you can pull the whole quilt and get all little ones out at the same time rather than deciding who to take first and then returning (how many times?) to get the others. Fit smoke detectors around the house and check the regularly. Your local fire station will come out and fir these for free.
Baby Equipment
  • Make sure all your equipment is in good repair. Check each piece at regular intervals as it gets a lot of use with so many children using it. Carefully check out any secondhand equipment. Look for outdated safety features. cracks or rips. If you are in doubt about its age or durability. don't use it.
  • Make sure each child is safely harnessed into swings. car seats. highchairs. etc. One can easily undo the other and then they get into mischief.
  • Cots should be dismantled when the kids try to climb out of it. If they are "trying". it won't be long before they succeed. Take the initiative and make up your cot bed or invest in a "real" bed (toddler beds are lower and safer for little ones to climb out of - and they will many times ! ).
  • It is recommended that you always purchase a new car seat but remember to keep the manufacturer's instructions so that they can be included with the seat when you want to sell it as these instructions indicate the correct way to install the seat.
Toys
  • Purchase toys that appeal to multiple children and encourage play. This discourages them from seeking out alternative measures of entertainment. Toys of older children can be a source of danger so be vigilant if you have older siblings.
  • Always check out second hand toys prior to purchasing. Look for small pieces that might break off. sharp edges or broken parts. Toys receive a lot of use by families with multiples and the quality of the toys needs to be able to withstand all that extra use.
  • Never assume the suggested age-range for a toy is appropriate for your children. Know the capabilities of each of your children and purchase toys to suit their skills.
  • It is not unusual for toys to be used as a "weapon" against a sibling or cause an accident as they swing it around. Watch carefully that drum sticks are not also used to drum on each other"s heads! I personally tried to avoid anything with sticks or hammers unless they were attached to the toy but even when they were two and I thought it was safe. I found they would accidentally hit each other with croquet sticks and golf clubs !.
In the Car
  • Teach everyone to stand clear when closing any doors. Discourage the slamming of doors. Someone could get hurt or fingers get caught.
  • NEVER leave children alone in a car with the engine running. They can get loose and put the car into gear. This has happened on many occasions. ALWAYS put your car in "park" or turn it off when someone is disembarking. If you have to leave the car to assist someone disembarking. take the care keys with you.
  • Do not store articles on the floor in front of your children or put items on the back shelf window area. In a crash these items become flying objects and can inflict serious injury.
  • When loading the children into the car. put them all loose into the car first and then fasten each into their seat. When removing them. get your buggy out first and set it up in front of the car door. Unloosen all of the children and then one by one put them into the stroller and fasten each in. The others are still loose in the car but can't get by your body to run off. If you were to put one down onto the pavement and turn to deal with another. the one you just put down will run off in who knows which direction. You need to know where they all are all of the time. An alternative is also to use child safety reins that attach to a parent belt so you can take one child out the car and whilst getting the other one out. the first cannot run off as they are attached to you.
  • Be aware that one child will probably not be able to undue his own car seat belt but it will be relatively easy for him to reach over and undue one of his siblings. If you find that this has happened to you. DON'T PANIC. Use your voice as a parenting tool to tell your child to stand still. Pull your vehicle over to the side of the road. stop completely and then deal with putting your child back into his car seat. Never try to put the child back into his seat while the car is still moving. Seat belt/restraint covers can also be purchased to prevent the opening by a child.
Swimming
  • Get your children into swim classes at your earliest possible convenience.
  • Discuss water safety equipment and why we need it: life jackets. pool equipment. etc.
  • No pushing. shoving or running around the pool.
  • Never let the children swim without an adult who can swim being present. If you are hiring a nanny or someone to assist you with childcare. you may wish to ask if they can swim.
  • If you are taking several children to the beach/pool. determine ahead of time who will be responsible for whom. "I will be watching Abbey and Ellen and Mary and you will be watching Jack and Cameron."
Venturing Out
  • Right from the beginning. stress staying together on outings. The kids. too. have a responsibility not to get lost. Count heads every few minutes so you know right away if someone is missing.
  • Practice. practice. practice: looking both ways and holding hands before crossing the road. reading road signs. recognising danger signs. Keep repeating the safety rules so that everyone learns them and eventually they will learn to prompt each other.
  • Firm reminders of safety rules may be necessary with consistent "time out" for reinforcements or infractions.
  • On public outings. dress your children in bright colours to make identifying and locating them easier.
  • When walking in crowded areas (e.g. stores. shopping mall. markets). keeping them all in a buggy. shopping trolley or on a child harness may be the way to go. Make it as easy as possible on everyone. I always use a buggy or child reins when shopping now as I have spent quite a few occasions running up and down the aisles chasing runaway children !
General Safety Tips
  • Remember that some safety items are just not negotiable (such as using your seat belt).
  • Teach them their phone number and area code as soon as they are able to learn it. It is easier to teach to them. and for them to learn. as a song melody.
  • Teach them identifying landmarks in your neighbourhood as soon as possible. Make it a game by seeing if they can tell you where they live and try and spot when your house is coming up.
  • When your child is completing a difficult task. remind them to "concentrate" on what they are doing. This helps them to keep a focus on the task they are attempting to complete.
  • Multiples will often attempt to "change" each other's nappies. Beware!
  • Remember that your younger children are not the responsibility of your older children. A ten year old cannot look after and make responsible decisions for 2 or 3 four year olds.
  • Never carry your buggy/pram up stairs with the babies in it and never leave the babies alone in a buggy/pram.
  • NOTHING beats constant. alert. vigilant adult supervision.

Tripletproofing
With triplets or more. you need to look for more than the usual concerns as three (or more) the same age will get into more by helping one another. All areas they have access to should be examined carefully. not just the rooms they are in most- the whole house. the garage. the patio. the porch. the garden. the yard. and so on. Anyplace you go with your toddling trio should be quickly evaluated. and if not safe. limit time there as well as you can. Once they get to about five years. most of the need for this is past. Still. even older children can get into some surprising not so safe situations. So always try to be alert to what they are up to.

Complacency
A level of safety can be experienced by multiples and/or their parents when they are with each other. This level of comfort in togetherness can too easily create a feeling of safety and security that does not necessarily exist. "Oh. they are together. It shouldn't be a problem." This is particularly true of the middle. pre-teen and teen years. It is very important to talk openly about this perceived comfort level and to encourage each of your children to stay alert and make wise decisions as the situation make demands.


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