Toddler Rough Housing: Making Sure It Stays Play

My youngest son will come and sweetly kiss your nose, and then whack you in the face, giggle and do it again. He thinks hair pulling, yours or his, is hilarious. He head butts things for fun. He bites when you hug him. It certainly isn’t an indication he loves you any less. His older brother mastered the arm-bar wrestling move before he was 2 years old. Neither child is ever free of at least one bruise, bump, or scratch. I have little boys, perfectly normal, endlessly rowdy, rough-and-tumble, little boys, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Unfortunately, sometimes rough housing goes too far, and someone really gets hurt. Even regular rowdy needs regulation.rough housing

How can you tell regular toddler rough housing from unwanted aggression?

While aggression in toddlers isn’t abnormal, and is actually a sign of normal healthy development, it isn’t good when rough play turns into actual aggressive violence. As a parent, this makes it important to be able to tell the difference, so when your child isn’t just playing, you can act. Unfortunately, it’s hard to put into words how to tell violence from play. There isn’t just a list of signs to watch for someplace out there that you can catalog in your mind. Generally, over time, you’ll begin to notice certain traits or tics that show your child is escalating from play to anger. One of my sons, for example, will stick his tongue out and bite it when his intentions aren’t playful anymore. Naturally, if someone gets hurt, or if anyone involved is no longer having fun, it’s not a game anymore and it should stop.

How can you keep toddler rough housing all in good fun?

First, let the rules be known and stick to them. The most important thing with allowing rough-housing is to be clear on what is, and isn’t, OK. Just like with any other rule you present to your toddler, it may take time, but eventually they will learn and follow the rules if you are consistent with both punishment and praise. When your child does break a rule, let them see the natural consequence of their action coupled with your normal disciplinary system. If they hurt someone, let them see that.

Second, watch for signs that things are getting out of hand. It can help to turn settling down into a game of “freeze.” Anytime your child or children begin to get too excited yell, “freeze,” or “red light,” something to that effect that means, “stop!” By doing so you can reward listening, but also redirect attention to a new activity.

Lastly, introduce the idea of adaptability. What one parent sees as violence, may just be playing to another. What’s acceptable at home, may not be at school. Try to establish that rough play is for home only to help avoid complications.

Preventing Toddler Escapes: Keeping Your Child Houdini Safe

While the proficiency to open doors, latches, and gates may be one necessary to an older child, once a toddler masters these skills you may have yourself a problem. The independence, tenacity, and curiosity of toddlers make for astonishingly adept escape artists which have led to minor heart attacks for plenty of parents. Unfortunately, sometimes toddler escapes end in more than just minor heart attacks. For example, in 2015 a 3-year-old Toronto boy escaped his home in the middle of the night and despite a frantic neighborhood-wide search involving hundreds of people, the boy froze to death before being found. Tragedies such as this always prompt two sorts of commentary, the folks who have kids and can’t fathom the pain this poor family must be in and the finger-pointers, who always think something could have been done to prevent this. So, question is, can anything be done to stop a determined toddler from escaping while you say, sleep?toddler escapes

Lock it, latch it, and high.

You know that scene from Conspiracy Theory, where the suggested-crazy Jerry has an army of locks on his door? Yeah, your door should be sort of like that. The thing about toddlers is they learn— and fast. Having multiple locks or latches on exterior and no-no room doors provides extra protection as well as will take longer for your toddler to undo if they master how to do so. For example, your front door could have a door knob lock, a deadbolt, and a high set chain lock. This means even if your clever, clever child got a chair or used a broom stick to undo the chain lock, they’d still have to twist the deadbolt latch, and figure out the knob lock and chances are you’d catch them before they got that far. Don’t forget sliding doors and large windows either. At 3, one of our children unlocked his second-story bedroom window, climbed onto the back porch, and then down the lattice to the ground.

Remember that toddler escapes can happen while not at home as well. Keep child locks on your vehicle doors and have an extra key in your wallet or purse in case your child ever decides locking you out is more fun than escaping.

Sound the alarm.

Assuming you sleep, just slowing your toddler’s escapes down so you can catch them won’t always be effective. In this case, you want to make escapes noisy. You can purchase door alarms which install as easy as peel and stick for under 10 bucks a piece, but if you’d like to give some fairies wings, bells work well as well. A string of door bells can also be pretty decorative, so you can guard against escape without looking paranoid to those that don’t know the joys of a self-sufficient and resolute child. Heck, if you’re a hard sleeper you may want to do both.

Listen carefully.

On top of alarms or bells that baby monitor you likely haven’t even gotten around to putting away can become a toddler monitor. At night it helps make escape alerts sound louder in your bedroom and during the day it can help you be able to concentrate on other things such as housework without having to look around every 30-seconds because you can hear the mischief. Extra tip: Beware a silent child.

Be clear.

You can also take a proactive approach to toddler escapes by talking to your toddler about it. Depending on your child’s age you can either just have going outside without an adult be a no-no that is enforced the same way that say finger painting on the couch cushion is for younger toddlers or you can explain the dangers of going out alone with an older toddler.

Never forget.

Keep in mind that all of the above is useless if you don’t use it. While undoing 3 to 4 locks can be a pain, and remembering to power on an alarm if you turn it off to do something like carry in groceries can be easy to forget (another advantage of bells) there’s no point in these safety measures if you don’t use them and a pain in the butt is way easier than a broken heart from a missing, hurt, or worse child.

Allergic Reaction or Diaper Rash: How to Tell the Difference

If your baby is suffering from constant diaper rash and you’ve tried every cream in the aisle and trick in the book, it may not be diaper rash. While only roughly 10 percent of the general population suffered from a plastic or latex allergy as of 2016, when you consider there were about 7.4 billion people on earth in that year, 10 percent seems a little more significant.

How to tell if your child has diaper rash or a plastic allergy:

If your child is suffering from a plastic or latex allergy rather than typical diaper rash your first clue would be that typical diaper rash cures don’t have an effect. For example, your child may get the rash no matter how often you change his or her diaper.

Next, the location of the rash can be a good indicator whether or not you are dealing with a plastic allergy or diaper rash. Typical diaper rash occurs where fecal matter and urine touch most often and in high heat areas such as the creases between the genitals and legs. A rash caused by a plastic allergy will present where the skin is in contact with the plastic such as the waist line.

Finally, you may also notice a child with a plastic allergy frequently suffers from contact rashes outside of the diaper region, severe or minor. Keep a look out for tiny rash-like bumps on areas of the skin that come in direct contact with surfaces such as the forearms or legs. In severe plastic allergies, you may even find clothing with synthetic blends causes a reaction. An allergic reaction may present as a rash, hives, redness, itchiness or swelling. Allergies can develop at any time from birth to adulthood.

What to do about plastic allergies:

Unfortunately, there is only one option for parents with a baby or toddler allergic to plastic or latex, and that’s to stop using latex and plastic containing products. This does not mean you must use cloth diapers, though cloth diapers without the plastic cover are an option as long as they are made with materials that don’t contain synthetics. You can also find latex-free diapers such as Seventh Generation or G diapers. Pull ups which have a different design than normal disposable diapers to create less skin-to-skin contact with plastic also work for some children. You can ask your pediatrician for more latex- and plastic-free alternatives.

Many children outgrow a plastic allergy by age 5. Plastic allergies can sometimes be an indicator of other allergies or skin issues such as eczema though. Even if you determine your baby has an allergy and not typical diaper rash the situation should be evaluated by a health care professional.

You may also find useful:
Baby Rash Decoder
Diaper Rash Treatment and Prevention
Are Disposable Diapers Safe? Just the Facts