How to prevent accidents at parent and toddler groups
Parent and toddler groups offer a great opportunity for social interaction – whether it’s between parents eager to swap stories of their little ones’ adventures or for children to meet and play with those of a similar age. For toddlers, it also represents a chance to engage in some pre-school learning.
With almost 700,000 babies born in the UK every year, there’s a strong and continued demand for this sort of group at venues right across the country.
Those running parent and toddler groups do, however, need to take precautions to ensure they are providing a safe environment for children.
Health and safety for toddler groups
While parent and toddler groups are often fun environments, there is clearly a risk involved in this type of activity. Whether it’s playing with a toy or being engaged in a physical activity, there’s always a chance of a young child having an accident, as any parent will know.
Typical issues to be aware of include:
- Trips and falls
- Scalds or burns
- Poisoning (eating or drinking things that aren’t safe for consumption)
Not only that, but parents are clearly likely to be sensitive about their children – and playgroups need to ensure that anyone who comes into contact with toddlers is aware of the safe, appropriate and professional way to act.
How to minimise risk for parents and toddlers
There are rules in place to govern the ratio of adults to children in such groups. It’s important that you meet these as the rules have been designed to ensure that there is a safe level of supervision.
You can find details of the current staff to child ratio on gov.uk.
As well as the right ratio, you also need to conduct a risk assessment. This should identify all of the potential hazards in your setting and outline how the risk will be managed. This should be put into a policy and be distributed to every member of staff.
Here are some examples of practical things to consider:
- Items of play equipment should be safety checked
- Radiators and pipe work should be guarded – as should sockets and electrical cables
- Windows should have appropriate restrictors fitted
- Access to kitchen areas should be restricted to adults where possible
- Cleaning equipment should be safely stored and child proof caps used
- A careful cleaning regime is required to prevent infection
- Floor areas should be kept clear of trip hazards
- Hinge protectors should be fitted to doors where possible to avoid trapping fingers
- Have a chat to new parents to ensure you can cater for their child’s needs (especially important if they have a disability or allergy, for example)
Given that many parent and toddler groups are held in settings that weren’t designed specifically for this purpose – village halls, for example – it’s important to work with your chosen venue to see which measures can be introduced.
Finally, ensure that your staff are trained – to record accidents accurately, as well as administer First Aid where required.
What to do if an accident occurs
Yet, however good your policy or training is, accidents can still occur. It’s important not to panic, to carry out the measures outlined in your policy and calmly task a trained adult to attend to the child. You should make a note of the incident and any treatment that was required and keep a record of this.
Although the nature of parent and toddler groups means that parents are likely to be on hand, you might also wish to have a record of contact details just in case.
It’s also always worth reviewing your policy after an accident. If there’s any equipment you needed or lessons you can learn then you can update your document (and First Aid kit) accordingly.
Make sure you’re covered
Given the potential risks involved in a parent and toddler group, it makes sense to have an insurance policy in place that can cover you.
Markel’s cover can cover legal fees and compensation for anything ranging from a toddler tripping on a loose playmat through to an allegation that your group caused a serious injury to a child.