Photo Credit: Getty Images Entertainment; INFphoto.com
For rock star parents Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale, disaster struck last Thursday when their younger son Zuma, 2 ½, fell from a countertop at their home, sending the family rushing to the hospital to discover he suffered a broken arm.
All we can say is this: We have SO been there, Gwen and Gavin. As parents, we pride ourselves on watching our children like hawks, determined to protect them from even the littlest bump or scrape. But then it happens: You turn your head away for literally a second and suddenly you're planning the quickest route to the emergency room.
"It was probably one of the worst nights of our life," Rossdale told Us Magazine. "It was a freak accident. He fell…you feel so much when something happens to [your] kids. It's the worst thing in the world." (Aww, don’t you just want to give this super-sweet dad a hug?)
Rossdale’s feelings are understandable -- and we’re sure the incident traumatized him and Gwen way more than Zuma -- but Lara Zibners, M.D., a pediatrician with pediatric emergency room training and author of If Your Child Eats This Book, Everything Will Still Be OK, says parents like Rossdale shouldn’t beat themselves up when the inevitable accident occurs.
"Young children learn about the world using all of their senses, including touch and taste, which means that a hot cup of coffee or a bottle of Grandma’s pills are just something to examine: There is no recognition of danger,” explains Zibners. “Even the most well-supervised child can, and will, sustain a minor injury from time to time."
So what’s a concerned parent to do to keep their kids safe at home? While Zibners says child-proofing is no guarantee that you will avert danger, there are certain safety absolutes you can implement, including:
Keep all poisons locked up and out-of-reach. Not only should you lock up medications and other hazards, but place them on a high shelf that your child absolutely cannot reach.
Be aware of temporary hazards. Visitors -- especially those without kids -- may inadvertently bring unsafe items such as medications that aren't in kid-proof bottles to your home. Have guests place their purse and other items on a high shelf in the closet to be safe.
Keep an eagle eye out for standing water. A mop bucket, the tub you didn't drain right away, and a half-filled kiddie pool can seem harmless enough, but little kids can drown even in shallow water.
Avoid bathtime burns. Be sure to set your home’s water heater to a max of 125 degrees F to prevent accidental tap water burns.
The bottom line is make sure your home is safe, but don’t feel you need to secure your child in bubble wrap every time he makes a move. Falling down and getting back up is part of childhood -- and life. Just do your best and be ready with a bandage and a hug when the unavoidable accident occurs.