By Christine Ryan Jyoti
NEW YORK (Learnvest) — I cringe when I think of all the unnecessary products I bought in the hopes of creating baby nirvana (did we really need multiple themed tummy time mats?).
But what’s even more disturbing to me are the safety mistakes I made when my kids were young.
No one wants her kids to go without things that could lead them to happier and healthier lives, but that begs the question: Will this help my child lead a happier, healthier life?
Whether you have a baby, toddler or school-aged child, before you slap down that credit card, here are some things you may want to reconsider—and save that money instead.
Babies: baby walkers and baby powder
Baby walkers may give your little one more freedom, but according to the American Academy of Pediatrics they’re unsafe and may even be linked to delayed motor and mental development.
What to do instead: Let your children learn to walk on their own. You can help them out by bouncing them on your lap to develop leg muscles, buying supportive footwear and encouraging “cruising” by walking behind them while holding their hands. Make sure your home is baby-proofed to avoid unnecessary bumps and bruises along the way. (Here’s how to childproof inexpensively.)
And that sweet-smelling talcum powder? It’s actually dangerous for your little one. The AAP recommends against it because the powder is inhaled easily and can lead to breathing problems and lung damage.
What to do instead: Stick to a protective, nonscented ointment or cream for your baby’s delicate bottom. For more ways to protect your child from toxins, here’s our guide to safe, toxin-free kids products.
Toddlers and Preschoolers: recreational trampolines
Trampolines aren’t cheap (even the mini versions), but oh, how kids love them. Are they worth the investment? Not according to the AAP. The organization released an updated statement recently advising parents against recreational use of trampolines. All age groups are at risk of serious injury, but kids 5 and under are most at risk for injuries such as fractures and dislocations.
If you do have a trampoline, ensure there is adult supervision when it’s used and allow only one child to jump at a time. The AAP recommends making sure your homeowner’s insurance covers trampoline-related injuries. And don’t be fooled into believing netting will reduce the risk of injury; it doesn’t.
What to do instead: If your child is in love with trampolining, consider registering him in a gymnastics program with professional supervision.
School-age children: scooters and extracurricular activities
My kids are still in the training wheels phase of life, but beg for a scooter daily. I get nervous just watching the neighborhood kids whiz by. The AAP warns that young kids are at a higher risk for injury with scooters because they don’t have the best judgment of their skills or the road and traffic conditions. As a result, the AAP recommends kids under 8 shouldn’t be on them without close adult supervision.
What to do instead: If possible, hold off until your child is older and better able to control a scooter. When they’re ready, the Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends kids wear helmets, knee pads and elbow pads, ride on smooth pathways away from traffic and not use them after the sun goes down.
Extracurricular activities keep kids more engaged in school, less likely to get into trouble and more likely to go to college. But the abundance of choice and the hefty financial commitment can be overwhelming. It can also be overwhelming for the kids. Before paying for art classes, dance classes, kayak trips and out-of-town travel to brain bowl competitions, think about the physical toll each could take on your kid. For example, soccer is the sport with the second-most concussions, doctors say, and according to a study by the American Journal of Sports Medicine, girls experience twice as many as boys.
What to do instead: Research the cost, time commitment and risk involved with any extracurricular activity you’re considering and try to avoid overscheduling kids. Sleep deprivation has been shown to have adverse effects on teens’ behavior and cognitive abilities, so you don’t need to pack every hour with activity. Remember that dinner together and family downtime can be just as beneficial.
For eight more things not to buy your kids, click here.
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