Tips For Creating A Safe Backyard Play Area For Kids

Kids love the outdoors, and it’s healthy for them to play outside. In a world where new generations are choosing the internet over playdates more and more, promoting outdoor play is necessary.

Kids love the outdoors, and it’s healthy for them to play outside. In a world where new generations are choosing the internet over playdates more and more, promoting outdoor play is necessary.

One great way to achieve this is having a backyard where your kids can play, but it has to be completely safe for them. It’s very common to see kids with broken bones and injuries related to playgrounds and outdoor play, so we have gathered the essential tips for creating a safe backyard play area for kids.

General safety for backyards

You have to set some rules: The first thing parents need to do to have a safe backyard is making their kid understand basic rules when playing outside. This way, all the effort you put into making your backyard safe won’t be in vain. Some basic rules include staying inside the backyard and not going outside of it alone, and not talking to strangers without the parents being present.

Fence your backyard: It’s hard for kids to know the limits of a space if they can’t visualize it, so it’s important that parents make that separation visual. Also, fenced backyards are safer from burglars or any person that may be unwanted on your property or near your children.

Get rid of possible injury hazards: Check your background and look for anything that could harm your kid. Some things are pretty obvious, like grills, lawnmowers, or outdoor outlets. But this is the part where parents have to get creative and imagine every possible scenario.

Always supervise your kid: This is an instinct for pretty much every parent. But it needs to kick in especially when it comes to outdoor play. As many rules as you teach your child, they can always do dangerous things, so make sure your kid is always supervised either by you or someone you trust.

What to do if there’s an emergency: It doesn’t matter how much you protect your play area, accidents can always happen, and parents need to be ready at all times. A first-aid kit is obligatory in any home, especially one with a backyard play area and kids. Parents also need to know how to use it, and preferably have some knowledge of first-aid for kids. Emergency numbers have to be on hand too.

Check your backyard every day: New hazards can appear daily, so a rigorous check on your backyard has to be done every day for as long as your kid will be playing there.

Setting up a safe playground

Cover up, and get rid of everything that could harm your kid: Check the playground carefully, and start covering and setting apart anything that’s dangerous. This is something to consider when you’re purchasing the playground as well. It’s never good to have cords, as they can quickly become strangulation hazards, and anything that protrudes or has sharp points needs to be covered.

Swings: Swings are some of the most dangerous parts of a playground, so parents need to be especially careful with them. Always try to purchase swings with seats that aren’t so harsh, like wooden ones. And don’t put more than two swings in the same section, as it won’t be stable. Go for a swing set that’s sturdy and your child can grow into.

Slides: There are a few things to consider when it comes to slides. Firstly, they shouldn’t be too tall, some have established they shouldn’t be higher than four feet for young children, and lower than six feet for older children. The landing has to be on a soft surface, always avoiding concrete or a harsh material. You may also consider covering the landing space with foam or other protecting materials. Another thing you could check regularly is the temperature of the slide before your kid goes on it.

Some other tips

Trampolines: Every kid loves a trampoline, but in case you are considering getting one, you need to be careful with a few things. Make sure it’s in good condition have it be regularly checked. Also, the surroundings have to be free of any hazards (walls, furniture, equipment), and the frames have to be padded. Learn more about trampoline hazards.

Pools and hot tubs: These are fun for the whole family, but parents have to make sure it is a safe place for kids. Putting up fences on a pool is an excellent idea to avoid accidents, and installing non-slip surfaces can help when kids don’t understand that they shouldn’t run around the pool. Of course, having a clean pool is obligatory, and always make sure that your kid is being supervised (even teenagers).

A happy kid is a happy parent, and kids that play outside are notably happier. Getting them out of the computer every once in a while is healthy for them, and with these tips, you can make sure that your kid will be safe and have fun.

Henna Tattoos – How Safe Are They for Your Child?

Today, tattoos are considered a fashion accessory. With top celebrities getting inked, teenagers and even younger kids can’t wait to get similar designs on their bodies. While permanent tattoos are painful, expensive and well, permanent, temporary tattoos are quite popular among pre-teens and teens. One of such temporary tattoos is the henna tattoo. And with the trend catching up, one question that all parents need to ask is – Are henna tattoos safe for the kids?

Today, tattoos are considered a fashion accessory. With top celebrities getting inked, teenagers and even younger kids can’t wait to get similar designs on their bodies. While permanent tattoos are painful, expensive and well, permanent, temporary tattoos are quite popular among pre-teens and teens. One of such temporary tattoos is the henna tattoo. And with the trend catching up, one question that all parents need to ask is – Are henna tattoos safe for the kids?

What Are Henna Tattoos

The word ‘henna’, which comes from the Arabic word ḥinnā, is a dye prepared from the henna plant. The dye is commonly used for coloring skin, nails, hair or leather. Henna tattoos are temporary designs made on the body using these dyes. Though these tattoos originated in Egypt and were embraced by the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, the trend has caught up in the western countries in recent times. The tattoos are made by staining the top few layers of the skin as opposed to injecting ink into the skin as in the case of permanent tattoos. Young people and even kids are seen sporting these temporary tattoos in parties and at carnivals.

Henna tattoos are popular among kids because:

  • They are temporary. The tattoo wears off in 1-2 weeks.
  • The procedure of getting a henna tattoo is painless.
  • They are inexpensive.
  • When done by a professional, the designs can be quite beautiful and attractive.

Types of Henna

You need to know what types of henna are used in the tattoos to better understand what is safe for kids.

  1. Natural Henna – It is made up of a paste from the dried leaves of the henna plant and essential oils like Eucalyptus oil or lemon oil. The paste is dark bottle green in color. The artist would recommend the tattoo to be washed off after 4-5 hours or that the design be left overnight to dry. After the dried henna is scraped off or washed, the design is orange in color and it slowly darkens to a red-brown in the next 24 hours. Once completely darkened, it starts fading and is gone in a week or so.
  2. Black Henna or Chemical Henna – Some henna artists apply black henna which will give the body design a black color, more like a real tattoo, instead of the red-brown of the natural henna. This henna is laden with chemicals to deepen the color. It might contain unlisted dyes too. It often contains para-phenylenediamine (PPD), a hair dye that is banned from using on the skin in many western countries.

How Can Henna Affect Your Child

Natural Henna is generally considered safe. Since it is a plant-based extract, when used in the pure form without chemical additives, it is low-risk. However, since it usually contains essential oils, predominantly eucalyptus oil, you might want to steer clear of it if your child is allergic to essential oils.

The chemicals in black henna can trigger several skin allergies. The hazards of PPD are more serious. It is known to cause severe allergic reactions such as itching, blisters, and even permanent scarring! Black Henna pastes can contain PPD from 10% to a staggering 80%! And if that isn’t scary enough, PPD exposure in childhood can lead to several problems in adulthood too. If a person is sensitized at an early age, he or she may become allergic to chemical hair dyes, perfumes, printer ink, and even some medications when older. The effects may include hospitalization or life-threatening reactions.

How to Keep Kids Safe

The red flags – if you find these, run away from the tattoos like the plague!

  1. The artist tells you the paste being used is not pure henna, but with additives to enhance color.
  2. The artist asks the paste to be washed off after one hour.
  3. The artist tells you the tattoo would be a nice black like the permanent tattoos.
  4. The henna paste has a strong chemical odor and black color.
  5. The henna is natural, but your child is allergic to essential oils.

Finally, remember that you can never be too careful with the kids. So, if in doubt about the quality of the henna, it is best to avoid letting your child get a tattoo, even if it creates tension with your child.

If after your child has had a henna tattoo, they develop an allergic reaction, go to the doctor! Also, if you suspect your child has had a tattoo previously, it would be advisable to consult a physician even in the absence of any reaction, to discuss the consequences of PPD exposure.

Stay safe!

The hill I’m willing to die on

I’m so proud that probably the most important, yet emotionally charged, blog post I’ve written has traveled farther around the internet than I would have ever expected. If just one mother decides to keep the boy she’s pregnant with whole, or one dad says, “I’m cut and my two sons are cut, but my next son will remain intact,” then I will have been successful. Regardless of the number of interpersonal relationships I’ve strained or the number of people I’ve outright pissed off, a seed has been planted.

The topic of routine infant circumcision is not one that can be neatly summed up in one post, though, so I’m highlighting links and comments left on my last post to provide additional food for thought.

Instead of outlawing the practice all together for being antiquated, unnecessary, and detrimental, the ”medical reasons” for circumcision change from century to century to fit with the issues of the time. Whereas today it is sold as a way to reduce the risk of UTIs, penile cancer, STDs, and HIV (efforts are being made to circumcise in African countries for this very reason), here are the medical reasons for circumcision in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in doctors’ own words:

“A remedy [for masturbation] which is almost always successful in small boys is circumcision…The operation should be performed by a surgeon without administering an anaesthetic, as the pain attending the operation will have a salutary effect upon the mind, especially if it be connected with the idea of punishment…” [John Harvey Kellogg. Plain Facts for Old and Young. Burlington, Iowa: F. Segner & Co. 1888:295.]

“In all cases of masturbation circumcision is undoubtedly the physicians’ closest friend and ally…To obtain the best results one must cut away enough skin and mucous membrane to rather put it on the stretch when erections come later. There must be no play in the skin after the wound has thoroughly healed, but it must fit tightly over the penis, for should there be any play the patient will be found to readily resume his practice. . .” [E. J. Spratling. Masturbation in the Adult. Medical Record 1895;24:442-443.]

“Local indications for circumcision: Hygienic, phimosis, paraphimosis, redundancy (where the prepuce more than covers the glans). adhesions, papillomata, eczema (acute and chronic), oedema, chancre, chancroid, cicatrices, inflammatory thickening, elephantiasis, naevus, epithelioma, gangrene, tuberculosis, preputial calculi, hip-joint disease, hernia. Systemic indications: Onanism, seminal emissions, enuresis, dysuria, retention, general nervousness, impotence, convulsions, hystero-epilepsy.” [George F. Shrady. Circumscisus. Medical Record 1896;49:430]

“Circumcision offers a diminished tendency to masturbation, nocturnal pollutions, convulsions and other nervous results of local irritation. It is the moral duty of every physician to encourage circumcision in the young…” [Abraham L. Wolbarst. Universal Circumcision. Journal of the American Medical Association 1914;62:92-97.]

“…[W]e do feel that there are many excellent reasons for routinely circumcising the male… Longevity, immunity to nearly all physical and mental illness, increased physical vigor, etc., are all attributed to this practice… In addition to the aforementioned reasons for doing the operation, we shall list several reasons to support immediate circumcision. … Convenience: Under the present regime the obstetrician finishes his episiotomy, walks across the hall and circumcises the infant, and is finished with the whole business.” [Richard L. Miller. Donald C. Snyder. Immediate Circumcision of the Newborn Male. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 1953;65:1-11.]


Today, however, non-American medical associations (here is the AAP’s policy) such as the Royal Dutch Medical Association have a firm stance against routine infant circumcision:

“The official viewpoint of KNMG and other related medical/scientific organisations is that non-therapeutic circumcision of male minors is a violation of children’s rights to autonomy and physical integrity. Contrary to popular belief, circumcision can cause complications – bleeding, infection, urethral stricture and panic attacks are particularly common. KNMG is therefore urging a strong policy of deterrence. KNMG is calling upon doctors to actively and insistently inform parents who are considering the procedure of the absence of medical benefits and the danger of complications.”

Despite the beliefs held in other nations and the easy access to information in the internet age, Americans, albeit in decreasing numbers, are still circumcising. Here a reader named Roger gives a few reasons why:

Dad fears that son will be mocked and taunted in the sports locker room and in summer camp. Nobody mentions that this never happens after a boy finishes high school. Never mind that most parents believe that a young woman should be proud of the body that God gave her, and should have nothing to do with young men who do not accept her as she is. Never mind that an intact boy can simply be told that he is healthy and normal, and that almost every male is born looking as he does.”

Yes. Should I plan on breast implants for my daughter in case she’s an A cup like her mama, so boys will like her?

“Parents believe that if routine circumcision were harmful, doctors would not offer to do it.”

As I sit here today while an acquaintance delivers her baby via scheduled c-section because she is “too short to dilate,” I am reminded that physicians are often placed on a pedestal of omniscience from which they are thought to be able to do no wrong.

“Many families circumcise their sons because Dad insists on it, despite Mom having serious reservations about the practice. Mom decides that this is not a hill she is willing to die on.”

I’ve read dozens of comments online from women who leave the decision up to their husbands simply because they have a penis, or who are against circumcision but defer to their husbands’ wishes to have a son who “looks like him.” (Fortunately, there are many other men who are bold enough to not do to their sons what was done to them.)

Here’s where I tell you what I have not told my husband.

If he had an extramarital affair then perhaps (and that’s a very small perhaps) we could work it out. But if he was adamant about having either of our children circumcised I would be on the next flight to Mexico. . .with my babies.

It is a hill I’m willing to die on.