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Playing in the Backyard: 5 Ways to Make it Safer for Kids

​If you have a backyard, make it a safe play for your children to play by checking for potential hazards. Five tips to keep in mind:

  1. Boundaries & supervision. If you don't have a fenced yard, teach your child the boundaries where he should play. He may not always follow your guidelines, so watch him very closely. Always have a responsible person supervise outdoor play, as young children may wander off or get injured. Never allow your children to play unattended near traffic or in the street, and don't let them cross the street by themselves, even to a waiting school bus. Also, always supervise children on trampolines. Provide constant, touch supervision around pools or other bodies of water (see Pool Dangers and Drowning Prevention—When it's Not Swimming Time).

  2. Dangerous plants. Teach your child never to pick and eat anything from a plant, no matter how good it looks, without your permission. Among preschoolers, plants are a leading cause of poisoning. If you are unsure about the plants in your yard, call the Poison Help line (1-800-222-1222) and request a list of poisonous plants common to your area. If you have poisonous plants, either replace them or securely fence and lock that area of the yard.

  3. Lawn & garden chemicals. If you use pesticides or herbicides on your lawn or garden, use only organic-approved products, and read and follow the instructions carefully. Don't allow children to play on a treated lawn for at least forty-eight hours.

  4. Lawn mowers. Don't use a power mower to cut the lawn when young children are around. Mowers may throw sticks or stones with enough force to injure chil­dren. Never have your child on a riding mower even when you are driving. It is safest to keep young children indoors while the lawn is being mowed.

  5. Hot grills. When you cook food outdoors, screen the grill so your child cannot touch it, and explain that it is hot like the stove in the kitchen. Store pro­pane grills so your child cannot reach the knobs. Be sure charcoal is cold before dumping it.


​Just like you childproof your home​, remember to check for hazards in your backyard.  Talk with your pediatrician if you have any questions about keeping your child safe in and around the home.

Last Updated
Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5 7th Edition (Copyright © 2019 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.