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parenting | safety-tips

The Kid-Friendly Party Guide – S4E1

Are you planning to have a party with family and friends? We have a guide to help make sure your celebration is safe for kids who may be in attendance. Jessica sits down with Emily Flanigan, the Program Strategy Specialist of Children’s Health at First Things First, to discuss how to keep kids safe during family gatherings, especially when alcohol and breakable dishes are involved.

Podcast Resources:
Home Safety Checklist
Household Safety for Babies
First Things First
Strong Families AZ
Host: Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez
Podcast Credits:

host Host: Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez is the Chief of the Office of Children’s Health at the Arizona Department of Health Services. She is married, has two young children, and loves reading (anything except parenting books!) and watching movies and TV. She loves to spend time with her kids (when they aren’t driving her crazy) and celebrating all of their little, and big, accomplishments. Jessica has been in the field of family and child development for over 20 years, working towards normalizing the hard work of parenting and making it easier to ask the hard questions.

host Guest: Emily Flanigan, Program Strategy Specialist of Children's Health at First Things First


Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: [00:00:00] Welcome to our fourth season of The Parenting Brief. I’m your host, Jessica [00:00:10] Stewart-Gonzalez, an Arizona working mom and Chief of the Office of Children’s Health at the Arizona Department of Health Services. If you have young children, you’re in the right place. With [00:00:20] every episode, we cover the tools you need to navigate the challenges and joys of parenthood. [00:00:30]

Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: Thank you for joining me today on The Parenting Brief. Getting together with friends and family to celebrate special occasions and [00:00:40] holidays is such an important part of family life. It’s important to keep safety in mind, especially when young kiddos are involved. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the moment [00:00:50] and forget about things like alcohol and breakable dishes that might be within reach of little hands.

Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: That’s why we’re here today, to help keep kids safe while families celebrate life’s important moments. [00:01:00]

Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: With us today is Emily Flanigan. Emily is the Program Strategy Specialist in Children’s [00:01:10] Health at First Things First. Thank you again for joining us today, Emily.

Emily Flanigan: Yes, thank you for having me. I’m happy to be here.

Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: What’s the best way for a party host to plan [00:01:20] for a party that kids will be at?

Emily Flanigan: Yeah, so they should, you know, take into account the age of the children that will be attending and if they need to do things like baby [00:01:30] proof, like put locks on cabinets, make sure that if they have a pool, that the pool gate is latched and locked, and that if there’s, you know, a backdoor leading out to [00:01:40] that, that’s locked as well. If the party’s inside, they should make sure anything such as, like, glass plates or cups aren’t reachable for the children and [00:01:50] out of their reach.

Emily Flanigan: And make sure any, like, household chemicals are locked away. Things like cleaners or medicines are out of reach and in a locked [00:02:00] area. So those are just a few things they can do to help prepare.

Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: Focusing a little more on safety, are there other things parents should look out for? [00:02:10]

Emily Flanigan: Yeah, I think being mindful of, you know, pets in the home. If the person who’s hosting the party has a dog or a cat who’s maybe not used to being [00:02:20] around small children, that can always pose a risk.

Emily Flanigan: So, you know, even if someone else could watch that pet, you know, if it could be at a different house during the party [00:02:30] or putting the pet in a different room, just so it’s not stressed out by all the, all the guests. And then, of course, children want to, you know, grab. animals or pet them. Um, [00:02:40] they’re curious about them. So that could always pose a risk.

Emily Flanigan: And then if there are firearms in the house, if people keep firearms and they’re not in a normal lock box to [00:02:50] make sure that those are locked and put away just like any medicines or chemicals or something like that. But firearms are another thing that we want to make sure are locked up and put away.

Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: How can [00:03:00] we maintain that kid’s safety throughout the party?

Emily Flanigan: Yeah, so it’s a good idea to have maybe one adult at each time during the party who’s [00:03:10] kind of designated for watching the children that can kind of observe when these things happen. Like, of course, you know, someone might put down that cup and so they can step [00:03:20] in when they see that child and, you know, take it out of their hands to make sure no injuries happen.

Emily Flanigan: And then whoever is kind of that child watcher at the time can alternate between [00:03:30] different adults. But just having one person who’s really supervising and aware of everything that’s going on can help from preventing those mishaps from happening. [00:03:40]

Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: What are some examples of foods that could be a choking hazard for children that might be served at a party? And what about potential allergies? How does one create an allergy [00:03:50] friendly menu?

Emily Flanigan: So, a lot of the common party foods can, you know, be choking hazards. So, things like chips, [00:04:00] popcorn, pretzels, a lot of those can present as choking hazards for young children. So, definitely thinking through what you want to serve at your party, or if you [00:04:10] do want to serve those foods, make sure, again, they’re high up, out of the reach of children.

Emily Flanigan: But if you do want to have, you know, things like grapes or hot dogs. Make sure they’re [00:04:20] cut up into very small pieces, about the size of the child’s pinky fingers, so it depends on the size of the child, but they should be kind of very small if you are going to [00:04:30] serve those. There are, of course, a wide variety of other foods you could serve that, you know, aren’t as prone to be choking hazards.

Emily Flanigan: But just think through what’s on your menu and [00:04:40] if it’s, you know, small, if it’s hard, if it’s sticky. So some of those sticky candies can also be choking hazards. Just thinking through your menu, and [00:04:50] then to prepare for allergies, it’s always a good idea, not just for children, but for adults to find out if any of your guests have allergies so you can make sure that you don’t have [00:05:00] those around, that you don’t serve those and to minimize any allergic reactions.

Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: What are some fun and engaging kid-friendly activities [00:05:10] that can keep them entertained and safe during a party?

Emily Flanigan: So having multiple things out can keep them occupied. So having a coloring table is always [00:05:20] something easy to set up. So just having blank sheets of paper or coloring books with crayons and markers can definitely keep them entertained for a while. Things like Play-Doh or any [00:05:30] kind of sensory play, like sensory bin with beans and, you know, dried beans and rice. Something that they can play with and get their hands in.

Emily Flanigan: If it’s outdoor, [00:05:40] having things like balls, frisbees, different things that they can be physically active with. You could set up like a small obstacle course or running [00:05:50] races. Also asking if you yourself are hosting the party, maybe don’t have small children, asking parents to bring their child’s favorite toys or their favorite [00:06:00] games.

Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: How important is it to have a sober adult present at a party where there will be kids, and what are some specific responsibilities this person should have? [00:06:10]

Emily Flanigan: So yes, it’s important to have, you know, multiple adults that can help out if they’re really young children like, you know, babies or toddlers, make sure there’s [00:06:20] one adult for one to two babies. But then if there’s multiple children, all different ages, we want to make sure that there’s more than one adult that can support them.

Emily Flanigan: Especially if [00:06:30] they’re different ages and they’re engaged in different activities, they might be in different parts of the party. So you might want one adult with one set of children and another adult supervising another [00:06:40] set of children. And then also, um, to make sure that they could have, you know, relief for the parents. So if one adult is watching the children, they can tag in [00:06:50] another adult who can take over watching those children.

Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: Sometimes it could be awkward to assign those roles to other parents. Do you have any advice on how to avoid the [00:07:00] potential awkwardness of asking parents coming to the party to be that dedicated sober adult?

Emily Flanigan: Yeah, that’s a great question. I mean, I think if you approach it that [00:07:10] everyone is coming to this party to enjoy themselves, to have fun, including the parents with the children and the children [00:07:20] themselves. So, asking the parent, you know, to take turns being that responsible child watcher at the time, you can remind them [00:07:30] that, hey, you’re responsible. Can you watch these children for an, you know, an hour and then the next hour you’re able to enjoy yourself, you know, [00:07:40] and kind of not have that responsibility.

Emily Flanigan: And it’s not placing shame or saying that someone can’t take care of them, but it’s relieving them of that responsibility so [00:07:50] that they can, you know, not worry about what their children are doing or what they’re getting into or if they’re in an unsafe situation because they can feel comfortable and confident knowing that someone is taking care of them [00:08:00] and someone’s watching them.

Emily Flanigan: And I think sharing that responsibility and spreading that out throughout the adults at the party is a great way to handle that. And of course, making sure [00:08:10] that those adults are sober and you know, they’re able to do that as well is a big factor too. [00:08:20]

Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: And thank you to our listeners for tuning in. We have more helpful resources and recommendations in the show [00:08:30] notes. Please share this podcast with other parents or soon to be parents in your life. We want everyone to know as much as they can about how to raise happy, healthy kids. Until next [00:08:40] time, this is Jessica. You’ve got this.

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