Sunday, February 7, 2010

Street Smarts for Babies (& Grown-Ups Too!)

In my neighborhood there are a few streets in particular that make me nervous when I’m out and about with the baby and dog. The corner of Metropolitan Avenue and Graham Avenue is notorious for traffic, big trucks, unruly bicyclists, and frequent accidents. Meeker Avenue, which runs under the BQE is not well lit at night, and is home to the ramps to the highway, where cars race through red lights and speed down the three lane avenue. My own street, Grand Street, is noisy and congested, and the lights take so long that impatient pedestrians rarely wait for the lights to change to cross the street – they just walk right out into the slow-moving traffic, signaling to drivers, “Please-don’t-hit-me” with their hands as they cross in front of city buses and Mack trucks.

Now that I’m a new mom, I’m much more careful about crossing the streets around here. All the safety rules that I learned when I taught babies, toddlers and preschoolers at the Burlington Children’s Space have been coming back to me, one by one. Here’s a quiz to find out how street smart you are when walking your little one around the ‘hood.

Safety Quiz!

  1. Do you always look both ways? Even on one-way streets? Bicyclists in our neighborhood sometimes do not follow the rules of the road, and don't always ride in the correct direction on one-way streets.
  2. Do you wait for the lights to change? Even if you have jaywalked your whole life, it’s never too late to change.
  3. Do you stay on the sidewalk while you’re waiting? And do you stand back a foot or two from the street? Cars jump curbs all the time. Haven’t you ever noticed how beat up the trashcans and light posts are on street corners? What do you think has been running into them and leaving dents? Squirrels?
  4. Do you hang up your phone while walking with your child? Talking to your child while you’re on your walk helps you stay focused on your little one, and incidentally, helps develop their ever-expanding vocabulary.
  5. When passing in front of parking garages or blind driveways, do you slow down and look in front of your baby’s stroller to check to make sure there isn’t a car careening out the drive? Some garages have a bell or horn that goes off when there is a car on its way out – but with all the ambient city noise its easy to not to hear it, even when the alarm’s sounding five feet ahead.
  6. Do you watch out for taxis? (That’s a no-brainer).
  7. Are you careful about passing dogs? Even the cutest dogs might be fearful of small children. And no matter how friendly your own doggy may be, it’s better to ask the adult if it’s okay for the child to pet a dog.
  8. Do you put the stroller’s brake on if you need to stop to dig something out of your purse? Even if the stroller doesn’t appear to be rolling away? Better safe than sorry!
  9. Do you use the crosswalks? Crossing the street between parked cars when you’re walking with a baby or small child isn’t the safest thing in the world.
  10. Did you teach your babysitter? If you have a babysitter or nanny who will be taking your little one for walks, it might be a good idea to take at least one walk together.

How did you do? Did you get all ten? For more ideas on neighborhood safety visit Stroller Patrol. Call me overprotective, but I suppose you can never be too careful. I’ll be making sure to look both ways the next time I’m crossing a one-way street.


  1. Great quiz and I agree with LuLu, better to be safe than sorry later!

  2. This is a great quiz! I agree that we should all keep a good eye out for dangerous situations.

  3. Great tips - thanks so much! Mommy and I don't walk in busy areas very often, but they're good to remember...

  4. Thanks for all the comments on this post! Glad it was such a hot topic. Have fun (and stay safe) on your next neighborhood adventure with your little ones.