As babies develop, parents need to monitor potential dangers to their safety. This also means considering safe baby sitters and attitudes to discipline.

Everyone in the family feels bad when a baby is hurt or injured, so encouraging whānau to think prevention rather than regret is a great place to start.

Ask whānau:

  • What does safety mean to you?
  • What sorts of things could put a baby of this age in danger?

Draw out from whānau all the ways a young child could be at risk.


Mobile babies can be a real danger to themselves, and they rely completely on their whānau to keep them safe.

  • What do you think could be a danger to baby in your home?
  • Have you ever been surprised at where baby has managed to get to on their own?
  • What did you do?

Family members or visitors

It could be older siblings who leave doors and gates open or small toys around that pose a choking risk to baby. It might be visitors who have very little understanding of what’s appropriate for a baby to be exposed to.

Even parents themselves, in moments of distraction, might leave a hot drink or a glass within baby’s reach. From jammed fingers and toes to falls, burns, choking or poisoning, the results can be disastrous – and even fatal.

  • What do you do in your home to prevent this type of accident from happening?
  • Is there anything more you could do?

Safe babysitters

Make sure baby is left with carers who are up to the task. Is baby with someone who’s over 14 years old? This is the legal age in New Zealand to babysit, and the babysitter must be able to provide ‘reasonable supervision and care’.

With the family, read through the Tākai booklet Aroha in Action, page 9. The section called ‘Keep mokopuna spaces alcohol and drug free’ gives 6 reasons why adults who are drunk or ‘out of it’ shouldn’t be caring for babies.

  • Do you have any memories of being babysat by people you didn’t feel good about?
  • Why do you think you felt that way?

It’s so important for parents to think carefully about who they leave baby with, because babies this age can’t tell their parents how they’re feeling with words — they rely on their family to keep them safe.

Child unfriendly places

Young children and babies are taken many places with their whānau – such as cafés, pubs, sports clubs, shops, malls and supermarkets – and many of these places are not designed with babies in mind.

  • What would you describe as unfriendly places for your baby?
  • Why is that?

It’s not okay

In New Zealand we’re still learning about effective ways to manage children’s behaviour. Discipline and punishment often get confused as having the same meaning. Discipline means to train, teach and learn. Its te reo Māori translation, ‘ako’, refers to instruction or direction, development or improvement, a system of rules.

On the other hand, punishment is a penalty for wrongdoing and means rough handling, severe treatment, suffering, mistreatment, pain and loss.

  • Which one of these two options do you want for your baby?

Hitting, smacking, yelling, swearing or threatening violence are not healthy ways to teach and guide young human beings. They make children fearful and may traumatise them and hamper their development. Most parents don’t set out to abuse their kids, but sometimes the stresses of parenting and life take over and they ‘lose the plot’.

This is more likely to happen when physical or harsh punishment and verbal abuse have been part of their own upbringing.

  • How would you describe your upbringing? Were you disciplined, punished or both?
  • Do you think it’s ever okay to hit a child?
  • Why? Why not?
  • Is there an age when it is okay to start or stop punishment?
  • Should anyone left in charge be allowed to hit a child?
  • Why? Why not?

What do you think about this statement?

‘Children who are consistently handled with kind hands and good humour are far more likely to radiate those gifts back to the world.’

(from a Brainwave Trust article by Miriam McCaleb called Rethinking the nappy(external link))

How does this relate to Tākai resources?

Baby wall frieze – Kōrero mai, e aroha ana koe ki ahau – tell me you love me

Six things children need – Te ārahi me te māramatanga – guidance and understanding

Helpful resources for whānau