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Playground Safety Scoop

Before you let your little crawler or climber loose on the local jungle gym this spring, remember that not all playgrounds were created equal. Keep in mind these safety tips from Angela Mickalide, program director for the National Safe Kids Campaign in Washington, DC.

1. Look for mini equipment for your mini you. Be wary of letting your baby on any slide or climbing structure more than a few feet high; the farther she falls, the worse the injury.

2. Watch out for the big guys. Older kids can get very  -- shall we say  -- enthusiastic at the park. The best-designed playgrounds have tot equipment in a section away from where the older kids play, so little ones aren't in danger of getting plowed down.

3. Grass isn't best. Believe it or not, the green stuff isn't considered a safe playground surface (the dirt underneath is too hard). Smarter surface choices: sand, pea gravel, wood chips, or rubber-type mats, which provide better cushioning if your child falls.

4. Don't let your baby eat sand. Okay, this one sounds obvious, but sandboxes are often breeding grounds for bacteria from insect and animal droppings, so always watch her closely as she builds her castles. If you have a sandbox at home, cover it up when not in use.

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