How To Keep Your Toddler Safe While At The Water Park: The Ultimate Guide

At 2-years-old, your toddler likely has no concept of what a water park is. But they’ll be in for a fun surprise when you show them the wonders of water parks. Aside from hyping your toddler up, there are certain things parents should do to ensure their child’s safety while visiting the park. The younger your child, the more prone they are to injury. Even more, a toddler may not be old enough to enjoy all the aspects of the water park.

Despite their young age, a water park can be a fun experience for a toddler with the right research and precautions. Below, we review everything you need to know about keeping toddlers safe at the water park.


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Protection From The Sun

Water parks are outdoors, which means you need to take precautions to protect your family from the sun. The younger the child, the more delicate their skin will be. Melanin – the skin pigment that offers some sun protection – develops with age, and is low in babies and toddlers, which is why they’re more prone to bad sunburning.

From identifying shade to using sunscreen, take all precautions you can shield your young child from the sun. Keep the following in mind:

Use a good sunscreen

Use a child-friendly sunscreen that’s water-resistant. Mineral sunscreens are preferable for children, since they’re easier on sensitive skin, as they use fewer abrasive ingredients. It’s important to apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going in the sun and every 2 hours thereafter.

Find a shady spot

When setting up for the day, choose a spot that has shade. Be mindful that the shadiness may vary throughout the day. It’s wise to bring a sun umbrella to offer coverage for your family when you’re not playing in the water. This can also help your child cool down if they begin to overheat.

Dress appropriately

While it’s intuitive to wear less clothing in hot weather, it’s better to keep as much skin covered as possible. Have your child wear sunglasses and a hat whenever possible to minimize the sunburn risk.

Additionally, pick up a swimsuit for your toddler that is long-sleeved and/or covers a portion of their leg. Swimsuit fabric is often light, and your tot will be in and out of the water, so they’re not likely to overheat because of the extra fabric.

Find Age-Appropriate Rides

If you’re going to a large water park with rides and slides, a 2-year-old isn’t old enough to enjoy most of the activities. Before settingtling on a water park, do research to ensure there are safe areas for young kids to play. Some water parks will offer a splash pad or a children’s pool that’s appropriate for kids of all ages, particularly babies and toddlers.

If you’re going to a small, public water park – the kind with sprinklers and splash shoots – then the entire area may be all-ages. But for young kids, they’re going to need constant supervision and hands-on help, especially if the sprinklers are too high for them to reach all alone.

Most water parks will have rules posted somewhere. Try to identify the guidelines, if any, once you arrive at the park, and explain any relevant ones to your toddler in age-appropriate terms.

If you’re going to be at a big water park with staff, don’t hesitate to call the establishment before time. Inquire into whether your child’s age will be an issue and ask what sorts of activities they have that are suitable for toddlers. By calling ahead, the park may even be able to give you special accommodation since you’re visiting with a young child.

Keep Hydrated & Fed

It’s easier to become dehydrated when outdoors and doing something physical. If your young child isn’t staying hydrated, they can risk becoming dehydrated. The signs of dehydration in kids can include:

  • Sunken eyes
  • Dry tongue lips
  • Sunken spot on head
  • No tears when drying
  • Heavy, fast-paced breathing
  • Cool, blotchy hands and/or feet

Cleveland Clinic warns you should seek medical help if your child has the aforementioned signs in addition to vomiting, diarrhea, or lethargy.

Generally, children need 8 to 10 ounces of water every few hours when playing outside. Make sure to always have water on hand for your toddler at the water park and take breaks from playing to make sure they’re drinking enough water.

Additionally, it’s important to make sure your toddler is eating enough. If your toddler becomes hungry, this can cause them to:

  • Be clumsy
  • Feel tired
  • Be anxious
  • Act fussy, irritable
  • Start demanding food

Make sure to have enough food on hand to last your whole family at the park. Use a cooler to store perishable items and be conscious of how long the ice and food will last when in sunlight. For an extra boost of hydration, choose water-rich foods, like fruits.

Never Let Your Child Out Of Sight

Finally, it cannot be said enough that you should never let a young child out of your sight at a water park. As they enter the double digits, you may be fine with your child going off to do their own thing at the park. But young kids, especially toddlers, need constant supervision.

For one, there’s the basic risk of stranger danger. The water park is a public venue. It’ll be even less supervised if it’s the type of local water park that’s free. Don’t assume that because there are a lot of parents and kids around that it’s completely safe for your child. Use your intuition and be mindful of where your toddler is at all times.

Then there’s also the safety issue. There are a lot of ways kids can get hurt at water parks. Most toddlers don’t know how to swim, so if there’s a pool you need to have a hand on them. Consider bringing a flotation device (like wings or a life jacket) for an added layer of safety. But with so much fun and chaos, it’s also possible for your toddler to trip or bump into something, causing injury. The more supervision you give, the less likely injury is to occur.

For more information on how to keep young kids safe at the water park, we encourage you to contact the water park you want to visit directly.

Sources: Cleveland Clinic, Romper, Safe Wise, Healthy Children, Red Cross,

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