Mardi Gras is a special time of year for Louisianians. Whether you love the parades, are a king cake fanatic, or just enjoy the extra days off work and school, Carnival season has something to offer everyone.
For parents, Mardi Gras can bring up some additional obstacles to address. Grant Clinkingbeard, MD, pediatrician with Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Health in Covington, shares some tips for a fun and safe experience if you’re planning to bring your children to the parades.
For Younger Children
1. The Ratio: Try to make sure you have at least one adult per young child in your group. Grown-ups can help keep an eye on children to make sure they stay close by. Adults can also help block a large throw or bag of beads from hitting your little one. Supervising two or three kids at a parade by yourself can be overwhelming, so if you’re going to bring a krewe of kids, ask family or friends for help!
2. Bright Colored Clothing: Dress your child in something distinctive. Keep in mind there will be many people dressed in bright colors with light-up toys and beads, so be creative.
3. Remember the Stroller: When heading to the parades, expect to do some walking. Good parking spots are often hard to come by, and you may be trekking for a while before you reach the route. Carrying a toddler all this way can be exhausting, so bring a stroller and push them. Make sure little ones are buckled in to keep them from falling or climbing out when you’re in the crowd.
A good stroller can also hold lots of stuffed animals, beads and light-up toys (this may be an advantage or a disadvantage for parents, however!). When your little one gets too tired to stand, they can sit or even take a nap in their stroller — without any of your catches. Infants sleep most safely with nothing else around them, whether in a crib or stroller.
4. Should They Eat That? From plungers to coconuts, you can catch anything at a parade. Candy, snack cakes and other foods are common throws that may make their way to your child’s hands. While some throws are safe to eat, not all are. Do your best to keep a close eye on what’s going in your child’s mouth while on the route.
5. Are Ladder-Top Seats Safe? If you’ve been to a parade, you know what I’m talking about. A plastic or wooden bench is attached to the top of a stepladder as a seat for a toddler or child. While we can’t give a definitive answer whether these are safe for your child, there are some things that should be considered.
While sitting atop a ladder may prevent a toddler from being stepped on, it also increases their risk of having a serious fall. Being up high may improve their view, but it will also increase the chance of being hit hard with a throw.
If you are going to use a ladder-top seat, be sure it is firmly affixed to the ladder, that the child is strapped in, and that there is an adult making sure the ladder is always stable.
For Older Children and Adolescents:
6. Have an Intentional Conversation Before Heading to the Parade. Talk to your older kids about the dangers of the parade route. Some topics you may discuss include:
- Not wandering off. It can be very easy to get lost in a large crowd.
- Staying a safe distance from floats. People have been run over during parades, and everyone should keep back from moving and stationary floats.
- Not accepting foods/drinks from strangers.