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Playing Safely at NYC Playgrounds during COVID

With playgrounds reopened in NYC, cooped up families are tempted to head back to parks and outdoor play areas with their children. Going back into the world can be a bit nerve-wracking if your personal risk tolerance has been on the strict side throughout the past few months. And since you can’t know if someone else’s hygiene habits align with yours, keep these safety tips in mind if you do decide to head out to NYC playgrounds again soon:

Come Prepared

According to the CDC, hand sanitizer doesn’t work on especially dirty or greasy hands, so it’s best to clean them with water first and then apply hand-sanitizer. Your playground pack-list should include hygienic items like face masks, a kid’s water bottle that can close securely, extra water for hand washing before sanitizing, hand sanitizer, and wet wipes just in case. Instead of sunglasses, consider a hat with a brim or a cap to shield sensitive eyes from the sun without encouraging unnecessary face-touching. And don’t forget to apply sunscreen at home!

Eat Before You Go

If you can, eat or snack at home rather than bringing food and snacks with you. It helps keep face touching and accidental contamination at bay. Of course, we’d never recommend being completely unprepared, so keep a fruit pouch with a spout on hand if one of your kiddos is heading towards a hangry meltdown.

Discuss Your Plan B

Try to visit playgrounds during lower traffic times, perhaps early in the morning or after an early dinner when other families are likely to be home. Have an alternate plan and talk about it in advance with your child. If you show up and it’s too crowded or feels unsafe, opt for a scooter/bike ride or bring along some books, toys, and a picnic blanket. Managing your child’s expectations in advance should help if things go sideways at the playground. 

Follow Strict Infection-Control Protocols

Don’t get so worried about kid contamination that you lose sight of your own precautions. In a New York Times article, Dr. Sean O’Leary, M.D., the vice chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Infectious Diseases, reminds readers that adults spread the virus more readily than children do and that supervising adults should be careful and stay distanced from other adults. That means face masks, clean hands, and increased distance from other caregivers or parents while watching kids at play. He also mentions that masks can be counter-productive for younger children if they don’t fit well, which could lead to excessive face-touching and adjustments. 

Families and their nannies should discuss the risks and rewards of visiting playgrounds together and make a plan that feels good for everyone. If you’ve got thoughts about visiting NYC playgrounds, tag SmartSitting in Facebook and Instagram posts and let us know. Want to hear more about our tips and insights into navigating NYC childcare? Make sure you sign up for our newsletter for all the latest info coming from our team! 

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