I took my toddler and 4-month-old for a walk in the first beautifully warm sunny day of Spring this past Sunday. It's the first time I've let my toddler walk and not be in a stroller and as we did it I thought of several things that need to be considered before doing this. Here is the list I came up with:
Always have your toddler walk next to you on the side furthest away from the curb and/or road.
Survey the path ahead to make sure there is not mud, soft ground, or missing ground. If possible scope out the area first so you know if there are dangers like cliffs or ungated water areas.
Always hold your toddler's hand while walking up and down paved hills.
Effectively teach basic communication that your toddler will understand such as "stop, put that down, leave it there, stand by me, slow down, out of the road, get on the sidewalk etc".
Don't, and I repeat, DON'T let your child run their hands against wood fences. Their hands could get splinter or they could lose their step and tumble. See below...
When I brought my son to a park a few weeks ago, we were walking to the car and he tried to run his hands along the fence but missed and he hit his head on the jagged edge of the path. It was the worst sound in the WORLD to hear. I had already been reaching for him when I first saw him reach for the fence so I was right there to pick him up, alas it didn't help calm him down at all. He screamed so loud and I had to carry him while pushing my daughter's stroller the rest of the way to the car.
You might also be interested in reading the following:
My Toddler Can Reach The Counter
My Toddler Fell On A Cement Stair