As parents of active babies or toddler, you’ll definitely have wondered, “My child keeps wandering off without a second thought. Is there anything I can do to keep him safe?” This is exactly what the parents of a 22-month-old baby must have thought recently, when she decided to toddle off into a dangerous forest all by herself.
Baby Girl Lost in Forest for Four Days
The 22-month-old Chinese toddler, nicknamed, Xiaojiao, was playing with her four- and six-year-old siblings close to a village called Shuikou, before wandering off.
Her dad, Chen Qingran, notified other family members to keep their eyes peeled for the missing toddler when she didn’t come back home for dinner. However, he only told the police of the missing toddler in the afternoon the next day.
Huang Jianfeng, the director of the local police station remarked that the 24-hour delay in reporting the wandering toddler resulted in missing the “best search time.”
“That not only increases the difficulty of the search, but the possibility for accidents,” he added.
In response to this alert, 700 people (from police officers to villagers) accompanied with drones and rescue dogs, began to look for the baby girl.
Three days passed as the volunteers scouted the hills and thick forest.
People moved through fish ponds, paddled in rivers and swept through the thick woods and large hills around the village. Investigators even reviewed footage from patrol cameras and interrogated people driving suspicious vehicles in the region.
However, their search efforts, which often continued past sunset, led to no avail.
Rainy Weather, Anxiety and a Miracle
What was more worrying was that the disappearance occurred during the monsoon season. Additional rain could lead to man-made water bodies overflowing and could make the hills slippery, which made hazards like drowning or tumbling more likely.
Yet, a miracle happened about four days after baby Xiaojiao wandered off. As Friday morning rolled by, a villager heard unusual sounds from bushes which were above a canal with a steep slope leading upwards.
When the villager told the police, they found Xiaojiao in the bushes, her body grazed with cuts and insect bites – but still breathing.
She was immediately hurried to a health clinic and then into a hospital where she received treatment for dehydration and her injuries.
Thankfully, the 22-month old is stable, with a police official calling her survival a “miracle”.
“My Child Keeps Wandering Off. What Can I Do About It?”
The fact that this little fighter was able to survive in the wild is in itself miraculous.
However, we cannot count on luck as most toddlers lack the knowledge to survive in this world and should always be accompanied by an adult. Here are some child safety facts to keep in mind before bringing your little tot outdoors:
- Always monitor your toddler. Never leave them unsupervised, even if they have a child leash on. They could get lost, or encounter strangers.
- Don’t bring your toddler outdoors alone. Have at least one other trustworthy adult by your side to watch over your little toddler. If you have older siblings, ask them to keep an eye out for their juniors.
- Consider using a child leash, if necessary. Remember, though:
- Child leashes should not be used to guide or lead. Don’t tug on them as though your children are dogs. These leashes are only meant to keep your child from wandering off alone.
- Cultivate good habits so that your child knows to stay within line of sight. Don’t depend on a child leash to keep him safe.
- Only put the child leash on if your child agrees to do so. If you are concerned that they might get lost, make sure that they know how to behave safely and appropriately.
Other Creative Methods
- Install baby-proof items like door knobs or apply some outdoor fencing to surround your home. Again, use baby proof-locks to prevent your little tot from wandering beyond the fence.
- Teach your toddler to never leave your side. Especially if they can understand rules. Always hold their hands and repeat the rules every day. Eventually they should be the ones telling you the rules.
- Get a dog and play hide and seek so that your child’s scent can be tracked.
- If they are still very young, use a GPS tracker. That way you’ll know your toddler’s real-time position no matter where he is.