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My neighbor has a 1 year old toddler who always tries to take their soda can to play with. They're not concerned about the mess if it isn't empty but they're concerned the toddler will hurt themself.

They think the toddler might be interested in the tab or interested in the crackling sound. Do you have any suggestions? I was thinking about suggesting aluminum foil next time I come across them but I didn't really think it out.

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    When we first moved into our previous house, our neighbors invited us to a pool party. My oldest was 7 and my 2nd child (I had only 2 then) was 14 months. The baby, while sitting on my lap, stuck his finger in a beer can that was on a table next to us. He pulled it out and it sliced his finger almost to the bone. It bled like crazy. He didn’t cry tho bc it was so sharp it didn’t even hurt at first. Meanwhile my oldest pooped in the pool. So, here’s one kid bleeding all over and another fouling the water...needless to say we weren’t invited back. KEEP KIDS AWAY FROM CANS.
    – Jax
    Dec 29 '20 at 19:15
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It's fairly common for people to allow children to play with (mostly) empty soda cans, though it's certainly not entirely safe - if the tab is too loose it could be swallowed, and there are sharp edges.

The issue here is that not only is the soda can fun to manipulate, it's also interesting because Mommy or Daddy find it interesting (obviously, since they have it in their hands a lot!). So simply replacing the sound/color/etc. isn't going to cut it - you have to get them to be okay with a replacement that distracts them from that.

I would usually try, when possible, to replace first with an equivalent item - in this case, a drinking cup of their own. If you use sippy cups, that would be the thing to use; we didn't, and so we'd give them small metal cups with small amounts of water in them in cases like this. This helps the toddler learn what role the can plays, and what the child-appropriate version of it is.

We'd also let them examine the item - in our control. This helps satisfy the curiosity. Don't let go of the can, just show them what you do with it, and let them touch it in safe ways. This would go for many items the toddler might be interested in - wine glass, steak knife (obviously even more carefully), whatever the toddler can experience tactilely without danger, but cannot hold by themselves without too much danger.

I would not, however, give her a soda can of water or similar, unless that's going to be something you keep around constantly (perhaps if it's La Croix or similar?). She'll start expecting to get sips going forward, which won't always be available.

On a separate note, I would probably avoid kitchen foil (as it tends to risk being eaten), but baby-intended foil is a great toy at that age, and is easily available in a safe form factor. Toddlers love to crinkle it and see the reflections and hear the noise and feel the bumps!

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  • A metal cup like this? images.homedepot-static.com/productImages/… I couldn't find any baby foil. I saw a blanket but reviews say it's thin and tears. Everything else was a colored balloon or shaped so it wouldn't crinkle. I'll suggest the cup and holding the soda can next time I see them Dec 29 '20 at 6:23
  • That might work, we used espresso cups for the most part as they happened to be the right size. Just make sure it's unlikely to have lead (so, is something intended for drinking!)
    – Joe
    Dec 29 '20 at 6:25
  • As for foil - it won't look very much like foil usually, but use the keyword "crinkle". Usually you'll find it's layers of cloth with foil or similar inside (cloth to keep baby safe!)
    – Joe
    Dec 29 '20 at 6:26
  • Espresso cups? Those can break right? Maybe I'll suggest that but I feel like all babies will throw small things Dec 29 '20 at 6:27
  • @EricStotch Stainless steel espresso cups won't usually break :) Not the ceramic kind, of course. In any event, the point is to offer the toddler whatever cup they already use - not to suggest a different one :)
    – Joe
    Dec 29 '20 at 6:28
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Crush and dispose of it immediately. Cans are moderately dangerous, especially if they pull the tab off. Mine did that, and put them in their mouth several times. The best way for us has been to put the tab in the can, crush it, and put it in the can. If they get it at that point, they can't get their fingers into it, and the tab is already removed.

Metal cups are very attractive to our 18 MO boys, though they like to turn them upside down and scrape the rim across flat surfaces, making a horrible grating sound. They love it.

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