When you were still single, it doesn’t matter if you have the most fragile knickknacks or the most expensive collection of china or vases in your home. They’re not in danger of being knocked over by eager little hands, especially if you only have adults come over. But once your living space gets invaded by an adorably tiny baby or a curious, always-moving toddler, you cannot leave breakables around the house anymore.
You also can’t leave electrical outlets open or exposed, there should be no objects within reach that can easily be toppled over, and there are plenty of everyday things which, when left unattended and near a baby, can prove to be hazardous for the child. This is precisely the reason why it pays to babyproof your home.
Fortunately for parents, babyproofing a house does not have to be costly. There are easy, practical ways for you to make sure that your home is safe for kids without having to spend too much. Child experts say that the biggest thing to watch out for is falls. Babies or toddlers may naturally topple over even if you take your eyes off them for just one second. These are fairly common and are not dangerous especially for kids who are just learning to walk.
But long plunges from the baby changing table for infants, or falls from stairs for toddlers are particularly worrying. These accidents account for nearly 50% of the numbers of parents taking their kids to emergency rooms. This means that the first babyproofing task that you need to finish at home is to make sure that the changing table is safe – and keep your eyes on your kid at all times if the table is high. For stairs, there should be a safety gate at the top and the bottom of the stairs which is suitable for the height of your child.
Other general babyproofing steps include making sure that no furniture can topple over in case your kid uses it to pull himself or herself up. Keeping the cleaning supplies, medicinal supplies and other possibly poisonous items out of reach is also a good idea. Finally, plastic outlet covers especially for outlets located on the lower parts of the wall are a must.
If you think that a plastic outlet cover can still become a choking hazard, use the safer sliding models. Once such basics are covered, parents can decide for themselves how far they would like to go on babyproofing the rest of the house.
From One Room to the Next: Babyproofing Your Entire House
Babyproofing your entire house may seem like a daunting task, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. To give you an idea about how you can keep your house child-friendly, here’s a room-by-room guide:
- First time parents might get too excited when buying stuff for the nursery but when going out to shop for things to place in the room, safety should be your number one priority. When buying cribs, for example, do not buy a drop-side model. The slats should also be at least 2 3/8 inches apart.
- Stuffed animals, bumpers, pillows and matching blankets might make the crib look oh-so-cute – but having too much of them inside the crib might actually suffocate your child. Get rid of these or don’t even buy them in the first place.
- If you have one of those musical toys which hang over the crib, remove them a soon as your kid can pull herself or himself upright.
- You should definitely have a baby monitor but if you happen to purchase a model with cords, keep them tightly wound and away from the crib. Otherwise, a cordless monitor is better.
- Choose a toy storage without a cover so that there is no chance of the material slamming into the baby’s fingers. If you can, do not choose wicker as material because those tiny shards of wood can also be a choking hazard.
- If you have a toddler and a pet in the house, your child will definitely think that pet kibble is human food. Stand by as your pet eats and as soon as it’s done, remove the bowl so your kid would not have a chance at grabbing whatever’s left in it.
- If you have a child who’s tall enough to reach the knobs on the kitchen stove, use an appliance lock so it will not accidentally get turned. Pot handles and stove guards are other useful things to use for safety when you’re cooking with a child around.
- Make sure that your fire extinguisher in the kitchen is placed high on a pantry shelf or in a childproof cabinet.
- If you have cabinets under the sink, these will unfortunately easily get reached by curious little hands – so never store cleaning products inside. If there’s no other place for you to store them, make sure that they are locked shut.
- If you have blinds installed in the living room, keep them safe for the baby by using cordless shades or cord cleats.
- If you have a coffee table, a stand for your entertainment set or anything low-lying with sharp edges, your kid can easily hurt his or her eyes or head in it. Use bumpers to cushions the edges.
- Get rid of knickknacks or breakable knickknacks which tie the look of a room together. When you have a kid, you should be more concerned about safety than interior decorating, so see to it that nothing is within reach of your child that can be toppled over.
- If you have indoor plants, keep them out of reach of your child or better yet, move them outside.
- If you have a fireplace, use a guard door to protect kids from ceramic tiles, the fire itself when it’s lit, or the sharp corners.
- Purchase non-slip mats in and out of the tub. This will keep your baby – and you – safe even when water is splattered everywhere.
- Before placing your baby inside the tub during bath time, make sure that the water has just-the-right temperature. 120 degrees should be suitable.
- Installing a toilet lock is also a great idea to prevent those little fingers from getting smashed.
- If you have a very small space inside the bathroom and you cannot keep the medicine cabinet high up the wall, simply lock it so your child can’t get into anything poisonous inside.
- Use a cover for the tub spout while bathing your baby.
Additional Tips for Babyproofing Your Home
According to the US Centers for Disease Control Prevention, about 2.3 million kids get accidentally injured every year. Most of these accidents are a result of carelessness and the house not being safe for the child, so it definitely pays to exert the extra effort in making sure that your home is babyproof.
When deciding which steps to take to babyproof your home, get down on your hands and knees. This will give you a better view of how the world looks from the eyes of your baby. Which items can be easily reached? Which things or furniture pieces can be held onto while crawling or walking? Growing kids are mightily curious and they will touch almost anything that’s within their reach – so this will give you an idea about which cupboards to lock or drawers to close.
Once your son or daughter grows taller, do a re-evaluation and see if things are still safe. No matter what the age of your kid, there should be no small things lying on the floor which can be a choking hazard. This includes marbles, coins, paper clips, beads, etc. A vacuum cleaning session can help get rid of such small objects which you might not easily notice.
Another worrying statistic from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission is that in 2006, more than 16,000 kids under the age of five went to the emergency room. The injuries sustained were from TV sets, bookcases and other heavy furniture toppling over them. Once your son starts learning how to walk, he will use any solid object as a support to pull himself up.
If he holds onto a bookcase which is not that solid, it can easily tip over. The best way to prevent such accidents from happening is to put the heavier items on the bottom shelves to make them less heavy on the top, and eliminate the chances of it tipping over. For other furniture pieces, it is better to have them bolted on the wall. TV sets should be placed on a solid, out-of-reach entertainment center or simply mounted onto the wall.
Replace floor lamps with desk lamps which are out of reach. Dresser drawers should be kept closed at all times. Update the gates on your stairs as soon as your child is able to reach it to prevent falling accidents. Windows and doors should also be secured. If you have a low window, they should not be open more than four inches. Install window stops or window guards, as well as doorstops.
By following these tips, you can babyproof your home. In the end, close supervision is still needed if you would like to make sure that your child is safe from physical harm while inside your home.