Tips for Childproofing
If you have ever raised, babysat or even seen a child, you probably know that the idea of having a completely childproofed home is an out-of-reach ideal. However, there are many things you can do to make your home as safe as possible for your young one.
Get on Their Level
Literally. Crawl, roll, kneel, whatever it takes to see the world from your child's point of view. Then, look around at all of the exciting things there are for you to touch, pull and climb. What is between the cushions? Sticking out of the bottom of a chair? Hanging over the edge of the oven?
Put Your Home on Lockdown
Lock up everything from cabinets, to toilet seats, to doors. Chemicals, medications and sharp objects are all potentially harmful to a curious child who doesn't know how to use them. The best way to curb your child’s curiosity is to keep these dangerous objects out of sight and out of reach.
Be Sure Your Products are Childproof, not Adultproof
A lock that's nearly impossible to open is great, but only if it gets re-locked every time. If products are too inconvenient for the older members of the house, the likelihood of them being reset decreases – no matter how many reminders you give. Emphasize the importance of utilizing safety devices to older siblings, but keep ease-of-use in mind when selecting products. Extremely complicated products can also be a hazard in the case of an emergency. For example, you don't want a safety gate that only one member of the family can operate because if that person is gone in the case of a fire, the rest of the family may be in danger.
Young children have a way of tearing down just about everything in sight, so make sure that the latest target doesn't fall down and injure them. Flat screen TVs are great for saving space, but because of weight distribution, they are much easier to tip over than older television sets. To prevent accidents like this, mount your flat screen on the wall or invest in a set of TV straps. Anchor furniture over 30 inches tall to the wall, and ensure that the cords for your electronics are out of reach. If you can't hide a cord completely, fasten it to the floor or wall. When securing cords, furniture or decorations, make sure the anchoring devices you are using are firmly attached to the walls, and that if the anchor falls, it can't be swallowed by your child. A good test is to use an old toilet paper roll – if the object slides easily through, then a child can easily swallow it.
As they say, two heads are better than one. One person cannot possibly think of all the potential dangers the average home has to offer, but if you search the Internet, you will find input from thousands of parents, baby publications and safety councils. Don't discount the opinions of peers and parents, but keep in mind that changing technology means changing childproofing standards. Back in the day, it was difficult for a child to bring down a TV, but now flat screens make for easy tipping. Research can also introduce you to great products, or point out innovations that aren't so great. Read reviews, visit consumer protection websites and sign up for product recalls to stay up-to-date on what does and doesn't work.
There's no such thing as too much knowledge, so here are some great places to start learning about how to prepare for your newest addition:
Childproofing your home can be overwhelming, but keep in mind that you don't have to go through the process alone. Talk to your doctor if you are nervous or, if you want to take it a step further, hire a consultant whose job is to walk around homes looking for potential baby dangers.
The most important thing is to be aware of your child at all times. You will not catch every potential danger, and you
will experience some minor accidents here and there. No home is perfectly childproof, but as a parent that cares, you are making yours about as close to perfect as it can get.
Babyproofing Your Home
Heather L. Zimmerman, M.D.
Boys Town Pediatrics
Babyproofing is so important because unintentional injuries are a very common cause for emergency room visits and serious injuries to children.
We try to remind parents early on. The most important things for babyproofing are sleeping in a safe manner, avoiding cigarette smoke exposure, and avoiding falls.
Even though babies, typically, don't roll until three to five months old, a lot of newborn and two-week old babies can roll. You can never leave them alone on a changing table, couch, bed, for even a second or you'll have the baby that rolls.
When do parents need to increase their babyproofing?
As soon as we're seeing early motor development and signs of mobility, which start at four to six months with rolling and starting to be able to in upright seating positions for play, things like that. We have to start to think about how much their environment is expanding and all the new dangers to them.
Early on it's thinking about your floor play. If your baby is able to roll over a few times then he or she might lift their head up and hit their head on a sharp corner if you have a low end table or something like that. So we're talking about using foam cushions to cover the edges of tables and ottomans that would have sharp edges like that.
The next thing is, four to six month olds like to reach out and grab everything. We want to think about, anywhere something is hanging off something higher that a baby would grab and pull things down.
I think the musts by six months are outlet covers, foam corners on end tables and things like that, and by nine months and probably earlier, gates on any stairways.
Most babies are crawling by nine months and that's when they can get in a lot of trouble.
By 15 months, they are really inventive climbers. They can figure out how to bring something over and use it like a stool to get up on another level. So you need to take that level of child proofing up to your shoulder level.
What danger is most often overlooked by parents?
A lot of people don't take the time to think about safe storage of household cleaning items, personal hygiene items, and medications.
I know in our own home we always kept the cleaning stuff below the kitchen sink and I didn't really think about it until my son was that age where he loved to open doors and cabinets. I realized, oh, we need one of those cabinet locks on this to keep it safe.
Storing that stuff safely either locking it up or getting it up high where they can't reach is really important.