Babyproofing Your Home
Between 2 million and 3 million children are either seriously injured or killed each year as a result of home-related accidents. The ensuing loss and guilt parents feel is greatly exacerbated by the knowledge which comes too late: that these accidents would have been avoided had they taken a series of easy steps to babyproof their homes.
Ideally, all of these measures should be taken before the little one arrives home. If you’re sitting at home on a Saturday afternoon and considering whether to go shopping for irresistible infant clothes or babyproofing the house — which, let’s face it, isn’t half as fun and won’t cause “aawwww”s — remind yourselves that the Baby Gap shopping spree can wait, even until after the baby arrives. It’s your obligation as a parent to make your home as safe as possible for your infant.
Every child-safety expert will tell you that in order to get an idea of what to babyproof in your home, you’ve got to crawl around on all fours for a while and determine what can be grabbed and pulled down, climbed on, bitten or ingested. That’s a smart idea to be sure, but it’s even more effective if more than person performs it. Get your spouse in on it, too. When your knees have worn out, you may also walk around your home to determine if there’s anything you’ve missed. Take notes as you locate dangers throughout your home.
For maximum preparation and peace of mind, you might consider hiring a professional babyproofer to analyze your home environment for potential hazards. The following list of babyproofing measures, however, will give you an excellent start toward creating a safe environment for your infant — who, by the way, won’t remain an infant for long:
- Place baby gates in front of all staircases.
- If you routinely toss your spare change on the front-hall table, find a container with a securely fastened lid, and use it to store all of your spare change. This is not only safer for your child; it helps you locate your change in a hurry.
- Tie up the cords on all mini-blinds, vertical blinds, drapes and other window coverings. And tie them up as high as possible. In addition, many mini-blind manufacturers are selling safety tassels to prevent children from becoming entangled in cords and strangling. Call your local window-treatment retailer to find out where you can purchase safety tassels.
- Call a professional to securely mount your bookshelves to the wall. You may think your bookshelves are too heavy and stable to tip over, but think again. Each year, thousands of determined children grab shelves and tip them over — often with disastrous results. It practically goes without saying, but never place a bookshelf free-standing style in your home. It should always be placed against a wall and securely fastened.
- Make sure all cabinets — not just the ones at floor level — are equipped with safety latches. Round up all of your household cleaning products, and store them up high in a cabinet equipped with a safety latch (it never hurts to be too careful).
- Concerned that once your baby begins walking, he’ll enter a room particularly prone to disasters (for example, your hobby room or sewing room)? Sometimes even the most diligent babyproofer can have difficulty eliminating every hazard in a room such as this. Easy solution: Have a lock installed on the door and keep the door locked at all times, allowing only yourself and your spouse to have access.
- Purchase outlet plates and covers to prevent children from inserting paper clips, fingers and other objects inside electric sockets.
- Head to your local hardware store, and buy scald-prevention devices for your bathtubs and all faucets.
- If you’ve got matches sitting beside your fireplace, remove them and store them up high — in a container on top of your refrigerator, for example.
Remove all plants that sit on the floor, as well as plants that can be grabbed and toppled over. Place them up high.
- Purchase a couple of carbon monoxide detectors for your home.
- Ask your local hardware store about door holders, which prevent young children from getting their fingers caught.
- If your home has a radiator, purchase a screen or cover which prevents your child from suffering burns.
- Purchase a cordless phone and “walkie-talkies,” enabling you to keep your eyes and ears on all activity.
A child is more apt to remember your teachings if you approach safety in the same way you did before they were born: room by room, carefully considering each potential hazard. Point out to your children the dangers in your home and what to do if they spot something they suspect could be hazardous. Going beyond verbal instructions and showing through your example will drive the point home far more effectively.