Taking precautions to childproof your home before children arrive is a smart move that will save you a lot of headaches and worry. I’ve organized the suggestions below starting with things you can do to cover your entire home. The rest of the article will go over baby proofing ideas that pertain to specific areas or individual rooms.
It would be a good idea to update the safety measures if you catch your child circumventing them (which will happen). Always keep in mind that nothing can beat adult supervision and teaching your child what they can and can't do.
Childproof Your Home - An Overall Point of View
• Child Safety Gates: Always use these gates at both the top and bottom of stairs. Those that require you to use screws to secure to the wall are generally safer than those that use pressure. Any openings should be small enough where the child can’t squeeze their head into them (2-3 inches max is a good measure). Make sure that any releases are placed away from curious hands. You can also use them to keep children out of certain rooms that may be especially dangerous for them.
• Cover Electrical Outlets: Use outlet protectors that are hard for kids to pull out. Outlets that are near a water source should be updated with circuit interrupters that will turn off the power if something falls into the water. These inexpensive and useful items really help childproof your home as well as adding protection for pets.
• Baby Choking Hazards: Anything that the child can potentially fit around their neck or into their mouths should be carefully looked at and put out of reach if possible. Examples include window blind cords, kitchen magnets and plastic that can be easily torn off and swallowed.
• Fire Alarms: Make sure all smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms are working properly. These are a must for child safety and protection of the entire family.
• Tripping Hazards: This one really speaks for itself but is a very important aspect when trying to keep your child out of harm's way. It’s also a constant chore to pick up such things. When the child gets big enough it is a good idea to teach them to always put away toys.
• Heat Sources: Access to areas that will burn a child such as hearths, wood stoves, space heaters, etc. should be a top priority. Safety gates and proper placement can go a long way, as well as a little teaching.
• Phone: Always use a cordless phone in the house when children are present so you are not confined to one certain area. Just carry it around with you and you will always be able to keep an eye on the kids.
• Secure Firearms: Make sure any weapons are locked away and kept separate from ammunition. You can still work out a system to defend your home by having ammo ready to be quickly loaded. Teaching your child about gun safety when they reach a proper age is also useful.
• Doorknob Covers, Child Safety Locks and Alarms: Of all the child safety products available these are perhaps the easiest to keep toddlers out of certain rooms. Covers should be used to keep children from opening doors but also need to be easy for adults to use. Any locks need to be well out of the child’s reach. Alarms can be useful for doorways to swimming pools or similar areas.
• Sharp Objects: Objects such as pencils, pens, razors, scissors, and keys need to be out of reach.
• Poisonous Materials: Use Mr. Yuk stickers from poison control centers to put on bottles and containers. They can often be gotten for free, but a certain amount of teaching is required for them to be successful. Always try to store these materials where children can’t get to them.
• Edge and Corner Guards: Put these bumpers on all furniture with any sharp edges. They can also be used for hearths.
• Pets: If you have pets such as dogs or cats you need to make a separate area to keep them confined until they get use to your child. Be warned that some species of cats and dogs just won’t ever get along well with children.
• Windows and Balconies: Most screens are not strong enough to keep kids from falling out a window so don’t depend on them for that. Keep items away from windows that will allow a child to climb up to one. They do make window guards to help with childproofing, but make sure any openings are too small for them to get their head stuck (2-3 inches max is a good measure). These should also be easy to open for older kids in case of a fire.
• Breakables/Collectibles: Make sure that items such as these are well out of reach as most children are drawn to them. This includes table lamps.
• Tipping Furniture: Use wall brackets to secure bookshelves, TV’s, heavy furniture, etc. to walls. Always put heavier items on or near the bottom to prevent it from being top heavy. This is a good tip for any kind of chest or shelving and should always be the first thing that comes to mind when figuring out ways to childproof your home.
• Phone Numbers: Important phone numbers need to be placed next to all phones and be large enough to be easily read. (Poison Control, pediatrician, etc.)
• Securing Drawers: Use child safety latches on drawers, cupboards, cabinets, chests and airtight containers such as refrigerators or coolers.
Childproofing The Nursery
• Toy box lids should not be able to fall onto child. Make sure you can secure them or use one with a sliding lid or no lid at all.
• Baby monitors are a good way to get things done while Junior sleeps. Many models now have Night Vision and breathing sensors built-in at very affordable prices.
• Do not place cribs, playpens, etc. near sources of heat, windows, wall hangings or other hazards. Make sure openings are too small for child’s head to get through (3.5 inches maximum opening).
Child Safety In The Bathroom
• Low door locks should be removed or well out of reach to prevent a child from accidentally locking themselves in the bathroom.
• Faucets and shower heads should have anti-scalding devices on them to prevent burns. Be sure to set the thermostat on your water heater to 120 degrees. Nobody really needs water to be hotter than that anyway and you will save money on your electricity bill.
• Toilet locks can be used to make sure the toilet lid stays closed.
• Nonslip stickers in the bathtub and nonskid rugs on the floor will help prevent a lot of accidental falls.
Bedrooms - Keep Baby Safe When Sleeping With Them
• Children safety rails should always be used if they are sleeping in a regular bed even if an adult is present.
Baby Proofing The Kitchen
• Use the back burners of a stove when cooking and make sure to turn the handles of any pots and pans towards the back.
• Keep any appliances/dangling cords, knives, etc. away from the edge of counters.
• Use tablecloths with caution as they can be pulled down quite easily along with anything sitting on top of them.
• Could be a good idea to have a safe area for children to stay in while anyone is cooking.
Baby Safety In The Living Room
• Recliner chairs should be kept closed when crawling babies are around.
• Any area rugs should be slip proof or have nonslip pads on them.
Childproofing The Home - Outside Play Areas
• Garage doors should have a feature on them where they will automatically reverse if there is an obstruction.
• Always take lids off of old refrigerators, freezers, etc.
• Make sure you walk around your home and take care of any natural threats such as poison ivy or hornets nests. This is an often overlooked area when coming up with ways to childproof your home.
• Be mindful of drowning pitfalls such as puddles and kiddie pools. Children can drown in as little as 2 inches of water.
• Lawns should be cut regularly which will cut down on ticks, weeds and fleas.
• Large glass sliding doors should have stickers on them to keep baby from running into them.
• Look over any outdoor play structures on a regular basis. Things such as exposed screws, splintering of wood, rust, easily removed bolt covers and sharp edges can spell bad news for children.
• Fencing with a locking gate should be installed around swimming pools, barbecue grills, etc.
The question of how to childproof your home for a newborn, visiting toddlers or those children that are just a little older can be scary to think about, but only if you wait until the last minute. Give yourself a little time to get everything right; you'll be glad you did. You can never be too cautious when it comes to childproofing your home.
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