Eager parents across the world with best of intentions begin thinking about making a home childproof almost as soon as they find out they are pregnant. You can chalk this obsession up to the natural desire to keep our children safe. However, far too many take this intuition over the top and make childproofing much more of a hassle than it really needs to be.
First of all, during infancy, there is little childproofing that will come into play. In fact, the most essential part of keeping your baby safe is remaining vigilant, learning infant CPR, having a fantastic baby monitor, and following some simple and concise sleep rules. Make sure that baby is always put to sleep on their back and that the crib is void of pillows and other fluffy decorations or heavy blankets that can cause suffocation. Check them often and never allow them to sleep on their bellies.
Soon enough as mobility ensues you will see that even the best baby or childproofing methods aren’t foolproof. You will need to constantly supervise. The first course of action is to cover all electrical outlets in your home and make sure that your water heater is set down to 120 degrees to avoid accidental scald injuries. Use all the harness straps that come with your bouncy seats, high chairs and always use a car seat (rear facing) when baby is in the car.
Eventually, the kitchen, bathroom and bedrooms will need to be childproofed as well. Things can get tricky when your baby is crawling and pulling up and often the most uninteresting items to adults are what peak a baby’s interest. Hanging electrical cords, drapery pulls and appliances become interesting. Use protective plates to cover the knobs of the stove, the DVD players in your home and make sure that all the large bookshelves, entertainment centers, and appliances (stove & fridge) are attached to the wall using L-brackets.
Making a home childproof isn’t possible unless you tackle the bathroom. All cleaning supplies, chemicals, makeup and other toxins should be removed from the cabinets. Use cabinet locks and make sure that medications are never where a baby can get them. Cover the faucets in the tub with protectors to ensure your baby’s head isn’t bruised and use GFCI outlets near the sink and tub. Obviously, non-slip adherents should be placed in the tub and shower and a baby should never be left alone in or around water, for even a split second. One idea to keep the bathroom off limits is to install a high lock that ensures they cannot enter the bathroom unsupervised. Baby gates can also help. The toilet, believe it or not causes many drownings each year and you are advised for the sake of your keys and your baby’s safety to install a lid lock.
As you move from room to room to make your home childproof, make sure you do so on your knees. This will give you a bird’s eye view of all the things that your baby sees on a regular basis and may unveil some deep, forgotten spots of danger easily overlooked from an adult’s point of view. Look under couches and rugs for choking hazards constantly and remain vigilant to keeping the floors clean. Speaking of floors, you should also install non-slip backings to any throw rugs in the house and allow a baby and toddler to be barefoot if you have hardwood floors.
Your best friend in making a home childproof is a baby gate. Baby gates come in a wide array of sizes and can fit just about any opening in your home. Make sure that you use installed gates at the tops of stairs rather than spring tension gates. Using baby gates can easily allow you to set up a temporary safe haven for your child in one room without restricting their freedom to explore. This also allows you freedom to run to the bathroom or laundry room without having to feel frantic that your baby is getting into trouble. They can also be easily removed when the baby is asleep without permanent damage to the walls or flow of your home.
Other necessities to baby proofing include, cabinet and drawer locks, doorknob protectors and door locks. At some point your baby will want to open and close every door in your home and one favorite baby past time is to empty drawers and cabinets. This can be dangerous for obvious reasons. If you are fearful of messing up your cabinets or furniture, use the locks that install from the interior of the cabinets. This way, no holes are left that may have to be patched down the road. Try to avoid the kind that simply sticks onto the cabinets as most babies can eventually pull these off when they become worn out. Also, keep anything not suitable for a baby or child in places that are high up and out of reach like an over the fridge cabinet.
There are other hints to making a home childproof as well. Make sure that you never place furniture near windows, which is a cause of many childhood injuries every year in the United States. If you have low windows, install window locks so a child cannot accidentally push through the screen and fall out. Purchase bumper pads to cover sharp corners in the home that can lead to accidental head injuries or toe knocks and if you have a fireplace or hearth; shield it with fireproof baby proofing materials.
The one thing about making a home childproof is that it cannot be done without supervision. Even in the most protected homes, children get injured. In fact, 2 out of every three injuries that occur to children under the age of 6 are related to a home safety issue that could have been avoided had the child been properly supervised. Baby monitors with or without video can help extend your eyes and ears but should not be relied on wholly in order to protect your child. Use your best judgment and always remain diligent in your child proofing methods and supervision.