Baby-proofing 101: How to Keep Your Little One Safe
You and your partner have worked hard: propping up your baby’s hands and knees, mimicking the crawling movements, placing a desired object a foot away to make your baby work for it and jumping for joy when your little one finally takes those first crawls or steps. Once you have a mover, you also have a new concern: baby-proofing. What was once out-of-reach in your home will no longer be now that your baby is mobile. This gets even more dangerous when your child starts to walk, but there are things you can do to make your home a safe place for any type of cruiser.
First comes the stairs. If you live in a single-level dwelling you won't have to worry about this, but if you have any sort of stairs in the home, they will need to be baby-proofed immediately. Walkers face particular danger but even crawlers can tumble down the steps and end up with a serious injury or concussion. The Brain Injury Association of America states that falling is the number one cause of disability and death in the United States and those aged zero to four are at particularly high risk. You can use a handy gate to block the way and protect from danger. Some designs even have openings to make it easy for older children and adults to get through. If you purchase one of these models, be sure the lock is always latched after someone uses the opening. There are also plenty of different styles to match any color scheme or home décor.
Next, look around your home for any sharp corners. This could be the edge of a coffee table, fireplace mantle, entertainment center or appliance. Applying a buffer to the edges of these will decrease the chances that your baby will fall and hit his or her head on the corner. You can use a homemade version with pool noodles and duct tape or purchase this rubber edging kit to protect your little one’s head from any sharp spots.
After cushioning sharp edges, look for any tripping hazards. This could mean cords, edges of rugs, changes in flooring or decorations that run along the floor. While you and other family members may be used to stepping around or over things, your baby will not. You can reduce falls by making sure your floor is clear of any uneven areas that might get in the way.
This is another dangerous spot that can cause tremendous harm to your child. Be sure that you have all open outlets plugged with outlet covers so that your baby won't stick anything in them. You can even choose an outlet plug cover than has a lock so it can only be opened by adults. Begin immediately teaching your child that these are not to be touched and help your little one understand that he or she needs to stay away from them. Also, be sure any cords are out of reach from baby so that you won't have to worry about electrocution.
You have door locks to keep danger out, but it’s important to also keep your child inside. Door knob covers can prevent your toddler from going into dangerous rooms or heading outside alone. You can choose a simple model, like this one, or search through several other styles and options.
Cupboards are another danger that seems innocent until a little one decides to explore. Not only can fingers get pinched and smashed by the door, but you can also find dangerous chemicals and medicines behind closed doors. Installing cupboard locks can make it easy for any older children or adults to reach the things they need but keep tiny hands out of danger. You can choose several different options or styles to fit your needs.
Fireplaces and Windows
Fireplaces not only offer dangerous corners to cause injury but can also be a hazard themselves. Be sure to install a grill on your fireplace with a childproof lock to keep your little one out. You can also put locks, bars or gates on windows to ensure that your baby won't fall out of them. Patios are also a falling hazard so be sure there's no way for your child to slip through the rails.
Now is the time to make sure that any scissors, knives or razors are out of reach. Move any sharp objects to higher drawers or cupboards and be aware of anything that you might not have noticed before. One especially dangerous spot for razors is on the side of tubs. If a little one gets a hold of these they can cause painful cuts and scrapes.
Another great way to ensure baby safety is by creating a play area. This could be as simple as a small playpen, like this one, or as large as this dog or child play fence. If you set this up, be prepared for your baby to get bored sometimes. Many parents find that by getting into the play area and showing the baby how much fun it is to play with the toys inside, their child will be less likely to try to get out. This is also great as a temporary protection if there are older toddlers or animals around that you want to keep away from your baby.
Once your little one is mobile in the living room, he or she will also likely be more explorative in the bathtub. This can mean soaps and shampoos are more likely to end up in his or her eyes and water taps may become a toy. Be sure to turn down the levels on your water heater so that there won't be any concern over baby turning up the tap and getting a burn. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends that you set your water heater at 120 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid injury. Staying close by and keeping an eye on your child is also a good idea whenever you are giving a bath.
Having a little one moving about can bring many new dangers and concerns, but with careful baby-proofing you can be sure that your child will be protected from harm. Follow these steps to ensure that everywhere in your home is ready so that your little mover can explore safe and sound and you’ll be free from worry.