What You Need to Know About Babyproofing Your Home

It's Child Safety Protection Month!

Jennifer Mellon November 26, 2017

For new parents, babyproofing often ranks as one of the higher stress inducers during the first years of your child’s life.  It is never too soon to start preparing for a baby and toddler on the move. November is Child Safety Month which makes it a perfect time to start prepping your home or auditing your current baby proofing to ensure your child is safe at all time. Going room by room in your home is the easiest way to ensure you have thought of everything your child may get into.

The Bathroom
1. The Bathroom

Bathrooms are a busy place in a young family’s life from baby baths to toddler potty training. During bath time, make sure to never leave your child unattended, even for a minute. Bringing in everything you need for the bath before you bring your child into the bathroom with you is helpful. Always test the water temperature before placing baby in the tub. Temperatures can change so test before placing your child in no matter how recently you tested from the spout. (It also helps to test with your wrist!) Set your water heater to 120 degrees or install an anti-scald device to the end of the spout and all household sinks to avoid burns.

Protect your child from slips by using nonslip mats in the tub and mats in the bathroom as well. As your child gets more mobile, they will have a likelihood of running once out of the bath and could slip and fall. Be sure to install a toilet lock so children do not tip over the top of the toilet bowl and fall in. Accidental drowning happens in toilets. A toilet lock also protects curious hands from getting smashed in the lid or playing in unsanitary water. Make sure all medications are locked away and that razors and corded hair equipment are out of reach from little hands.

The Kitchen
2. The Kitchen

The kitchen is often the first place parents think of when babyproofing. There are so many potential hazards it can help to make a checklist and ensure you do not miss anything your child could get into. A great place to start is down low on your baby’s level. Is the pet’s food and water out? Babies can drown in 2 inches of water and pet food is a choking hazard. Have your pet eat in front of you and remove the bowls when finished.

Cabinets are often the first play toy once a baby starts moving. Ensure that every cabinet is locked and all toxic cleaning products are placed up high and locked. Ensure that dishwashers have a childproof lock installed so that your baby can’t open and get into glass or knives. Knives should be placed in a lock cabinet up high and out of reach to climbers. Stove knobs can be fun to play with so purchase knob covers, making it difficult for your child to start the stove or oven. Oven doors should also have locks installed.

The Nursery
3. The Nursery

The baby’s room is often one place parent’s forget to babyproof as the child is often fully supervised when in their room. However, there are many hazards. Check to ensure your child’s crib slats are 2 ⅜ inches or less apart. Drop-side cribs have been recalled so be sure if the crib is second hand there is no option to lower the side. Bumpers can be a sweet accessory, but they are dangerous, as are stuffed animals, blankets, and pillows for babies. Mobiles with small hanging parts should also be removed once your baby is old enough to start pulling themselves up. Baby monitors are a necessity for most families; however, make sure that the cord is not long enough for a baby to choke themselves by wrapping around their necks if they were able to get out of the crib.

The Living Room
4. The Living Room

Outlet covers are often the first accessory for families to purchase when childproofing. Just ensure you purchase the sliding kind and not the plastic plug covers, as they can be a choking hazard. Fireplaces are a beautiful feature in any home, but if lit can be a grave danger to your toddler or baby. Ensure that there is a guard door. Cover sharp corners of the fireplace and tables with rubber bumpers. Make sure all tall furniture pieces like bookshelves are bolted to the wall so a little climber will not pull furniture on top of them. Cut or remove all cords from shades, which can wrap around a baby’s neck easily. If your home has stairs, make sure to get a gate at the top and bottom. Top gates are made specifically to bolt into the wall so that a child can’t lean on it and fall down the stairs. Make sure windows and doors have locks that your baby can not open. If you are on a higher story, only open your windows from the top to protect your baby from falling through a screened-in window.

As Your Baby Grows
5. As Your Baby Grows

As your child grows, you will have other items you will need to think of and remove from your home or place in a safe space your child can not access. If you have older children, different items will need to be kept out of your baby’s reach, like small toys, toys with lots of pieces, or art supplies your child may ingest. Being vigilant through all stages of your child’s life will keep your baby safe at every point in their development. This slideshow shares a few ideas, but only you know the specifics of your home and how best to protect your family. This is just a good starting point this Child Safety Protection Month!

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Jennifer Mellon

Jennifer Mellon has worked in the child welfare field for more than a decade, serving in varying capacities as the Executive Director and Chief Development Officer of Joint Council on International Children's Services (JCICS) and the Corporate Communications Program Manager for the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI). Jennifer has served on the Board of the Campagna Center, which provides critical educational services to children and families in the DC Metro Area and on the Development Committee for the National Council for Adoption. She is the mom of three children and resides in Alexandria, Virginia.

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