39 Comprehensive Tips And Guide About Childproofing Your Home
Before you know it, your baby will be highly mobile – and into everything. That’s why it’s a good idea to make your home a safety zone well before your baby starts crawling. You can do it yourself or hire a childproofing service, and you’ll want to keep these preventive measures in place until they’re no longer needed or effective. For instance, a safety gate’s useful life ends when the child is about age 2 or big enough to climb over it. Other measures can be relaxed as tour child shows some judgment, maybe by age 4.
Even a well childproofed home is no substitute for a watchful parent, of course, however it can take lesser stress and burnout if you’ve done it. But the room-by-room guide that follows can make your home safer-both your child and for you.
Check all baby equipment frequently for broken parts or malfunctioning hardware. Stop using anything, particularly a crib, if it has broken or missing parts.
Remember that a crib is the safest place for the baby to nap or sleep. But once your child attempts to climb out of the crib, consider using a bed with child railings or putting the mattress on the floor. Place the crib well away from wall hangings, toys, window blinds and curtains, and other furniture so that an adventurous baby can’t reach anything dangerous.
Be sure that crib mattress is firm, that there are no gaps between the mattress and the sides of the crib, and that the mattress cover and sheets fit snugly. Soft bedding-including pillows, quilts, and comforters-is a suffocation hazard for infants, so keep those items out of the crib. Instead, plan to dress baby warmly enough for comfort. If you use a lightweight blanket, it should be pulled up no farther than the baby’s underarms.
Floor and carpet
Position furniture and toys so you’ll have a clear path when you enter the room at night. Any area rug or throw rug should have a nonskid backing or, better yet, be secured with double-faced tape, so no edges stick up.
Avoid high chests or table. Bolt book cases and chests to the wall so they won’t tip if a child climbs on them.
Paint and other fumes
Allow time for fumes from new paint, wallpaper, drapes, and carpeting to subside before baby comes home. Paint the nursery at least a week before baby’s arrival. When possible, use a paint that is low in volatile organic compounds, which may be irritating to the baby (and to some adults). To reduce fumes, air out new furniture and anything made of plastic or particleboard.
Don’t store toys in wooden chest with lids that can clam shut and hurt a child or cause suffocation. Chests designed specifically for holding toys have hinges or lid supports that will hold the lid open in any position to prevent such accidents. Open shelves or crates are safer alternatives and make it easier to find toys. Or look for a chest without a lid, one that has ventilation holes that wont be blocked if the chest is placed against the wall, or one that when closed, leaves a space between the lid and the sides of the chest to allow ventilation.
Toys and mobiles
Keep soft toys out of the crib. They are a suffocation hazard for young babies and can be used as stepping stool for climbing out. If you buy a crib mobile, be sure to hang it out of baby’s reach. A mobile should be taken down when babies are able to push up on their hands and knees, at about 6 months.
Basement, Driveway, and Garage
Door to house
Install a lock on the door leading outside or to the garage. Consider installing a self-locking “Dutch door” that allows you to pass groceries into the house without letting your toddler out.
Test an electric garage-door opener’s sensitivity by placing a 2-inch-high block of wood on the floor in the door’s path. If the door doesn’t stop, don’t use the garage door opener. Instead, open and close the door manually, or replace the garage-door opener with a device equipped with optical sensors that prevent the garage door from closing if a child gets in the way.
Store gasoline, oil, barbecue starter, insecticides, antifreeze, paint, car polish, and other hazardous substances behind locked cabinet doors.
Stash detergent, bleach, and other laundry essentials in a locking cupboard. Keep all chemicals in their original containers; never transfer them to soda bottles or other beverage containers.
Don’t purchase a riding toy until you’re certain your child is mature enough to use it safely. Attach a tall flag on the back of a bike trailer so it’s visible to motorists. The lower it is to the ground, the safer a wheeled toy is. Always supervise a child when riding. Be sure your child can ride without going into traffic, on steep hills, steps, or into driveways. If there’s no safe place to ride, use a riding toy only for visits to the park. To keep children away from the garage, store tricycles and ride-on toys in the house instead.
To prevent falls down basement stairs, install a lock as high as you can reach on both sides of the basement door. Make sure stairs are well lit and keep all clutter and toys off steps.
Reduce the setting of your hot-water heater to 120 F. An infant’s skin burns much more easily than an adult’s.
Make your workbench off—limits, whether you’re working there or not. Lock up power tools and all small or sharp objects.
Keep bathroom doors securely closed or blocked off with a gate. You may also want to cover the inside door lock with duct tape to keep baby from locking in case baby gets locked inside the bathroom.
Bathtub and water safety
When using a baby bathtub, always keep a hand on your baby. Never use a bath seat, or bath ring. There have been numerous reports of babies drowning when their parents tuned their backs, even momentarily. Never leave your baby alone in water. When bathing a toddler, attach rubber strips to the surface of a regular bathtubs to prevent slipping. Get a cover for the bathtub’s spout to protect your child from its heat-conducting metal and hard edges.
If you use cloths diapers, make sure the pail has a tamper-proof lid with a solid licking device to eliminate a drowning hazard. Don’t use deodorizing tablets, which can be ingested.
Store all electrical devices, such as curling irons and hair dryers, in a high cupboard outside the bathroom.
Keep medicines off of bedside tables and install a lock on the medicine cabinet. You might even store medications in a childproof locked box kept on a high shelf outside the bathroom. Put vitamin supplements out of reach, too – iron pills or vitamins containing iron are leading child poisoners. Choose child-resistant packaging for prescription and over-the-counter drugs and any vitamin supplements. Post the number of the poison-control center near your medicine cabinet and call before you administer any remedy.
Install a device to lock the lid of the adult toilet to keep baby out.
Decks, Porches, and Yard
Backyard play equipment
Don’t assume play equipment is safe simply because it’s made for children. Supervise constantly; toddlers don’t understand heights, their own limitation, or the pendulum effect of swings. Don’t allow toddlers to use a swing until their feet firmly touch the ground and you’re sure they’re mature and strong enough to hold on without losing their balance when leaning backwards. Put infants and toddlers between the ages of 9 months and 3 years in specially designed swings with sides, back, and crotch and waist belts to contain them. Look for smooth edges and surfaces with no ragged seams or corners, and no nooks or crannies that could trap a child’s fingers.
Doors leading outside
Install a latch high on the backyard door. Firmly lock sliding patio doors, and secure them with a bar in the door track.
Lawn and Garden equipment
Keep your tot indoors whenever you use a string tripper, snow blower, power mower, hedge trimmer, or other outdoor equipment. Pour fuel into this equipment while outdoors, not in the garage, where fumes could become hazard or possible ignite.
If you have a pool, surround it with a fence (required under most building codes, as well as by many insurance companies before they’ll issue a policy) and a self-locking gate. Cover the pool during the off-season. Pool alarms for in-ground pools sound if a child falls in, but they are prone to false alarms.
Porch or deck railing
The spaces between a porch or deck railing should be no more than 2 3/8 inches. If they’re wider than that, install a railing guard made of mesh or plastic.
Empty all outdoor containers of water, including buckets and wading pools, after use. Store them upside down, preferable in the garage.
Keep a box of baking soda near the stove to extinguish grease fires. Purchase a small fire extinguisher and mount it nearby. Familiarize yourself with its use.
Anything that might be harmful to a child should be stashed away in drawers or cupboards equipped with child-resistant safety latches. The list includes all kitchen cleaners; plastic wrap packages with a serrated edge; knives, scissors, and other sharp objects; refrigerator magnets or any small kitchen knickknacks; and any type of liquor.
When you cook, use a gate for the kitchen or keep baby in a play yard, swing, or high chair-in view but out of harm’s way.
Keep your kitchen stepstool in a closet when you’re not using it to prevent your little one from climbing into trouble.
Decide on an alternative to using a microwave oven to warm bottles of breast milk or formula or heat jars of baby food. In the cases of bottles, holding them under warm tap water should do the trick. A microwave can create hot spots in the milk or food that can burn a baby’s mouth and throat. It may also case jars, bottles, and nurser liners to explode.
To prevent baby from tugging down small appliances – including coffeemakers, food maker, and toaster ovens-wrap up and fasten cords out of reach with twist ties or rubber bands. Or tape cords to the wall with masking tape. Irons are another hazard. Put baby safely in a safety seat or play yard whenever you iron, and don’t leave an unattended baby and an iron in a room together.
Pull off front stove knobs and store them safely until it’s time to cook. You can also buy childproof knob covers. When possible, cook on the back burners, and always turn all pot handles toward the back of the cooktop.
Living Room or Den
Fireplaces and Wood-Burning Stoves
If you have a fireplace or wood-burning stove, teach your toddler to respect the warnings “Hot!” and “Don’t touch!” Never leave a child in the room alone with a heat source, even if he or she seems safely enclosed in a play yard or seat. Consider installing a fireproof safety railing around the fireplace, and always use a fireplace screen. If your fireplace has glass enclosure, keep your child from touching it, to prevent burns to his or her hands. Put fireproof padding around sharp brick edges on raised hearths.
Glass doors and objects
Put large stickers on sliding glass doors to keep your child from crawling, walking, or running into them. Remove vases and other knickknacks tour child could break, fall on, or swallow.
Give away poisonous houseplants (poinsettias, dumbcane, dieffenbacia, philodenrons, calla lilies, mistletoe, and hyacinths, to name a few), or ask friends to take care of them until your child is older. Keep all remaining plants well trimmed, so a child can’t reach them.
TVs and VCRs
Childhood head injuries from falling television set are a growing problem. The TV and VCR should be out of your child’s reach. Secure them on a shelf fastened to the wall.