Preventative Parenting: 5 Tips For Babyproofing Your Home

Babyproofing the House

Commendations to you for being a wise, responsible, and loving parent! Since you’re reading this, you don’t need the incentive of learning home accident statistics. But perhaps you know an adult who’s not as aware as you. If so, here are the numbers. Annually in the US, more than 3.4 million children suffer an accidental household injury. Approximately 2,300 kids die as a result. This is the May 2016 report by A Secure Life.

Can you surmise the leading causes? These are the top seven:

  • drowning
  • burns
  • choking
  • fires
  • falls
  • poisoning
  • suffocating

In children ages 1-4, drowning is the chief cause of injury and death. Just 2 inches of water can drown a baby. Regarding burns, 300 kids are treated in hospital emergency rooms, and two children die each year. The major threat to young children is scalding burns from steam and hot liquids. In this article, you’ll learn how to protect your child from the most prevalent injuries. Here are lifesaving ways to baby-proof your home.

BABY-PROOFING BASICS

Once Baby can move independently, you need to anticipate what could potentially hurt them. Think about objects they could try to play with, push, pull on, grab, or open that pose danger. Envision where they might crawl, climb, or walk. Then, take the necessary steps to protect them. Let’s mentally move through your home, tackling hazards as we go.

BASEMENT

In the cellar, make sure your hot water heater is set below 120°F. Otherwise, at bath time, your child could get a scalding burn. Do you have caustic substances such as paint stored in your basement? If so, make sure they’re sitting safely on high shelves, in airtight containers. On the ceiling, install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors or a combination alarm.

Now, at the head of the stairs leading down to the basement, install a safety gate. Avoid using the pressure-mounted type, since your child might push it down. Secure the gate with screws drilled into the connecting surfaces, using hardware mounts. Note that the gate should open away from the staircase. In the event Baby leans on the gate, they won’t fall toward the steps.

Also, be on the lookout for indoor pests. Those harmful for children include mice, rats, roaches, ants, lice, fleas, bed bugs, spiders, and mosquitoes. Indian meal moths can infest your food. Termites, silverfish, and moths destroy wood, paper, and fabrics, respectively.

To rid your home of unwanted animals and insects, hire a pest control professional such as those at Ace Walco and Sons Termite and Pest Control. Professionals like this can explain how to deter pests and treat those with established nests. For the complete inventory of pests to guard against, see this pest identifier.

KITCHEN

Several types of accidents can occur in the kitchen. With Mom busy cooking and cleaning, it’s hard keeping tabs on an active baby. Here’s how to protect your child from suffocation, cuts, toxic ingestion, burns, falls, and choking.

Keep plastic and paper bags in high drawers, along with sharp objects. In bottom cabinets, store relatively harmless items, such as paper products and plastic containers. Did you know that dishwasher and laundry pods look like candy to kids? If your baby puts a pod in their mouth, it can explode! Therefore, stock pods, detergents, and cleaning supplies in top cabinets. Then, affix safety latches to all cupboards containing hazardous materials.

Do family members take vitamin and mineral supplements? If so, keep containers in a hard-to-reach cabinet or drawer. Supplements also look like candy to a baby, and they can easily overdose. You can’t rely on childproof caps. A persistent tyke can open them.

Prevent stove accidents with knob covers, so your baby can’t turn on the burners. When cooking, try to limit burner use to rear hotplates. If not possible, ensure that pot handles are turned inward, so curious hands can’t grab them.

Did you know that highchair accidents are ever increasing? Each year, more than 9,400 injuries occur when babies stand up in their chairs or fall from them. These statistics translate to one highchair injury every hour. Prevent such accidents by securing your child with chair restraints and belts. Non-skid rugs also help protect against injury.

Do you display magnets on your fridge? As a choking hazard, please keep them out of reach. Cords dangling from appliances invite toddlers to tug on them. Head trauma and bruises can follow when kids pull down machines. When not in use, unplug appliances.

Though tablecloths minimize messes, they’re best avoided since a toddler can yank on them, spilling hot food. Climbers will take advantage of step stools and chairs to access a nearby stove or table. You many not catch your innocent perpetrator in the act! Therefore, prevent tumbles by removing climbing aids. Lastly, equip your kitchen with a fire extinguisher and smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.

Hopefully, you’re not feeling overwhelmed at this point. We have one more especially risky room to cover, with the other rooms in your house more benign.

BATHROOM

Bath time can be one of the most fun events in Baby’s day! Yet, most drowning accidents involving babies occur in the tub. One foolproof way to prevent this is to always keep your hands on your child. If something needs your attention outside the bathroom, take Baby with you.

Set the stage for safety by lining your tub floor with a mat, secured with suction cups. To ensure the proper bathwater temperature, check it first with a thermometer. Clear cosmetics from sink and tub ledges since they can be poisonous. Speaking of toxic chemicals, keep emergency phone numbers posted near all landline phones and also stored on your cellphone.

While bathing your child, keep them a safe distance from fixtures to avoid getting bumped. After bathing, your child’s skin can be slick. When removing them from the tub, make sure your hands are dry. Also, sidestep slips and falls with non-skid rugs.

Believe it or not, toilets also pose a drowning risk, preventable with a toilet lock. Store harmful products on high shelves and medicines in locked cabinets. To avoid electric shock, keep corded appliances out of reach. Above all, never leave Baby alone in the bathroom, always keeping it locked from the outside.

LIVING ROOM

In this room, the greatest hazards are collisions and falls. Create buffers on sharp corners with soft cushioned guards. Apply them to all furniture with jutting edges. Falling against them can result in puncture wounds and stitches.

If you have a fireplace, surround it with a gate or screen. Move pokers and firewood out of reach. Run extension cords behind furniture, so Baby doesn’t trip or chew on them. Also, keep the cords of laptops and phone chargers beyond reach.

Houseplants are so tempting! There’s dirt to play with and leaves to chew. Ingestion poses the risk of poisoning, upset stomach, and allergic reactions. Below are toxic houseplants to keep away from your baby. Scientific names follow common names in parentheses.

  • daffodils (Narcissus)
  • dumb cane (Dieffenbachia)
  • Easter lily (Lilium longiflorum)
  • English ivy (Hedera helix)
  • golden pothos – (Epipremnum aureum)
  • heart leaf plant (Philodendron)
  • oleander (Nerium oleander)
  • peace lily (Spathiphyllum)
  • sago palm (Cycas revoluta)
  • ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)

Refer to this Better Homes and Gardens article for plant photos and additional information.

In the living room, you also need to be vigilant about climbing. Move furniture away from window ledges so baby can’t use it for leverage, possibly falling through an open window.

Tykes regard knickknacks as toys, so make them inaccessible. Cords for blinds and drapes are also off-limits since they’re strangling hazards.

Hopefully, you don’t smoke, but if you do, lock up lighters, matches, and tobacco products. Empty ashtrays immediately after use. If you have liquor in the house, lock it away in cabinets. Here’s a sobering statistic. Every 30 minutes, a child is injured by a TV or furniture tip-over.

Anchor TVs and lamps to a table or entertainment center, so your toddler can’t knock them down. Alternatively, mount a TV to the wall, along with hutches and bookcases.

It’s wise to vacuum daily. This habit will protect your wee one from ingesting debris and dropped items, such as paperclips and loose change. To prevent skin burns, cover heating vents and radiators.

NURSERY

Place a thick rug or carpeting under the crib as a cushion against potential falls. To be on par with current safety standards, your baby’s crib shouldn’t be more than five years old. Until your child is six months old, keep stuffed animals, pillows, and fluffy blankets out of the crib, to avoid suffocation.

When Baby can reach for items, take down decorations and toys strung across the crib. Once Baby can stand, remove bumper pads and crib toys which can be used as leverage to climb out.

When putting your sweet pea to sleep, lay them on their back, to avoid Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Also known as crib death, this term refers to the death of a baby during sleep for no apparent reason and without warning. Here are more tips on preventing SIDS.

Make sure a changing table has three raised sides and a restraining belt. A lidded toy box can trap Baby’s head, so keep toys in an open bin instead. On doors, install finger pinch guards. Station a video monitor in the nursery, ensuring cords are out of reach. Use UL-listed night-lights and replacement bulbs.

Parents.com offers free videos on how to baby-proof your home, available here.

ON ALL FLOORS

Install safety gates at the bottom and top of each staircase. On every level above your main floor, store an escape ladder. Available in 13-foot and 25-foot lengths, escape ladders fold compactly and can be extended quickly. In the case of a fire or storm emergency, you’ll have a safe means of exit from an upper level. Also, keep a fire extinguisher on each floor of your home.

Avoid furniture tip-over by bracketing down desks, tables, and chairs. Outside each bedroom, install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.

Every year, approximately 2,000 children end up in an emergency room after inserting a finger or metal object into an electrical outlet. It can occur with even tiny items, such as a paperclip or spoon handle. Here’s additional information on electrical shock.

To prevent electrocution, use sliding door outlets. Whenever you remove a plug, its cover automatically shifts over the outlet. It’s also wise to cover power strips and surge protectors.

Here’s a helpful resource. In February 2016, Safety.com reported on the best baby-proofing products, including reviews and prices. You can access the article here. The ideal safeguard is a responsible, focused adult. However, even with all your staunch efforts to protect your child, bumps, booboos, and falls are part of babyhood. You survived, and with your loving care, your child will too!

Image Source: Flickr

Preventative Parenting: 5 Tips For Babyproofing Your Home

Kara Masterson is a freelance writer from West Jordan, Utah. She graduated from the University of Utah and enjoys writing and spending time with her dog, Max.