Baby-Proofing Your Home: How to Make Your Living Space Safe For Little Ones
Jeannette Baum10-Minute Read
March 20, 2020
You never truly know what it’s like to worry until you have a child. It can seem like every little thing in your house is a threat to your child’s well-being. Keeping their kids healthy and safe within the walls of their own home is one of the greatest concerns among the parents of babies and young children. Luckily, baby-proofing your house is one of the few worries you can alleviate when you know how to do it properly.
Common Household Dangers
Some household dangers may immediately come to mind when considering things that could threaten the safety of your child, but there are a few that are commonly overlooked.
Your child couldn’t possibly tip over that heavy dresser, right? Wrong. Kids like to climb on things, and it won’t take much for that seemingly steady piece of furniture to tip over, pinning your child underneath. Your child would likely be injured or killed merely from the impact of the furniture, or they could suffocate from the pressure after just a few minutes. In addition to tipping risk, some furniture pieces have rough or sharp edges kids could hurt themselves on. Don’t let it take a trip to the hospital and six stitches later before removing these hazards from your home.
Large pieces of technology such as TVs, computers and gaming consoles are becoming more and more common in modern households. Much like furniture, TVs can easily tip over. With all the buttons and lights, TVs are a prime target for little hands. The bigger flat screens get, the more dangerous they are for children. TVs are also getting lighter, which makes it easier for them to tip over. All it takes is one yank on a loose wire for a large TV or monitor to come tumbling down.
Wires and cords are also a potential strangulation hazard for babies. With baby monitors, for example, many parents make the mistake of placing them too close to the crib. It’s not too hard for a baby to reach through the crib bars and grab the monitor; if the cords happen to end up around the baby’s neck, strangulation could be just a few minutes away.
At such a young age, your child doesn’t yet understand that the pretty glowing ball of light called fire could burn them very badly. As if severe burn risk from the fire isn’t enough, fireplaces are chock-full of other hazards to your child, too. One moment playing with an unattended gas valve or fiddling with electric components on some fireplaces and the next thing you know, tragedy strikes. Little fingers are well-known for getting into things they shouldn’t. Electric shock, toxic ashes, and sharp pokers that are easy to knock over make baby-proofing your fireplace a must.
Tiny fingers and outlets don’t mix well, and outlets are everywhere in modern homes. Electric shock can seriously harm and even kill a small child. Children may be tempted to stick their fingers and small toys into sockets if outlets aren’t sufficiently blocked.
Drawers are your child’s worst enemy, and at the same time one of their biggest curiosities. When a child opens a drawer or a cabinet, the risk of whatever is inside falling on them is always a possibility. Not only that, but those cabinets or drawers may contain small items children can easily choke on; plus, if they slam shut, your child can smash their tiny fingers.
Window Blinds With Cords
Similar to electric wires, the cords on window blinds can pose as a serious strangulation hazard for small children. If your child can reach the cords from your windows, they can easily become tangled and not know how to get out.
Babies and young children have a tendency to climb and explore everything they see without the full understanding of how they could fall and get seriously injured. They could be put at significant risk if the stairs between the floors in your home are left easily accessible.
It’s possible to drown in just 6 inches of water. Small children can become curious and want to play in the water. If they try to climb in, they could tip over and find themselves in real danger without the ability to cry or get out.
Scald burns are common and can be quite serious. When water gets too hot, the sink and bathtub can be injurious – sometimes even deadly – for children. If the temperature in your home isn’t regulated, every faucet in your house becomes a burn risk.
While pools can be fun, relaxing additions to our homes, they can also be one of the deadliest hazards for babies and small children. If pools aren’t securely blocked off, children can wander over, climb decks, and fall in before anybody notices they’re missing. What’s more, if any of your neighbors have pools, there’s nothing to stop your child from wandering into their yard and gaining access to the water.
Ways To Baby-Proof Your Living Space
It’s easy for a parent to become overwhelmed when they realize how many things in their home can pose serious risks to their child’s well-being. Fortunately, there are plenty of steps that can be taken to lower these risks significantly.
Stabilize Your Furniture
Purchase some inexpensive furniture straps, drywall anchors, or “L” brackets. Bolting your furniture to the wall will ensure that it doesn’t come crashing down should your child decide to climb it. Installation will only take a few minutes, and it could save your child’s life.
Secure Your Tech
If your TV is securely wall-mounted, you’re probably OK. If it’s on a stand or on the floor, though, you’ll need to purchase a safety strap – many can attach to either the stand or the wall, and they will prevent the screen from tipping forward. Be sure to gather loose cords and tuck them out of reach of little ones. Securing these cord bundles to the wall and hiding them far back behind furniture can reduce the likelihood of your child even realizing they’re there, therefore reducing the likelihood of an accident.
Form A Fireplace Blockade
Placing a high, sturdy boundary around your fireplace can keep your child from entering unsafe spaces like those around the hearth.
Be sure to place the things that come along with fireplaces like pokers and extra wood piles within the boundary, too. These can easily fall on your child and hurt them badly. If the hearth is raised around your fireplace, include it in the boundary as well to ensure no little ones go tumbling down steps. Place foam padding around your fireplace gates to avoid injury from sharp edges.
Use Outlet Covers
When outlets are in use, be sure to gather loose cords as mentioned before, and make it as difficult as possible for your child to reach and pull plugs from the wall. Keeping covers on every single outlet when not in use is vital to keeping your child safe. Parents have a couple of options when it comes to outlet covers. Plastic plugs are placeholders that go in the socket holes when they’re not being used. Sliding covers have a plastic sliding piece attached that you can move over the socket to make it inaccessible when not in use. Box covers are large plastic covers connected to the outlet by a hinge that you can lift when you need access to the plug. The rest of the time, the socket is covered.
Install Cabinet Locks And Safety Latches
These are an inexpensive fix and can be installed quickly. They work by pulling adjacent cabinet handles together tightly, preventing entry to the inside. Pinch guards are a good idea to attach to drawers and even doors. These will prevent drawers from slamming on your child’s tiny fingers. Another way to baby-proof cabinets is to reorganize. Stack larger, heavier pots and pans on the bottom, and smaller, lighter household items on the top. Take out small choking hazards in the event your child still gets into the drawer. Never pack a cabinet so full that the cabinet door barely shuts. The minute a child opens an overflowing cabinet, the contents can spill out, likely causing injury to your little one.
Use Cordless Window Treatments
When choosing window treatments for your home, try to choose cordless blinds to remove the strangulation hazard altogether. If you already have cords on your windows, tie them up tight and high so your little one won’t be able to reach them and get tangled up in them. There are window locks and tools to keep windows from opening past a certain point that are ideal for rooms hat are located on the second story or higher. Be sure to not to place side tables and dressers directly underneath windows if possible so your child can’t climb to reach the window or the window cords.
Put Up Baby Gates
Baby gates need to be high and sturdy. You don’t want your child trying to climb the gate and the gate giving out. Place gates not only at the top of the stairs, but at the bottom as well. At the bottom to make sure they won’t climb the steps, and at the top to prevent accidental falls. Baby gates are also great for keeping kids out of rooms that are difficult to baby-proof. They can keep your child from wandering away from you in the house to rooms where they can get themselves in trouble.
Use Toilet Covers and Locks
Installing a baby-proof toilet lock to secure your toilet is an absolute must. This will stop your child from even being able to lift the toilet lid, keeping them safe from possibly drowning or slamming the toilet lid on their fingers. Plus, who wants to deal with a baby who’s been playing in toilet water?
Regulate Your Water Heater Temperature
Set the thermostat on your water heater to no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit (or 48 degrees Celsius). Regulating your water will ensure your child won’t find scalding water when playing with any faucets throughout the house. At this temperature, you’ll still have sufficiently hot water to do the dishes and the laundry, but it will be cool enough that your child won’t easily be burned. Always check the bath water yourself before allowing your child to get in just to make sure it’s a safe temperature.
Cover Your Pool
There are heaps of horror stories of young children coming into contact with uncovered pools when parents look away for a quick moment. If you or your neighbor has a pool, be sure to take steps to protect your child in the unfortunate circumstance your child tries to access the water when you aren’t prepared for them to do so. Some ways to best avoid a pool-related incident are putting up fencing around the area, setting up motion activated alarms and covering your pool with child-safety pool covers when not in use.
Additional Child-Proofing Measures
Cover Sharp Corners
Invest in corner guards and cushioned bumpers to place on sharp edges of furniture. Kids are often high-energy. When that energy is combined with weak balance and lack of attention to where they’re going, sharp corners and hard surfaces can quickly become dangerous. Consider also placing foam padding on hard surfaces like bath faucets or putting rugs on the bathroom tile to avoid slips and head injuries.
Install Safety Cameras
Cameras are becoming more widely used in households for all kinds of safety reasons. Safety cameras in your child’s room or nursery are the modern baby monitors. Cameras allow you to use the additional sense of sight to monitor your child’s well-being without having to go to their room. Most child safety cameras can be accessed from your mobile device, making it even easier to check on your little one. If you have a babysitter, this feature can come in handy to put your mind at ease when you’re not home.
Employ Door Alarms
You can put as many locks on your outer doors as you want, but toddlers and young children are resourceful – if they want to go outside, they’ll find a way to get out. Install door alarms so that you’re aware of your children trying to leave the house. This way, you’ll catch them before they ever make it outside without adult supervision.
Inspect Your Home’s Exterior
In the event your child does make it outside without your supervision, it’s a good idea to prepare for that situation ahead of time. Sealing any flaking paint, removing any nails sticking out, securing loose porch boards or deck steps and removing any plants that are toxic to ingest are good places to start.
Talk To Your Neighbors
Keep your neighbors informed about your safety concerns, especially if they have a pool, a dog they let out often or any other safety hazard to your child. Most neighbors are happy to contribute to child safety however they can. Plus, it can never hurt to have an extra set of eyes watching over your little one should they end up outside your direct line of supervision.
Maximize In-Person Supervision
The very best way to keep your child safe is for you to act as their first line of defense between them and potential safety hazards. The way to do that is to stay close to your child as often as you can. Distractions are everywhere, but it’s important that parents are mindful of what their children are up to at all times to keep them safe from any number of dangerous situations they might find themselves in.
The Bottom Line
Babies and young children are fragile, accident-prone beings that many parents wish they could keep in protective bubbles all the time. They bump into things, they fall over, they cry, then they do it all again. While it’s not realistic to keep your child in a protective bubble, what you can do instead is take measures to turn your home into a safe environment for them to live and play in. If you do this, you’ll be less likely to encounter preventable accidents in your home, and the healthier and happier your children will be.
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