Parents worry endlessly about how to protect their children from stranger abduction and violence, but many overlook one of the biggest threats to their children’s safety and well-being — their own home. Experts say that children between the ages of 1 and 4 are more likely to be killed by fire, burns, drowning, choking, poisoning, or falls than by a stranger’s violence. That’s why it’s so important to carefully childproof your home.
In the living room:
- Cordless shades or cord cleats are the way to keep blinds safe for baby.
- Coffee tables, TV stands, even window ledges offer plenty of sharp corners at eye level for someone 2 feet tall. Cushion edges with bumpers. Scan the room for breakables and move them to where baby can’t get them. You’ll be amazed by how far up, or over, little ones can actually reach.
- Research tells us keeping books in view of baby helps her develop a love of reading. Secure bookcases and other tall furniture to the wall with bolts or adjustable, locking furniture straps that attach to the wall and to the object to keep your little brainiac from pulling it over.
- Place TVs behind closed doors in an entertainment center, or mount a flat-panel model to the wall.
- There’s a reason mud pies are so popular with the under-5 crowd, and those houseplants are going to look mighty tasty. Keep them out of reach so your little seedling won’t be tempted.
- Got stairs? If so, a baby gate is a must. Finally, they come in styles to match your home’s decor.
- Shield your fireplace with a guard door, and protect her from sharp corners on brick or ceramic tile.
In the bathroom:
- Always test the water temperature before placing baby in the tub. Set your water heater to 120 degrees or install an anti-scald device to the end of the bath spout and sink faucet.
- Safeguard from slips by using nonslip mats in and out of the tub as well as on any hard-surface floors near the bathroom — chances are you’ll be chasing a naked, wet baby through the house at some point.
- Install a toilet lock so little fingers don’t get smashed, to protect from accidental drowning and to prevent any unsanitary exposure.
- If you don’t have an out-of-reach place to store medicines and supplements (for you and your baby), invest in a lockable medicine safe.
- Keep looking like a hot mama, but always move the flat-iron cord (or any other appliance cord) out of baby’s reach to avoid burns or strangulation.
- Cover the tub spout to protect his head in case he falls.
In the kitchen:
- Pet kibble is a choking hazard, and if left unattended, you can count on it ending up in baby’s mouth. If you feed Fido as soon as you walk in the door, stand by as he eats, then immediately remove the bowl.
- Stove knobs are fun to twist, so keep them turned off with stove knob covers. An appliance lock ensures Junior won’t pull the oven door down on top of himself. Got something bubbling and simmering on the stove? Keep baby safe from splatters and from pulling on pot handles with a stove guard.
- Every kitchen should have a fire extinguisher, so choose a dry-chemical extinguisher and keep it out of reach on a high pantry shelf, mounted to the wall or in a childproof cabinet. You want to put out the fire, not your baby.
- Under-sink cabinets are a typical place to store cleaning products, but with baby in residence, you need to move them out of reach. If they must stay in low cabinets, invest in latches and locks to always keep the cabinet doors securely shut.
In the nursery:
- Remove those super-cute bumpers, blankets, pillows and stuffed animals from baby’s crib. They can actually suffocate your child. Mobiles with small hanging parts should also come out as soon as baby can pull herself upright.
- When you think “childproofing,” those plastic outlet covers are probably first to mind. Think again. Many are proven choking hazards, so consider sliding covers instead.
- A baby monitor is a must-have, but keep cords tightly wound and always away from the crib, or choose a cordless monitor.
- Store toys in an open toy box so there’s no lid to slam baby’s fingers. Watch for wicker’s easy-to-pull-off wood pieces.