Young children love to explore. Unfortunately sometimes they stumble upon things that aren't safe. In this post, we cover all of the steps that you will need to take to childproof your home. We also touch on lots of potential hazards and things that can go wrong if they are not addressed.
The point here is not to scare you. Rather, it's to make you aware of the dangers lurking in your home, so that you can address them. That way, you can get back to enjoying your family with one less thing to worry about.
Parents often set up one room as a nursery before their bundle of joy arrives. If you're going to do this, you might as well make sure it's babyproofed from the beginning.
Make sure to purchase a crib that meets the latest safety standards. It's fine to get one second hand if it's just a few years old. However, something that is 10 - 20 years old is not likely to be up to the latest standards.
When it comes to cribs, bare is best. So, make sure there are no pillows, bumpers, stuffed animals, or blankets inside. As nice as these things look, they can create a suffocation hazard for infants.
If possible, position the crib so that it is away from all windows and power cords.
Installing a baby monitor is a great way to keep tabs on your baby when you're not in the same room. Just be sure that the cord is at least three feet away from the crib. Also, make sure your baby monitor's range can cover your entire home.
The bathroom is full of potential hazards for your little explorer. In general, it's a good idea not to leave your little one in the bathroom unattended. This is particularly important if there is water in the bathtub.
Place latches on any cabinets that contain medicine, detergents, cleaning supplies or other hazardous materials. As an added layer of protection, it can be a good idea to keep medicine in a medicine cabinet that is high and out of reach from small hands.
A faucet cover for the bathtub can be a great way to protect your little one from bumping their head. Kids often squirm and move around in the tub, and those hard metal faucets can hurt if they aren't covered.
It's a good practice to keep your toilet lid closed when it's not in use, since toilets can be a drowning hazard. As an extra layer of safety, install a safety guard so that babies and toddlers aren't able to open the lid.
Be sure to unplug hairdryers, electric curling irons, and any other electronics when they are not being used. Given the proximity to water, these can be an electrocution risk.
While the kitchen is generally a really popular room in the house, there are plenty of ways for small kids to get into trouble. So, childproofing this room is a high priority.
Stove And Oven
This is a particularly dangerous appliance for young ones. For starters, it's a good idea to get a stove guard to prevent kids from turning on the burners or the oven.
In general, when you're using the stove, try to use the back burners instead of the front ones. That way, small hands will be less likely to reach over the counter and touch something hot.
When you're using pots and pans, always keep the handles pointed toward the back. If handles are facing forward, toddlers may reach up and grab them.
It's a good idea to get a lock for the refrigerator and dishwasher, since both may contain things that you wouldn't want your child to touch. The dishwasher can be particularly hazardous if sharp knives and other silverware are placed on the bottom rack.
Keep toasters, microwaves, and other small appliances out of reach if possible. For appliances that you don't use frequently, it's a good idea to keep them unplugged as well.
Drawers And Cabinets
You will want to get safety latches for any cabinets that contain sharp objects like knives and scissors. Sames goes for hazardous materials like cleaning supplies.
There are a couple of options here. You can get internal latches or external latches. External latches tend to be more reliable, but you have to remember to latch them every time you close the cabinet or drawer. Internal latches are not quite as reliable, but work on their own without you having to remember each time. Of course, if you want to be extra safe, you can get both.
A safety cover for the garbage disposal can be a good idea, since these are particularly dangerous.
The main thing to check in your living room is the fireplace. If you have one, consider installing a fireplace gate to keep kids away when a fire is going.
Throughout The House
When it comes to childproofing, there are plenty of things that will show up in lots of different rooms in the house. The best thing to do is to consult this list, while walking from room to room to see if anything needs to be babyproofed.
Place covers on any outlets that aren't being used, and make sure that they can't be easily removed. This means that you may struggle a bit to get them off, but it also means your toddler probably won't be able to remove them. It's also a good idea to make sure that the covers are large enough that they aren't a choking hazard.
Install safety gates at the top and bottom of the staircase to prevent falls and injuries. Any infant that is able to move around a bit will be at risk of falling down from the top. Older babies and young toddlers are at risk of climbing up from the bottom and then taking a tumble as well.
Heavy furniture should be mounted to the wall so that it won't tip over if a small child attempts to start climbing or pulling on it. The same goes for appliances like TVs.
You should also put corner and edge bumpers on sharp edges. So, when your little one inevitably takes a tumble, they won't cut themselves on something sharp.
Use doorstops and door holders to prevent little fingers from getting crushed or pinched when a door opens or closes.
If you have door knobs, it's a good idea to put covers on them. This makes it harder for young children to open them on their own. Lever type door handles are a bit more difficult to childproof.
For doors that lead outside, install a chain or sliding lock up high, and out of reach from young kids. That way, you won't have to worry about them opening the door for strangers or heading outside on their own.
Make sure that cords and strings from blinds and drapes don't hang down, since these can be a strangulation hazard. Your best option is to use safety tassels or inner cord stops. Alternatively, you can cut these cords or secure them up high so that they are out of reach.
Install window guards so that windows cannot be opened more than four inches. That way, little ones won't open them up and fall out. Just be sure that you are able to remove them quickly if necessary in the event that you need to use the window as a fire escape route.
Set the maximum temperature on your water heater to 120 degrees F. That way, the water throughout your house will remain at a safe temperature. This is important since it takes only three seconds for a child so sustain a third degree burn from contact with water that is 140 degrees F.
Smoke And Carbon Monoxide Detectors
These should be installed on every level of your home and near all sleeping areas. This is a good babyproofing practice, but it's also a good safety practice in general.
Small appliances that aren't used frequently should be unplugged. For anything containing batteries, like an alarm clock or remote control, be sure that the batteries are secured and difficult to remove. Batteries can be fatal if ingested.
Do a scan of each room to make sure there are no small objects lying around that could be choking hazards. Babies are natural explorers, and part of exploring includes putting all sorts of things into their mouth.
You might not leave your kids outside unattended, but it's still a good idea to take a few steps to make things as safe as possible.
Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death for 1 - 4 year old children. If you have a pool, it's imperative that you install a five foot high fence around it. The fence should go around all four sides as this reduces the risk of drowning by 83% compared to a three sided fence.
Barbecues can be a fun family activity and a great way to create memories. However, because of the hot temperature, and propane or charcoal, these are also dangerous for kids. Your best bet is to make the area near the grill off limits for young ones.
Shed Or Garage
If you have a shed or garage with a lawn mower or other tools, be sure to install a lock on the door.
Double Check Everything
Babyproofing your home is hard work. Once you get through each room in the house, and feel that everything is safe, take a little time to relax and catch your breath.
Then, go back through each room to do a scan and common sense check. While you might have gone through each item on this list, every home is a little different. So, you will want to make sure each room in your home is safe. It's actually a good idea to go around on your hands and knees, as this will give you the right perspective to see things that your little one might see.
Once you have double checked everything, you should have a little peace of mind. Hopefully, this means you can get back to enjoying parenthood, knowing that you have done your best to create a safe environment for your kids.