The world is a new, exciting place to little ones; objects in your home present exploration opportunities, some safe, some not. Follow these steps to baby proof and childproof your home to keep your children safe as they learn and grow.
1. Explore the house from your child’s perspective. Before you start the childproofing process, view your house as your child does. Place all fragile and potentially dangerous objects out of reach.
2. Purchase childproofing products. Many products are available to childproof your home. Consider purchasing some of these items:
• Doorknob covers: These special covers require coordination to open doors that little hands have not yet developed. Put these covers on all exterior doors as well as doors into rooms that you haven’t childproofed.
• Gates: Block rooms and stairs by installing baby gates. Make sure gates covering the stairs are screwed into the wall and not just held by pressure to ensure they stay in place.
• Power outlet plates with sliding covers: Keep little fingers out of electrical sockets with these special plates rather than the old plastic inserts, which can be removed and are choking hazards.
• Cabinet locks: Keep children out of cabinets that contain dishes, silverware or cleaning agents by installing locks.
• Appliance latches: Prevent them from opening the oven, refrigerator or dishwasher.
• Bumpers for tables and fireplace hearths: Despite your warnings to not run in the house, they inevitably will. Cover these corners with rubber bumpers to reduce the risk of injury.
• Toilet lock: Children can drown in only a few inches of water. These devices prevent an exploring child from falling in.
3. Keep all cords out of reach. If you have floor-length blinds or window treatments with cords close to cribs and other furniture, shorten them so they aren’t accessible to your children. Cut through any looping cords.
4. Keep pots and pans out of reach. Use the back burners and turn the pot handles in so little ones can’t reach up and pull their hot contents down.
5. Store cleaning products and medicine bottles out of reach. While most medicine bottles have childproof caps, not all do, and even those may fail at times. Cleaning products also contain dangerous chemicals.
6. Turn your water heater to no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Reduce the risk of scalding by lowering the temperature of the water in your home. However, you should always test the water before putting a child into a bath or washing his hands. Test the water with your wrist, which is more sensitive than your hands.
7. Secure top-heavy furniture. Toddlers who are starting to crawl and climb may try to scale bookshelves or TV stands. Bolt these to the wall, rearrange them to put the weight at the bottom or get rid of the furniture altogether if it can’t be made more secure.
8. Get rid of poisonous houseplants. Children love to explore with their mouths, so don’t keep aloe plants, poinsettias or other poisonous greenery around.
9. Move floor lamps behind larger pieces of furniture. These can easily be knocked over, leaving a lot of broken glass. Additionally, if the lamp has decorative shelves or features, children may be tempted to climb them or play with them.
10. Keep a close eye on the floor. Your baby spends a lot of time playing and crawling on the floor. Vacuum or sweep regularly to pick up coins, pins or other small objects that could be choking hazards.
Review your childproofing efforts every few months to ensure they remain effective as your child learns and grows. For example, gates that once kept your crawler out of a room may now be tempting to climb.