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Batten Down the Hatches – A Guide to Child Proofing Your Home
As a conscientious new parent, you may have already proofed your home before baby came home from the hospital, even though you were well aware that he wouldn’t be crawling and crawling for many months.
If not, when baby gets a little mobile, you need to have your home ready for him to explore. And for those parents who think they have their home child-proofed, it’s always a good idea to give it a second look to assess any risks you may have overlooked. As a general rule, the entire home should be childproofed, although some parents choose to confine their babies to a specific area of the home only through the use of baby gates, and that’s fine too.
Just make sure the areas the child has access to are safe.
Get down on Their Level
The first step to effectively childproofing your home is to view your home from the child’s eye level. This means getting down on the floor and crawling and thinking like children think. There are professional consultants who know how to do this for you, but most people are able to identify areas of the home that have safety concerns for babies, toddlers and small children.
The most common hazards you will find in your home that should be corrected include:
– Electrical outlets. Great for tucking little fingers in – and usually set at the perfect height for baby starting to pull himself up. This is a simple fix; simply install the plastic inserts that cover the holes when not in use, or replace the outlet with one that snaps shut when a plug is disconnected.
– Cords for drapes and curtains. There has been a lot of attention given to this common problem recently. A baby can accidentally hang himself or strangle himself from the cords to your curtains and blinds. Shorten the cord or use cords – or better yet, don’t use curtains or draperies with cords.
– Electric cords. Lamp cords and other stray cords pose an electrical and burn risk when babies or children bite them. Children can also pull the string and bring the object it is attached to, falling on them. Put them away and out of reach.
– Stairs. This is a no-brainer. Crawling baby meets stairs = recipe for disaster. Use a locking gate to block the access the child has to stairs.
– Sharp edges or corners. Many new parents just give up on using a coffee table until the kids are older, but you can also use corner protectors to protect against little heads hitting sharp corners and getting hurt.
– Windows. All second floor windows should have guards installed.
– Plants. Did you know that just one philodendron leaf can be fatal to a child? Many houseplants are poisonous. Be safe and keep all your plants in a limited area away from the child.
– Fire. Install smoke detectors in every bedroom in the home and in common areas and hallways – and test the batteries regularly.
– Carbon monoxide. Install carbon monoxide detectors on every floor of the home.
– Firearms. If you have a gun, keep it in a locked place, and lock up any ammunition for the gun in a separate place.
– Hot water. Make sure the temperature of your hot water is less than 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
– Restrooms. Heaviest children can easily fall into the toilet and drown, but a toilet lock stops this problem. It’s best to make bathrooms off-limits for exploring toddlers because there’s so much room for danger in the bathroom in general, not to mention germs.
– Under the sink. Be sure to remove all of your cleaning supplies from under the sink and install cabinet locks on your cabinets.
These are just some of the considerations you should make when childproofing your home. By looking at everything in your home that is accessible to the child from the child’s perspective, you will be able to spot additional dangers.
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