Bringing home your baby is an exciting and momentous occasion. For many new parents, however, there are also a number of fears wrapped up in the prospect, mainly the fear of making a mistake that causes harm to this perfect little person you are now responsible for.
You’re not the first parent to feel this way and you certainly won’t be the last. That said, the average home is full of hazards for babies and toddlers that will be exploring their new world with little notion of what happens when you ingest cleaning solvents or when you stick a metal object in a power outlet. As a responsible and experienced adult, it is your job to protect children from these dangers, and this means childproofing your home.
The place to start is by getting down to baby or toddler level to look for hazards. What you’re sure to spot quite quickly from this vantage point is a lot of sharp edges, outlets, and tall furniture that could topple if a small person was, say, trying to climb it. Don’t forget the objects on top of the furniture that could topple off. Then there are cabinet doors, stairwells, and even low windows to worry about. From a baby’s perspective, your home might start to look like a labyrinth full of booby traps.
The good news is, you now have some idea of the dangers to your child and you can start to baby proof your home. Here are the basics of making your home safe for children from the moment you bring them home until they’re big enough to know better.
A tumble down a staircase could be catastrophic, as could a fall through an open window, so your first order of business is to start looking for advice on picking the best baby gates and window guards for your home. These essential protective measures need to be sturdy and anchor firmly in place to prevent babies and toddlers from accessing areas that could prove fatal.
The good news is that you can find plenty of options to choose from, including baby gates that feature conveniences like built-in, locking doorways that can swing open so you don’t have to hurt yourself trying to climb over the top. If you live in a house with stairs or low windows, you cannot afford to exclude these essential safety items.
You don’t have to worry too much about what you keep in your cabinets because you can read safety labels and you’re well aware of what you shouldn’t ingest. Babies and toddlers are not on the same page, so you need to keep them away from cleaning solvents, medications, and potentially harmful items like pots, pans, and utensils in cabinets and drawers.
The best way to do this is by installing latches, or even locks. Interior latches will hold cabinet doors and drawers closed when babies and toddlers experimentally tug on them or use them to pull up to a standing position. As for clever and curious toddlers that figure out how to open the latches, you can add locking mechanisms to cabinets that are used to store cleaning chemicals, medications, and other toxic and hazardous items.
Generally speaking, the furniture isn’t going to pose a serious risk to small babies that spend most of their time lying on their backs. When babies begin to crawl, climb, stand, and walk, however, you need to think about how sturdy your furniture is and whether or not it could fall and land on your child.
Furniture straps can be added to any items in peril of falling on your babe, including TV stands, end tables, bookshelves, dressers, and so on. You should also secure items on top. Large, heavy objects like television monitors often feature a place to hook a furniture strap to the wall. As for lamps, photos, and other knickknacks, you’ll want to use Velcro or double-sided tape to hold these items in place when toddlers shake the furniture as they try to climb.
Many parents worry about babies running into the sharp edges of furniture or corners in the house. You might want to start by changing up some of your furniture before you bring home baby, but you can also purchase a variety of foam or rubber edging materials to place on sharp corners. It’s not entirely possible to stop toddlers from taking spills and getting bumps and bruises – it’s all part of the process of learning to walk. You can, however, use bumpers to prevent serious wounds.
This is a biggie. Many outlets are right at baby and toddler level, and they’re almost certainly a curiosity that small children will want to explore. Plastic outlet covers are cheap, they’re readily available at any hardware store, and they’re easy to pop into place. They will stop your child from sticking fingers, tongues, or foreign objects into outlets and get electrocuted in the process. There is no reason not to have them in every unused outlet in your home.
Reset Your Water Heater
Babies have sensitive skin and they rely on adults for bathing, which means you have to be extremely careful not to place them in scalding water. The easiest way to ensure this is to reset the temperature on your water heater.
For safety purposes, you should never set the temperature on your water heater above 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This is for your own safety as much as your child’s. Anyone could be scalded at higher temps. When drawing a bath for a baby or toddler, a temperature of around 100 degrees is ideal and you can get a floating bath thermometer to be sure.
It’s not easy to spot every hazard in your home when you’re trying to protect your infant or toddler from harm, but there are plenty of parents who have done it before you, and you can learn a lot from their mistakes. When you understand the basics of childproofing your home, you have the best opportunity to keep your child safe and avoid the most common accidents and injuries.