According to the CDC, around 2.3 million children are accidentally injured, with more than 2,500 killed each year. Children between the ages of 1 to 4 are more likely to be killed by an accident in the home than by a stranger’s violence. Childproofing your home can be a very important measure to make sure that those little hands and feet stay safe and secure, and allow you to live stress-free while your little ones roam around the house.
Biggest Risks to Childproof in Your Home:
1.) Electrical Outlets
Babies like to stick their fingers in everything, and I really do mean everything. Right now, I have a 3-and-a-half year old and a 9-month old baby. Just yesterday, I was visiting a neighbor and eating birthday cake when I looked over to see my 9-month old propped up against the wall, about to stick his finger (which was already covered in dirt from her houseplant nearby) in her unprotected electrical sockets. I’ve never moved so fast in my life!
This is probably one of the risks that is easiest to spot, and most people know that it’s common sense to cover those outlets. Here is my son with his favorite toy, my phone charger:
You can buy specialized socket covers at many retailers like Target, Walmart, Babies-r-us, or similar. In lieu of that, you can actually just stick a nice piece of tape over the outlet for most children under 1-year old. They can’t really manage to peel it off. For older children, the socket covers are better (sometimes even I have a hard time getting them off to plug in the vacuum cleaner!).
Another hazard with electricity in the home are power cords- tidy them up as best you can. Power cord covers are available for relatively cheap at Home Depot and other home improvement stores.
The third would be to childproof any power strips- hide ’em! You can slip them behind and under furniture, and make them inaccessible to your little one. You can purchase covers for these too, or there are some other creative options out there (I’ve seen them inside boxes, duct taped around, etc) but realistically, ain’t nobody got time for that.
2.) Dangerous Areas
Toddlers and babies are top-heavy, and can easily topple over without much provocation. Stairs can be dangerous to children, as well as areas that have lots of level changes. Some people prefer to keep babies out of dangerous areas like the kitchen and the bathroom- everyone’s level of comfort is different. The most common thing we see to childproof these areas are the ubiquitous baby gates. The good thing is, there are a variety of different gates that you can put up to keep your kids from falling down the stairs, or going into areas that are not safe.
The store bought gate:
The DIY gate:
Some other options to childproof stairs:
I live in a multi-unit building currently, and the kids’ bedroom window is on the fourth floor. The windows are huge, beautiful, and let in a great amount of light with a lovely breeze. In fact, the light and breeze are one of the reasons we chose the location we did. However, my perspective on these beautiful, low, windows really changed when I came home to my (at the time) 2-year old son using the window sill as a balance beam, with his hand on the window to steady himself. Heart attack!
A screen is not strong enough to keep a kid from falling.
You can partially childproof the window with furniture, but there is still a risk of monkey-children like mine climbing up the furniture and then reaching the window.
The easiest and most cost effective way to childproof a window is to open it window to 3-4″ and place a pushpin in the window track, so that the window cannot open any further. Nails aren’t an ideal choice because in a fire you want to be able to use the window as an escape. They also sell special fasteners at the store that you can put to do this.
4.) Things that Topple
TVs are often the biggest risks, or larger appliances that sit on top of another surface. My best advice is to mount your TV on the wall, at a height your child can’t reach. Most TVs these days are flat-screen. If for some reason you don’t have a flat screen and are living in the stone age, you should affix your TV to its surface in a way that keeps it steady, like shown here:
I think most people have heard about the IKEA scandal where their dressers were falling over on the children who climb them, and killing them. Most furniture is pretty heavy, and most children don’t always listen to “don’t climb the furniture”. Do yourself a favor, and mount your heavy furniture to the walls to childproof it, even if your child isn’t old enough to climb them yet. You don’t want to take this risk.
5. Choking Hazards
My 9-month old puts everything in his mouth. I really mean everything. Last night alone, I stopped him from eating a shoe, a 2 week (at least) old cheerio, a phone charger, and a bottle cap… and those are only the things I remember. The struggle is real. A great rule of thumb is that if you can fit it in the end of a toilet paper role, it’s too small to be within reach of a baby. Even if they can’t, you might want to watch things that are dirty like shoes. Or brooms. Or the track of your sliding glass door (vacuum that out!).
Here is my son, literally about to eat a handful of straight up dirt:
Do a sweep of each room, moving things out of reach that would fit within a toilet paper role. Great options: wall mounted childproof shelves above 5′ tall.
6.) Poison & Chemicals
I think I mentioned that my baby puts everything in his mouth, but my 3.5-year old thinks everything is soda. Windex, in its beautiful blue color, looks particularly appealing to him. Cleaning supplies are a huge risk to children.
Another appealing item: detergent pods. They look like candy.
Yet more: prescription drugs and alcohol.
Cabinet locks are great tools for a parent looking to childproof his or her home.
So are cabinets that little hands can’t reach, like the one that usually goes above a refrigerator.
Bar carts are oh-so-trendy and beautiful, but think about storing the liquor somewhere out of reach when not in use.
Babies and children are awesome, but they need an extra level of vigilance around the home. Hopefully some of these tips can help you keep those little hands and feet safe from everyday hazards of modern living!
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