12 Childproofing Tips for the New Year
Successful childproofing provides both safety for the child and peace of mind for the parents. It starts with an honest understanding that our adult world is designed around convenience and as every parent knows, babies are not convenient. However, with a little due diligence or professional assistance you can add safety and reduce stress, creating a happier home for all.
The following are 12 steps to help you on your way:
- Plan ahead, safety precautions that may seem adequate for a crawling 8-month-old can be inadequate for a walking 14-month-old who can likely reach more hazards.
- Gates - the biggest childproofing misstep I find in homes is the use of a pressure gate at the top of stairs. The best solution is to install a hardware-mounted gate for safety, function, and durability. Mounted gates are often the best solution for the bottom of stairs too. Take special care to attach the gate to studs in the walls. If needed, use a gate mounting kit for uneven or irregular surfaces (i.e. banister post). Also, gates need to be installed less than 3 inches from the floor (check the instructions). Installations above most baseboard moldings will not be safe.
- In the kitchen, a simple and effective step is to make it the most boring space in the home for young children, especially around the stove top and sink. This can be accomplished with latches and discouraging play in the kitchen. A good strategy is to treat anything to be used in the process of cooking as a tool not a toy. The fun wooden spoon that you might have grown up playing with is not a toy when it is sticking out of a pot of boiling pasta sauce.
- I recommend magnetic cabinet latches for securing cabinet doors and drawers. Magnetic latches completely deny access and eliminate pinching concerns. It may take a day or two to get used to them, but the long-term benefit is worth it.
- Adjust the hot water to a temperature of 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Children’s skin is thinner than adults which makes them more susceptible to burns. Often this adjustment can be made with a simple twist of a dial on the hot water heater.
- Secure furniture and TVs! This is an often overlooked home hazard. Sometimes, families think about securing bookcases but dressers, other furniture and TVs are also a serious hazard. Please make sure to attach furniture and TV anchors to studs in the wall.
- Place the baby monitor and cords more than 3 feet away from the crib.
- Close bedroom doors while sleeping. This step can greatly slow the spread of a fire and provide clean air allowing more time to escape the home.
- Create a fire escape plan. Everyone knows they are supposed to, but no one does.
- Visit https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls to sign up for free email alerts about child product recalls.
- After the holidays is a great time for cleaning out your cabinets and closets. Review and revise storage habits, especially under the kitchen sink, bathroom cabinets and in linen closets. For more information visit, http://upandaway.org/
- Secure blind cords. Ideally, every home would have cordless blinds. When that is not an option you should install blind cord cleats to keep the cords out of reach of children but please understand that a blind cord is a hazard.
Parenting is hard work. Just about the time you get accustomed to your baby's routine, it changes. For most parents it has been a long time since they have become taller, stronger, faster and smarter. However, that is almost a daily reality for our children. Taking some prudent precautions around the home can have any family well positioned for the crawling baby of today and the curious exploring toddler of tomorrow.
Peter Kerin is the owner of Foresight Childproofing and provides professional childproofing services to families and caregivers in Minnesota. He is an Advanced Certified Professional Childproofer and a member of the International Association for Child Safety (IAFCS), an organization of childproofing and safety professionals who are dedicated to increasing safety awareness and preventing childhood injuries. Peter also serves on their board.