When you welcome a new baby to the family, it can be both scary and exciting for the parents, especially if it’s their first time to be responsible for another human being’s life. You may be protective of them when outside the house, but keep in mind that many dangers and hazards are also present within the comforts of your own home.
From fires to drowning to poisoning to burns to choking to falls, kids under the age of four are prone to harming themselves – even more than stranger violence. In fact, 2.3 million kids get into accidental injuries at home every year – more than 2500 of whom die – in the US alone. This is why each room and every area in the home should be babyproofed to keep the kids safe. Below are some pointers that will help you accomplish this.
Electronics and Gadgets
With all the technology that we use now on a daily basis, there are a few gadgets that can help your babyproofing efforts. These may be costly, but if you can afford them, they can be great for your family. These include baby monitors, alarms, and cameras all around the home. Of course, nothing can replace the physical act of watching over your kids, but these can be a godsend during busy days.
Scout and Report
Before starting on babyproofing the whole house, it would be wise to just take a second to look at the whole vicinity of the area and take mental (or real) notes of which should be checked first, what stuff needs to be placed on higher shelves, which areas have electrical outlets – and so on. Medical supplies, supplements, and drugs should be kept out of kids’ reach, as well as household products and cleaning items. Makeup and tiny accessories may be potential hazards, too. Of course, anything with a sharp edge or pointed end need to be taken care of as well.
One of the cute (and sometimes annoying) things that kids do as soon as they can hold their head on their own and start crawling is exactly that – crawling. They crawl wherever there is space to crawl to. This means: under the tables, behind lampposts, corners of the room, etc. They also love sticking their tiny fingers in outlets. So make it a point to protect and cover these outlets, or at least those which they can reach and go to. Mind extension cords, too!
Don’t forget that as the kids grow up and older, their reach grows as well. So over time, more areas will eventually need babyproofing. Once they start walking and climbing, more items and areas will need attention.
Some Fine Furniture
Over 16,000 kids aged 5 and younger in the US had to be taken to the ER because of furniture and fixture-related injuries back in 2006. The hazards came in the form of TV sets, bookshelves, and other large furniture that can tip and fall over. From 2000 to 2006, over 130 kids died from these kinds of accidents.
Your first strategy is to keep such furniture firm against the wall. Make sure to bolt them properly and place them in strategic places where kids can’t climb over them. For closets and china cabinets or similar furniture, place the heavier contents at the most bottom shelves or drawers to keep the topmost parts less likely to be heavier and tip off.
Dining, coffee, and bedside tables or countertops can be dangerous, too, because of sharp edges. Cover these corners and edges with cushion or bumpers so if they must hit them or fall on them, the impact will be minimal.
One Does Not Simply Pass
Gates, at least during their infancy and toddler phase, can be your best friends around the house. Safety gates are a must-have when babyproofing. These can keep them from going to areas they aren’t supposed to – like kitchens, bathrooms, and the stairs. Make sure, though, that the gates are installed properly. Avoid gates that are easily dislodged and out-of-date.
For stairs – use gates that are screwed into the wall for more security. Pressure gates are only good for so long until the kids learn to open them on their own. Above all, look for the JPMA (Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association) seal of approval.
These are just some pointers to help you start your childproofing. You can ask for more detailed steps and guides from your pediatrician. Local health centers also provide help and assistance on these for new parents. We can’t keep our kids from getting into danger or hurting themselves 100% of the time, but we can maybe protect them until they are strong enough to take the blows for themselves – or at least soften up the blow a bit.