– By Allison
That little bundle of joy has mastered rolling over and is now beginning to crawl – time to reassess your surroundings and determine what needs to be removed, locked up or softened.
“Always make sure you are keeping the child at the center of your plans for a safer environment,” said Maria D., Sheboygan, Wis.
Some obvious places to start are placing child-proof locks on cabinets that have chemicals or potentially poisonous items, removing breakables from low tables and placing sturdy baby gates at the top and bottom of stairs.
“Get down on your baby’s level. Crawl around and pick up any little toys (if you have older siblings), get rid of any cords that the child could pull on. If there is something that is valuable, put it away,” advised Laura D., Richmond, Va. “Keep cribs away from windows so baby can’t reach blinds, cords, curtains, etc. And never, ever leave baby alone in the tub. The best baby proofing is constant vigilance.”
Maria went about child proofing her home while also providing the children access to things like pots and pans and Tupperware, items the children could have fun playing with, but wouldn’t be harmful.
“I feel that latching everything up makes them feel unwanted and un-respected,” said Maria. “It's important for children to feel like they have some control and that they are wanted - especially in a room as frequented as the kitchen.” Stoves can be dangerous to children. Stove guards help keep wandering hands from touching hot stoves or pans.
Corners cushions can help soften sharp edges on furniture like end tables and coffee tables. Hearth padding is also available.
Then there some of the not-so-obvious spots, like the refrigerator or toilet – and yes, locks are made for those too!
Nathan and Melanie P., Sheboygan, Wis., utilized a fridge lock to minimize milk spills when an ambitious young child wanted to serve himself while Mom and Dad were in another room.
“Cabinet and drawer locks were annoying to us as parents and no fun for the kids. It is fun to see them try to play house with pots and pans, but no so much fun to find a full bottle of juice spilled across the kitchen floor,” Nathan said.
Melanie added, “Always make sure that if you have an independent-minded child, you have locks at the TOP of the door (or at least out of reach), or you may end up finding out that your child is perfectly capable of escaping, even when you locked the door and thought she/he was too young to unlock it.”
Toddlers have creative minds and when they realize where a certain prized possession is kept, it may take more than just putting something out of reach to keep a determined child from getting what she wants.
“I remember a certain three-year-old pulling a chair up to the counter proceeding to climb up to the cabinet six-feet up to get out the cookies, and then laughing about it,” Nathan said.
Tammy M., Sheboygan, Wis., had a climber as well. “I ended up having to bungee cord the chairs to the dining room table,” she said.
Rechecking your secure areas is also a good idea. Maria discovered that her daughter could pull electric outlet covers off, but was vigilant about checking for safety and also providing added areas of interest for her daughter.
“Ensure that there is enough available for your child to explore and play with and change things around frequently to keep their interest,” said Maria. “It takes time on the part of the parent, but I think it really, really, really helps keep the child developing cognitively and in the areas of fine and gross motor.”
There are so many options of how to maximize safety in your home. But the most important, is to be vigilant, alert and careful. You are your child’s best protector.
What to child proof? Here’s a list to help you out. Other places to get ideas would be your pediatrician’s office and fellow moms and friends.
• Faucet cover for the bathroom tub
• Safety gates to block stairs
• Tuck away cords for blinds
• Lock away all poisons/chemicals/medications
• Turn down the water heater so the water isn’t too hot
• Always check bath temperature before putting the child in
• Cover all outlets with plug covers
• Place a gate around a fireplace to keep children out
• Toilet lock
• Refrigerator lock
• Oven lock
• Stove guard
• Keep cable/electrical cords tucked up and out of reach
• Hook and eye locks at top of screen doors to keep little hands from opening the doors (also may be useful for inside your bedroom for some privacy)
• Pack away crystal or other breakables until the child is a little older
• Consider securing dressers and bookshelves to keep them from falling on an ambitious toddler
• Keep car doors locked even when home; prevents curious child from getting locked inside on a hot summer’s day (or freezing winter day)