How to Babyproof Your House
Once your baby begins to walk, you'll need to keep a close eye on your child to protect your tot from hazards in the home.
The key strategy for safety is adult supervision, says Joel Bass, M.D., a pediatrician in Newton, Mass. "With preschoolers, there should always be an adult looking on," he says.
You should also take steps to "babyproof" your house. The average home contains lots of safety hazards, with the greatest dangers burns, falls on stairways or furniture, and accidental poisonings.
Experts at Safe Kids Worldwide say that the best approach to "baby-proofing" the home is to list potential dangers in each room. Then take steps to eliminate them.
The potential dangers in the kitchen include burns and scalds from the stove, as well as cuts from knives, poisoning from household chemicals often kept under the sink, and choking on small objects. To help eliminate these dangers, store sharp knives behind child-safety locks, cook with pot handles turned toward the back of the stove, lock all medicines and toxic substances away on high shelves, keep the fire extinguisher handy and in good working order, and prominently post emergency phone numbers.
The bathroom dangers include drowning, scalds, falls, and poisoning. To help eliminate the dangers, test your water heater to make sure bath water is no hotter than 120 degrees F. Faucets for showers and tubs are now available that allow a maximum temperature to be set, minimizing the chance that children will be burned. Lock medicines away on high shelves (even those in "child-resistant" packaging). Use non-skid mats or decals on the bottom of the tub, and never leave toddlers unattended in the tub. Small children can drown in an inch of water, and within a few moments.
You might not think of the living room as a dangerous place, but for a toddler, falls can pose a significant risk. You should secure furniture that might tip over (such as a bookcase) to walls by using screws in the studs or by using a toggle bolt, tie up loose electrical cords and cover unused plugs, install safety gates at tops and bottoms of stairways, and cushion sharp furniture edges.
In the bedroom, a toddler faces the dangers of strangulation, suffocation, choking, and falls. To eliminate these risks, remove all toys and stuffed animals from crib, use a "choking tube" (available at toy stores) to test toys (if an object fits through, it's too small and is a choking hazard), remove blinds and drapery cords, and use cribs without corner posts to avoid accidental strangulation.
Online Medical Reviewers:
Fincannon, Joy RN MN
Godsey, Cynthia M.S., M.S.N., APRN
Lesperance, Leann MD
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care.
Always follow your healthcare provider's instructions.