You have probably heard that you need to “baby-proof” your home when a baby or small child is around, but you may not know where to start, or exactly how to do it. Here are some tips.
Think Like a Baby
Do a survey of your home and think like a baby. Carry a notebook with you and think about what you could open, fall into, knock down, or climb up if you were less than three or four feet tall. Look for small objects that could fit in baby’s mouth. Note these things in your notebook and use that to make your list of baby-proofing items. As you go through your house, keep the following tips in mind.
One of the most dangerous things in the home is hot tap water. Babies can get scalded with hot tap water and sustain serious burns. Doctors and other professionals recommend turning down the temperature on your home’s water heater so that it’s no hotter than 120 degrees F (even 110 is said to be okay – the washing machine and dishwasher should still get clothes clean).
Baby-proof locks can be purchased and installed for little money and with relative ease (a screwdriver is usually all you need). Lock any cabinets that are at floor level, and go ahead and secure higher cabinets (like those above the kitchen counter or the medicine cabinet in your bathroom) – babies can learn to climb at amazingly early ages and catch you off guard.
Even with the cabinet locks, it’s not a good idea to store household cleaners, chemicals, soaps, medications, etc. in any low cabinet. After all, baby-proof locks are not foolproof (someone in the home may forget to shut it and lock it all the way, or your baby may learn to work the locks open).
Garbage can locks can also be purchased and installed, and are recommended for baby-proofing your home. Garbage is not only gross; it can also contain dangerous items and babies can fall into the can itself.
Babies love water, but toilets can pose a danger if your baby falls head-first into one. The same is true of buckets of water – a good rule of thumb is to never leave any large open container of water on the floor. You can install a toilet lid lock to minimize the danger posed by the toilet.
Small and Breakable Objects
Refrigerator magnets, knick-knacks, rock collections, bowls of holiday nuts etc. – you name it, babies can swallow it or choke on it. Remove all such objects from baby’s reach, and keep them in a sealed box or bag out of reach. (You can always get those beloved items out again when your baby is older.)
Case Freezers and Coolers
These household items can entrap a baby or hurt him if he falls in and the lid closes, or if the lid slams shut on his fingers. Keep case freezers locked, and store coolers lid-side-down.
Dressers and Bureaus
These can also be secured with store-bought locks (adhesive ones are available if you don’t want to install screws and hardware into your furniture). When your baby opens drawers and pulls out all the items, it’s not only annoying; it’s the first step on your baby’s way up the dresser – he can learn to pull out the drawers and use them as stair-steps as soon as he learns to walk!
Install plastic plug covers for your outlets.