As the proud father of a handsome little man, I understand how important it is to keep my son safe. Kids are naturally curious, which is one of the reasons they’re so beautifully endearing to be around: They see everything in the world as new and interesting. Unfortunately, that same curiosity when combined with their innate naivety can spell disaster under the wrong circumstances. Even the best parents can’t have their eyes fixed on their children 24/7, and it only takes a moment of inattention for a young child to do something dangerous.
We like to think our children are safe at home. Our homes are our havens, where we go to get away from the stresses and complexities of the outside world. Unfortunately, the same items that make our homes comfortable to live in can make them dangerous for children. Laundry detergent packs may look like candy to a small child. Area rugs are tripping hazards. Cords may be chewed through and cause electric shock.
With all the ways your child could get hurt every day, it’s easy to want to lock them in a padded room until they turn eighteen. Instead of becoming a helicopter parent, afraid of letting your children play alone in a room or discover their independence, limit risks in your home by looking at things from a child’s perspective. This babyproofing checklist will get you on the right track!
Plugs, Locks, and Baby Gates
These days there are countless items on the market to help you in your babyproofing endeavors. Equipping your home with the basics in child safety includes adding child safety locks to your cabinets, toilet seat locks to your toilets, and plugs to your outlets. There are also knob protectors which can make it more difficult for small children to open doors, ensuring you don’t have to worry about them finding their way outdoors or into the basement when you’re looking away. Curtain strings can—and should—be protected as well as they can be a choking hazard.
These days, having essential baby safety equipment is the very first step new parents should take when babyproofing their homes. Keep in mind that even if you have all of the commercial baby safety equipment in place, there’s still work to be done to ensure your home is a safe environment for your children.
Baby gates are a great investment and can help your cordon off areas in your home that you don’t want your children in or that are particularly hard to childproof. Depending on your home’s layout, this may include stairs, fireplaces, and wood stoves, all of which can pose a danger to children. As your children grow older and are better able to understand phrased like “wood stoves are hot” you can begin to remove these gates.
Organization is Key
Back when you were single and had no kids, it was perfectly all right for you to toss your wallet on the counter or leave your dishes on the coffee table while finishing the show you were watching. Now, these everyday gestures can be dangerous. Your toddler may decide to reach for the “toys” you were playing with a moment ago and come back with a steak knife clenched in their tiny fist, or they may dig through your wallet and swallow a few coins.
As a parent, organization and cleanliness are two important jobs. Keeping valet trays in important locations, such as just inside the front door, can help you remember to keep things like keys, wallets, and cell phones safely out of reach.
Do you remember the last time you cleaned out your couch cushions? Chances are, you found more than just a bit of dust in there. Small items such as spare change, dropped pills, and long-lost thumb tacks often find their way into our houses nooks and crannies. We may look for them for a few minutes and then forget they were lost at all.
While we may not dig through our couch cushions looking for treasure, chances are that our children have no such qualms. These little forgotten items will quickly be located by small fingers. That’s why it’s important to thoroughly clean your house regularly to ensure that items you don’t want your kids to get their hands on aren’t within reach.
Keep Guests Alert
You may be in tune with your child’s needs and your concerns for their safety, but chances are these same issues are not at the forefront of your visitors’ minds. For example, a visiting woman may drop her purse on the bar stool without thinking about the bottle of Motrin she has stored inside. Don’t be afraid to set standards for your guests when they come to your house, whether that be that all bags have to be hung on the hook in the hall or that they have to wash their hands before playing with your baby. Chances are that once you explain that your request is to keep your child safe, they’ll be more than willing to comply.