Six Places in Your Home That Need Childproofing
Few things are more exciting than watching your precious bundle of joy lift himself up from all fours onto two feet — and then discover that those two feet can take him places. But now that he’s graduated from crawling to cruising (and perhaps even to walking), your childproofing efforts will literally have to reach new heights.
Sure, it’s easy to pack away your fragile vases and heirloom candlesticks, but let’s face it — you can’t exactly stow away your toilets (a porcelain wishing well!) or remove your stairway (a child-sized climbing wall!). That’s why you’d be wise to childproof your home now — before your toddler’s newfound mobility and skills get him into trouble. Fortunately, with the right childproofing gadgets and maneuvers, you can significantly reduce the odds of bumps, boo-boos, and worse. Check out these areas that require safeguarding:
Corners and edges. The sleek coffee table with the glass top jazzed up the living room décor last year, but now that your toddler is walking, it’s looking more ominous than glamorous. Cushion the table corners and edges with bumpers (available at baby stores) that can soften the impact if your toddler knocks into them. The same bumpers work on any sharp edges throughout the house (such as fireplace hearths and low windowsills).
Hazardous substances. It’s no longer enough to stash antifreeze (looks like green Kool-Aid) or birth-control pills (candy!) on high shelves, especially if your toddler has the climbing skills of a little monkey. Store these and other household products (such as cleaning supplies, medications, and alcohol) in locked cabinets.
Stairs and doorways. Keep your wobbly walking tot from stairways by installing sturdy safety gates at the top of the stairs and at the bottom. (Consider putting the lower gate three steps from the bottom, so your child has a small area to practice stair-climbing skills.) Seal off high-hazard rooms such as the bathroom (which contains water dangers and electrical appliances like hair dryers) and the office (which may have computer wires and staplers) with hard-to-turn plastic doorknob covers (you can find them at baby stores or hardware stores). Or install a lock high above your child’s reach.
Windows. Make sure your child can’t take a tumble out the window by installing metal window guards that screw into the sides of the window frame and have bars no more than four inches apart. If you have blinds, it’s vital to keep the cords (which are strangulation hazards) out of your toddler’s reach. For information on how to shorten and secure cords, check out www.windowcoverings.org. Better yet, consider cordless window coverings — especially in your child’s room. (It’s not too late to put those finishing touches on the nursery!)
Hot spots. When your little guy started crawling, one of the first things you probably did was cover your electrical outlets (“Hey, those holes fit my fingers!”). But now that he’s cruising or walking, you need to guard against electrical appliances and burns on a new level. For instance, in the kitchen, use knob covers on the stove to block your toddler from turning on burners. And while you cook, use back burners whenever possible. If you have to use the front burners, turn cookware handles away from the front of the stove, so your child can’t reach up and grab them. Other items you want to make sure your toddler doesn’t grab? Electrical gadgets on counters. So be sure to keep appliances (like the toaster and food processor in the kitchen, and the hair dryer and curling iron in the bathroom) away from the edge of counters so that they’re beyond your toddler’s grasp.
Standing water. To your child, a toilet looks like a tiny pool or a dumping ground for found objects. Ban him from the porcelain bowl — and preserve your plumbing — with a plastic safety latch. Just make sure to teach guests how to open it, too.
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