Sunday, November 13, 2016

10 Steps to Baby Proofing Your House

It's easy to baby-proof for a newborn - you pretty much just need to worry about where they sleep.

But before you hardly blink, your baby is scooting, then crawling, then pulling themselves up, then walking! All sorts of trouble ensues. Simple everyday things become choking hazards, pinching hazards, crushing hazards, a source for cuts and other wounds. It's quite scary!

Never fear - the key is to 'stay ahead of the curve'. When baby starts to crawl, you'll want to contain them to safe spaces and remove choking hazards from their reach. When they start to pull themselves up and gain dexterity, you'll want to watch for sharp corners, reduce pinching hazards, protect electrical outlets, and make sure there are no crushing hazards (tall bookcases, for example, should be attached to the wall).

copyright Michael Hawk
And when they suddenly walk - look out! Actually, by this stage you should be in pretty good shape if you've kept up.

When you go to the baby stores you'll find all sorts of crazy baby safety items. They market to our fears - if there is something you *can* do to protect your baby, you should - just imagine how you'd feel if something tragic did happen?

Of course, there is a happy medium - and nothing replaces watchful, vigilant adult supervision.

But remember - every house is different. For example, we were able to easily gate off the kitchen - one of the most dangerous areas of a house. But this can be difficult with some floorplans, meaning you'll need other precautions.

Anyway, here we go...

10 Steps to Babyproof Your House

  1. Remove choking hazards. Babies love to stick things in their mouth - this is a basic way babies start to learn about the world. Make sure you don't have cat toys, older children's toys, knick-knacks sitting on tables. Crawl around on your hands and knees and see what you can find. And don't forget to check any drawers that may be within reach of baby.
  2. Remove pinching hazards. This is a hard one because there are so many! For example, spring-type door stops should be replaced with solid ones. We had a coffee table with lots of drawers - I simply removed the handles to make it difficult to open. Step trashcans are very dangerous - move them. The step is a major pinching hazard, and if they are stainless steel they are baby magnets - they love to see their reflection.
  3. Contain the chaos with gates. Baby gates are a great investment - just make sure you can install them securely! Some are pressure-mounted, others can be mounted with screws. The choice really depends on the surface you are mounting them to. For example, if you are mounting to a slick surface like polished wood, pressure mount probably won't hold.
  4. Protect Electrical Outlets. There are lots of different styles of outlet plugs. Some are just basic plastic plugs, others have a small button you must push to release them. My experience is that the basic ones are good enough.
  5. Cover plugged in items. Blocking unused electrical outlets is easy - but what if you are actually using them? First, hide electrical cords (and any other wires) as best as possible. Get a cover such as the one pictured below. And if you can cover power strips, too.
  6. Contain the chaos with door knob covers. Door knob covers can help keep baby from getting into closets, bathrooms, or out the front door! 
  7. Prevent tipping/crushing hazards. Babies love to pull themselves up on anything they can reach - bookshelves, TV stands, etc. Often, these items are top-heavy and even the weight of a baby can pull them over. Attach them to the walls with safety straps - a double good idea in earthquake country. Make sure to secure your TV, too.
  8. Secure your kitchen. If you can't keep baby out with a baby gate, or if you want an extra layer of security, consider cabinet locks and . You can get magnetic key cabinet locks, or cheaper but harder to install plastic ones. An oven lock may also be a good idea. And always keep panhandles pointed in (away from where a toddler may grab it). Consider a lock for the refrigerator as well.
  9. Soften those corners. When baby starts to pull herself up and walk, you'll want to be extra careful with hard, sharp corners on furniture. There are many corner protectors for different applications. 
  10. And all of the other things. Even with protection in place you want to make sure you reduce risk. Move cleaning chemicals out of reach of baby - don't just rely on a cabinet lock. Move glass items elsewhere. Keep tall lamps or other items out of reach - behind furniture or in other rooms. Keep dangling chords on curtains or blinds tied up and out of reach. Consider a 'defense in depth' strategy. For example, even if you bathroom door has a handle cover on it, someone may forget, so lock those cabinets as well, and consider a toilet lid lock.

Remember the old saying - security is the inverse of convenience. Keep this in mind, and remind yourself that it is only for a short while.


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