Last year, there were approximately 3.6 million babies born in the United States. Imagine all those future parents dreaming of meeting their new bundle of joy.
They’re spending time imagining what their child will look like, what name to give them, even how to decorate their room.
Probably more than a few parents fall into the trap of thinking their baby won’t move much so they can put off childproofing their home. The extent of your home improvement for most new parents involves painting the nursery and assembling the crib.
If you’re like many parents, you assume you have plenty of time for childproofing your home. Yet, once your new bundle of joy arrives, life gets extra exciting, and dare we say, crazy. It might be wise to think about the childproofing you need as part of your baby prep.
If you already have little ones in your home, it’s never too soon to start the process of looking for potential hazards and getting started. Read on to learn what you need to know to childproof your home.
Start With the Basics
When you realize that accidents in the home are the number one cause of death for children, you realize even more the significance of childproofing in the home.
So, as you begin to consider childproofing in the home, start with the basics. Often these are the things that can prevent the worst accidents from happening.
In basic safety measures, make sure you have a smoke detection device on every floor of your home, so you have fire prevention measures in place. Also, make sure you have carbon monoxide detectors in place near the rooms where you sleep.
While it’s nice to have good hot water coming from your shower or bath, you want to be careful it couldn’t cause a burn. Set your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
You also want to consider door knobs throughout the home. Are there doors that could lead your child to a potential risk? If so, put doorknob covers on the doorknob so the child can’t independently open them.
Developmental Stages of Child Proofing
The dangerous items for young children are often different from a tiny baby who’s just starting to move.
You might think a baby doesn’t really move, so how much is there to worry about. Yet, you want to be thinking all the time about safety. Don’t place your baby on a bed or sofa where they could potentially roll off.
Many experts are now even recommending a baby breathing and movement monitor. These monitors often wrap on a newborn’s foot and can alert parents if the infant’s oxygen levels drop.
Your immobile baby will be moving before you know it. Once they are able to move independently, you must really make sure your home has childproof measures in place.
Basic Home Safety
There are some basic home safety things to do throughout your home that can act to help keep your child safe. These are things you should likely check for in every room of your home.
Let’s take a look at the basic home safety measures you should take throughout your home.
Electrical outlets pose a great risk for little ones, especially because they are typically right at their eye level. To a young child who sees an opening, it’s an opportunity to explore, and often, kids try to shove other objects into the outlets. The potential for burns, respiratory problems, cardiac arrest, or even death can occur when children mess with electrical outlets.
While you likely have electrical outlets throughout your home, this is an easy safety fix. Most people prefer to use outlet covers. These are small plastic devices that insert into the outlet and keep your child from reaching the electricity. The outlet covers fit in tightly and aren’t all that easy to remove, which keeps little hands out of danger.
If you have a little older child who’s inclined to mess with electrical outlets, you can also get box outlet covers. This is a small box that fits right over the entire outlet, preventing them from even seeing the outlet.
Another important safety measure is installing safety gates or baby gates in spots that pose a potential risk. Sometimes baby gates get used to prevent a fall, like near stairs. Other times, they prevent a child from entering a space that poses a risk to them.
Some places to consider baby gates includes:
- Top of the stairs
- Bottom of the stairs
- Doors to laundry areas
- Pantries without doors
- Home offices with cords and technology that’s attractive to young minds
- Fireplace areas
- Hallways near stairs or balcony areas
Most experts suggest using gates that secure onto the walls versus tension gates as they are safer. Tension gates can move with enough pressure placed on them.
Doors into or out of certain places in your home pose a risk. So, do cabinets and drawers in your home have a potential risk. In most cases, this will involve cabinets in your kitchen, bathrooms, and laundry room.
You’ll want to think about what’s in cabinets and whether what’s in there is a risk. You need to secure cabinet doors. You can do that two ways, either through an interior door lock or a lock on the outside of the cabinet.
The interior locks are nice because they aren’t visible, although they do become slightly less effective over time. Exterior locks remain secure but are visible and need to be removed every time you access the cabinet. You also need to make sure you put them back on securely every time.
Another area of your home that can be a concern is table edges that are sharp and pointed. These can be particularly dangerous for little ones who are just starting to move around.
You can buy covers to protect the corners, so they aren’t as sharp and provide less risk.
Windows offer several risks for mobile children. You need to make sure there is no way a child could fall from the window. You can install window guards that lock in place and prevent the child from pushing out a screen and falling from the window. You want to make sure they are strong enough to withstand the inevitable pushing from a small child.
The other concern with windows is window coverings. Often windows have window blinds that come with strings that pose a serious choking risk for babies and small children. If possible, change out your window blinds to a newer cordless version. If that isn’t possible, then you want to buy cord holders that secure the cords up high, out of the reach of young ones.
Children who are mobile are also often climbing. Any furniture that a child climbs poses a potential tipping risk. You want to walk through the rooms in your home and look for dressers, nightstands, desks, and tall furniture like bookcases or hutches. These should all get secured to the wall high up.
Typically you can do this with a simple metal L-bracket attached to the wall and the piece of furniture.
A small child climbing up a piece of furniture can change its center of gravity and cause it to tip onto them, causing them to be crushed in the process.
Doing this is an absolute must in the child’s room where they may be unsupervised.
Little ones will quickly learn how door locks work. You want to be sure you have door knob covers that prevent them from getting outdoors that could lead them outside and unsupervised.
Let’s Go Room-By-Room
As you look for safety products for your young children, check to see if they have the approval of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
As you start to childproof your home, it makes sense to go through your home room by room and look carefully at the potential risks for your child. Let’s take a look at some potential risks by going room by room. Not all homes are the same, so you should walk through your home and consider what’s at the height of your little one that poses a potential risk.
In this room, in addition to worrying about electrical outlets and windows, you want to consider cords. Are their cords to the TV or other electronics that need to be secured to prevent a choking hazard.
Often people will use tall furniture to hold a TV. This needs to be secured to the wall as it’s likely a young child will want to climb to reach a TV.
If you have a fireplace, you want to never leave a child alone in the room with the fire burning. It would be best if you considered a secure fireplace gate to keep them away from the fireplace.
Little ones will be enamored with the technology in your life, including computers and printers often found in a home office. You want to lock cabinets and secure cords.
If you have a bookcase, you want to secure it to the wall to prevent tipping.
Keep your office supplies like scissors and staplers locked in a desk drawer. If you have a paper shredder in your office, it should be unplugged after each use to protect little fingers from being hurt.
While you might not need this for babies, as soon as your young one becomes interested in getting on a computer, you need to worry about TV and internet safety. Make sure you have child settings set up on both TVs and internet access devices.
You might think your dining room is a pretty harmless place, but even in this room that may not be used regularly, there are dangers.
Avoid having tablecloths hanging off a table that a toddler could grab and pull, dumping anything on the tablecloth onto them.
If you have any kind of china cabinet or hutch, you want to make sure it’s secured to the wall. Often these hold glass that could break and be dangerous. Make sure anything breakable is at a height that isn’t reachable by little hands.
Your stove and under the kitchen sink pose real dangers for children.
You want to put a stove guard to prevent things from spilling onto a little one and prevent them from reaching stove knobs and touching a hot stove. You can also add an appliance strap that prevents them from opening an oven or dishwasher door, causing them to get burned or cut from something sharp inside.
Many people will store cleaning supplies under the kitchen sink, which can mean easy access to dangerous products. Make sure you either move those products up or keep a lock on these cabinet doors.
Often laundry rooms become storage locations for cleaning supplies. You want to make sure these are up and out of reach or locked in secure cabinets.
Many people use laundry pods versus liquid laundry soap. Young children can mistake these for candy because of their packaging. You want to keep these up and out of reach. If you use dry detergent, make sure any scoops are out of reach that may still have soap on them. Kids could put them in their mouths, mistaking them for toys.
Any bedroom where children sleep needs to be extra secure in case they are moving around in there without supervision. Make sure dressers and desks are secured to the wall to prevent tipping if they climb.
If you have a baby in a crib, it’s not recommended to buy it used. You want to make sure the crib you use meets all current safety specifications for the baby. While it was once desirable to line the crib with bumpers, that’s no longer considered safe and can pose a choking hazard for a baby moving around in the bed.
Make sure cords are secured and out of sight and reach for little hands.
Bathrooms hold a plethora of risks for unattended young children. Children should never be left unattended in a bathtub with water. Going back to the earlier mention of hot water, you can have a plumber install a scald guard to prevent burning from water that’s too hot.
It will help if you put seat locks on the toilet to prevent access to water in the toilet. Make sure cabinets and drawers that hold hazards for young children are locked and secured from them having access.
If you use hot appliances like a blowdryer, curling iron, or flat iron, make sure these are unplugged and out of reach when not in use. Never allow young ones near them unsupervised when they are plugged in and hot so you can prevent an unexpected burn.
Keep a mat to prevent slipping next to the shower and bath.
Smart Devices for Home Safety
There are a whole host of smart home automation devices designed specifically for adding a layer of safety for children in the home.
Of course, there are two-way video baby monitors so you can see and hear them when you’re not in the same room with them.
You could use entryway sensors and motion-sensing cameras to prevent your child from getting out of a door that could lead to danger. If you have a backyard pool, you can even add flood and leak sensors that might sense water and alert you if your child has gone into the pool unsupervised. These can be a lifesaving tool to prevent drowning if kids get out without you noticing.
Childproofing the Home the Right Way So Your Little Ones Are Safe
After reading all these potential dangers, childproofing the home may feel like a daunting task. But better to take the time to keep them safe. Go room by room. Consider even getting down to their level to find potential dangers you can remove to keep them safe.
Another way to keep your home and loved ones safe is by making sure you have the insurance coverage you need. Let us help you evaluate all your insurance coverage to make sure you have what you need. Contact us today to set up a time to make sure you have all of your insurance needs covered.