It’s an amazing feeling when your baby starts to become mobile—and it’s kind of scary too. There’s so much they can get into around the house! That’s why it’s so important to make sure your home is baby-proof (and toddler-proof—the concerns don’t stop when your kiddo is walking and talking). We consulted the experts at Children’s Health for what you should know in order to make your home safer for the littlest members of your family.
First, a reminder of why it’s necessary: “More than a third of children’s traumatic injuries and deaths happen inside the home,” says Marisa Abbe, Ph.D., manager of injury prevention at Children’s Health. “Younger children are at greatest risk because they are home the most.”
And of course, with the pandemic continuing and fewer options available for outings, young kids are home even more. Here are seven key safety tips:
Don’t ever leave littles alone in the bath.
Children can drown with as little as one inch of water in the tub. Don’t ever let your baby out of your sight when they’re in the bath. Tragedy can happen more quickly than you think. Children’s Health tells us that drownings are the second leading cause of death for young children.
Secure your pool—beyond a lock on the back door.
The risk of drowning also applies to the family pool. And now that we’re into fall and looking ahead to winter, you’re probably not thinking as much about pool dangers.
“We really want to stress that if there is a pool you need to have a fence or barrier to prevent kids from escaping the home and into the pool unnoticed,” says Abbe. “It is impossible to watch kids 24/7. The more barriers between your child and something dangerous, the better.”
Abbe notes that almost half of children who drown in North Texas were not swimming at the time but instead wandered outside or fell in the pool while playing.
The best barriers are fences with self-latching locks that are out of your kids’ reach. Back door alarms can alert you if your child makes an unexpected trip outside.
Don’t get lax about sleep safety.
Yes, you’re up at all hours of the night as a new parent, and yes, it’s exhausting. But don’t get tempted to keep baby in the bed with you (in the room, yes, but not in the bed). Other sleep guidelines include making sure your baby has a flat, firm sleeping surface; putting babies to sleep on their backs; and keeping all those cute toys, blankets and bumpers out of the crib or bassinet because of the danger of suffocation.
Lock up guns. Period.
Children’s Health notes that at least half of the homes in Texas have a firearm. For your little one’s safety, ensure the gun is unloaded, locked and stored appropriately. Children’s Health recommends trigger locks, gun safes and gun cabinets. And as your child grows and starts making playdates, be willing to raise the issue. “If your child is going to play at another child’s home, you should ask the parents if they have a gun in the home,” says Abbe. “It can be a touchy subject, but it’s okay for parents to ask and ensure it is stored and locked properly.”
Be aware of dangers in your cabinets.
Items you use in your daily life can be deadly for children. So be sure that alcohol, cleaning supplies, makeup, medicine and vitamins are inaccessible. Abbe says you can get very inexpensive cabinet latches to ward off curious kids. And by the way, it’s not just your vitamins and medicines you need to protect. Kids may like the taste of their pain reliever or gummy chew and try to ingest too much when your back is turned.
And while the number 911 is second nature, there’s another number to know: 1-800/222-1222. That’s poison control. “You should always call poison control before calling 911 because you can get the information you need faster,” says Abbe.
Don’t forget about window guards.
You can let in a breeze without creating a fall risk. Abbe recommends window devices that allow an opening of only six inches. Screens will not prevent a child from tumbling out. Also, get a hook or other device that will keep window blind cords out of baby’s reach.
Anchor your furniture.
Is it kind of a pain to anchor all your furnishings to the wall? That’s nothing when you think about the devastation a tipped TV or dresser can cause. Abbe says the Children’s Health trauma team has seen an increase in furniture crush injuries. Don’t let your child be one of them. TVs, shelves, dressers, bookcases, desks—if it would hurt your child, secure it to the wall with a tether. (You can find them at home improvement stores.)
And when assessing any potential risk in your house, remember to see things the way your little one does—literally.
“Childproofing is difficult to do because children change so rapidly, so the risk factors change over time,” says Abbe. “What we really suggest parents do is get at their child’s eye level, even down on your hands and knees, and go around your house. Experience the world from your children’s point of view so you know how to protect them.”
Image courtesy of iStock.