Baby Proof It: A Room-by-Room Guide to Securing Your Home
Once you become a parent, it can seem like danger lurks around every corner. And when it comes to your home, that’s literally true. For toddlers just learning to walk or curious preschoolers, your home can be a brave new world full of the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat. While many parents are haunted by the specter of stranger danger, it’s actually accidents within the home that carry the largest risk for young children. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reports that each year, 9.2 million children visit the ER with unintentional injuries1. For those ages one to four, the greatest percentage of injuries were sustained from falls, ingesting poisonous substances, burns, and being struck by objects. The vast majority of these incidents take place in the familiar terrain of a child’s own home. Accidents both at home and away are the leading cause of death in children and teenagers.
Kimberlee Mitchell, a former journalist and Child Safety Media Expert dubbed by People.com as the “child proofer to the stars,” is passionate about offering practical solutions and education aimed at lowering unintentional child injuries. In a recent exclusive interview for SafeWise, she shared her insight about the impact of child safety.
“Child injury is predictable and preventable. It is also among the most under-recognized public health problems facing our country today. The good news is child injury death rates have decreased 29% in the last decade, which I believe is evidence of the safety movement and prevention having an impact. Yet injury is still the leading cause of death for children and teens. More can be done to keep our children safe.” Kimberlee Mitchell, National Child Safety Expert
We understand you don’t want to dampen Junior’s enthusiasm for exploration, but a few sensible safety measures can protect your child from the most common injuries. We’ve created a room-by-room guide to securing a safe place for your offspring to pull, climb, and inspect every nook and cranny. We’ll begin with some baby proofing basics that are concerns in every part of your home, then give you a peek into the aspects of each area that require your attention. While we’ve devised a very detailed guide to making your home a safe place for your kids, it should be noted that there is no substitute for supervision. Even a well-secured space can contain hidden dangers, so keep your eyes open and read on.
The Basics of Baby Proofing
When to Baby Proof
Ideally, you want to batten down the hatches before tornado toddler starts to sweep through. Once babies turn over onto their stomachs, usually around five to six months old, crawling is just a few months away. Start some common-sense measures like securing furniture and installing gates before baby starts using every surface as a step up.
“Every home is different with varying architecture, floor-plan layout, furniture, etc., but kitchens are full of hazards. It’s best to gate off access to the kitchen and always place the baby in the high chair during meal prep so your child is not underfoot and does not have access to you while your attention is diverted on preparing food.” Kimberlee Mitchell, National Child Safety Expert
Latches and Locks
These simple mechanisms can keep dangerous chemicals and other potentially hazardous items under lock and key. Look for latches and locks made of sturdy materials that won’t give way easily or snap under stress. You’ll also want to ensure the latches and locks you choose are ones you can actually open. You know, in case you need that stuff sometime in the next three years. For maximum safety, move poisonous substances to higher cupboards and cabinets that are well out of baby’s reach.
You shall not pass! Play gatekeeper with products that are easy for adults to open but have a locking mechanism to deter toddlers. If you do choose a gate with slats, make sure they’re no more than 2 3/8 inches wide to prevent tiny heads from suffering suffocation. Take some measurements to guarantee your gate will adequately span the space you’re blocking off and don’t use older accordion-style safety gates. These products were pulled from the market for strangulation concerns.
Some child proofing gadgets can be life savers. Literally. Typically pressure mounted and adjustable, window guards should have quick-release mechanisms to allow for escape during emergencies.
Edge and Corner Guards
Protect your little explorer from the sharp edges of tables, fireplaces, and more with these soft covers. Look for guards that are non toxic and large enough not to become choking hazards if they get pried loose by curious fingers.
The little holes that accommodate your electrical appliances are unfortunately perfect for tiny digits. Remove temptation with outlet covers but choose ones that slide open and closed instead of the cheap plastic inserts, which can become choking hazards.
Look out below! Creepers and crawlers are constantly using furniture or an electronic device to get a leg up, but it’s a dangerous endeavor. If you have a heavy piece of furniture or electronic that isn’t secure, it could topple over and crush your child. It’s one of the most common injuries for young children, but it’s easily preventable with furniture anchors. Use two anchors and make sure they’re screwed into the wall studs so your little sweetie can continue trying to scale every surface safely.
“The most common mistake most parents and caregivers make is that they wait too long to start the child proofing process and they find themselves in a panic. If you start early, you can get ahead of the curve and child proof in phases so it’s not a financial burden and not so overwhelming.” Kimberlee Mitchell, National Child Safety Expert
Remember that child proofing your home is a process, one that you should start early and complete in stages. Every child and every environment has different demands, so take the time to assess your situation and your home carefully before you begin.
“I think a heathy balance somewhere in the middle, while taking into account your child’s age and temperament as well as the safety of the environment, is key. It’s not one-size-fits-all for every family, for all children, and in all locations.“ Kimberlee Mitchell, National Child Safety Expert
Once you’ve begun work to batten down the hatches in your home, remember that SafeWise is here to help. We provide in-depth reviews and guides for child safety products that assist parents in choosing the best solution for their needs. And while there are lots of sites that extoll the virtues of do-it-yourself safety hacks, those approaches can be faulty and sometimes downright dangerous. There is no substitute for quality products and expert, professional advice to ensure your little one stays safe and sound.