So your pregnant, now what? In all the hustle and bustle of preparing for a new baby one thing that should never be over looked is baby proofing. A lot of people choose to wait until baby is bigger to baby proof. So they put this off and then it becomes something that just never seems to get done. Baby proofing your home is something that should be done along with preparing your nursery. When preparing your home the best thing to do is to not only think of what baby needs now but plan for when baby is walking, talking, and exploring.
So how do you baby proof your home? There are some very simple but important things you can do to keep baby and toddler safe at home. I will go over some products that are useful when you start baby proofing your home. Safety 1st is the company I prefer to use in my own home and is the only product that I send in packages to expectant mothers. All products that I will talk about can be purchased through Safety 1st retailers. I will also try to include some ‘home remedies’ as alternative to having to buy the products. This of course won’t apply to all products but certainly to some and can help save money.
Outlet plugs are small plastic ‘stoppers’ that fit directly into the outlet to prevent your little one from inserting anything in the outlet and getting shocked. This is the most common item when people think of baby proofing and it is a very important one to remember.
Cord Shorteners are useful to keep excess cords from becoming a hazard. Most can accommodate up to 4 feet of excess cord. This is something that is usually over looked but it can prevent baby from pulling something down on top of his/her head. It also keeps the excess off the floor so that baby can not get tangled in the cord and fall over and get hurt. Zip ties can also be used to tie up excess cord. Preferably you should use two or three zip ties. Once you have gathered the excess cord put a zip tie at both ends and if the cord is large enough put one in the middle as well. Make sure you have pulled it tight enough to prevent any part of the excess from slipping out.
Another type of cord to remember is the window blind cords. There are many accidental hangings and other injuries due to blind cords. Even if you have your cords cut in two they can still become tangled enough to strangle baby. What I do in my home is to lower the blinds to the base of the window and then cut the cords to hang 6 inches from the top while the blinds are lowered. However, when you raise the blinds the cords dangle, so getting a window blind winder is very important. What that does is provides you a place to wind the cord while it is not in use. You can also accomplish this by inserting a nail at least half way up the window and winding the cord up and out of the way on that. Leave about 1/2 inch of the nail protruding so that you have plenty of space to wind the excess cord. Keep it high enough that baby cannot reach it but for your own safety I suggest that you place the nail at the top of the window. This way you will not get scraped by it if you walk past too closely and you will not get an eye injury if you bump into it. It is then safe for everyone in the family.
Night lights are useful to keep accidents from happening during the night. You can get auto sensor lights that will turn on at a certain darkness and off during the day. This is very helpful because it helps keep electricity usage down and you don’t have to remember to turn on the night light. It will always be on when needed. You should place night lights along the pathway to the rest room and to Mom and Dad’s room for baby. One in baby’s room, bathroom, and Mom and Dad’s room. usually one in the hallway is enough but if you have a larger house you may want to put two in the hallway.
Bi-Fold Door locks are great for closets with two doors that pull out or fold back. This will keep baby from getting into anything that may be stored in a closet. It clamps over the trim on both doors at the top and prevents baby from pulling the doors open. You could also use a rubber band to bind the knobs together this is not as effective as the door lock but a small child will not be able to pull the doors apart. This is usually better to use as a quick fix since it can be aggravating to open yourself.
Baby Gates are most important at stairways to prevent baby from falling down the stairs. You can also use baby gates to block off certain rooms from baby. For example if you have just cleaned the kitchen floor and you want to keep baby from getting the wet chemicals on him/her, placing a gate in the doorway will keep baby out of danger without restricting their movement to that of a playpen. There are different kinds of gates. Pressure gates are gates that use an sdjusting arm to force the gate open and hold it in place. Fixed gates are ones that are mounted directly into the wall. For stairways fixed gates are the best choice. When baby is big enough sometimes if they lean on the pressure gate it can topple over. While that is rare to happen with a smaller child it is a risk not worth taking. So at stairway tops the fixed gate really is the best choice.
Spout covers in a tub are designed with padding to fit over the water spout to prevent baby from being injured by bumping their head on the steel of the spout. Remember that a baby can drown in less than 2 inches of water so never leave baby unattended in the bathroom.
You can get toilet locks but the safest thing to do is to keep baby out of the bathroom unattended. Always pull the door shut when the bathroom is not in use.
Medicine cabinets and drawers should have safety locks to prevent the doors from being opened. Keep in mind that even with inside mounted cabinet locks baby can still reach in and get a hold of products. While most product containers are too large to fit through a couple inch gap it is still possible for baby to get out smaller products.
Another bathroom baby proofing less thought of is the hot water. Baby can be seriously burned if he/she manages to turn the faucet on. Set your hot water at or slightly below 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix baby’s bath water with your hand to ensure there is no spots of hot or cold water but that it is equally warm. Even though I check the water manually sometimes we as adults cannot tell what is hot to baby so keeping a meat thermometer for checking bath temperatures is the easiest way to make sure baby’s water is safe. These are easy to read and use and can be the difference between a nice soothing bath and a scalding accident.
Corner padding is important if you have sharp cut corners to prevent injury if baby should fall into the corner. When choosing your furniture you should always consider the possibility of one day having a baby in the home. Try to buy as much furniture as possible without the sharp edges. If you must buy furniture with sharp edges, make sure to pad them when baby does come along.
Keep nick knacks in a China cabinet when ever possible as baby can reach up on tables and pull things down on top of themselves. Side tables and other small and lighter furniture should be secured to the wall when ever possible to prevent baby from tipping it over. As baby starts to walk they will use furniture and other large objects to pull themselves up on or for balance when walking. Making your home as safe for baby as possible is vital to preventing many unfortunate accidents.
Keep toys with smaller parts away from baby. Have a toy box with a lock on it to prevent baby from accessing toys that he/she may choke on. Along these same lines if you allow your children to eat candy make sure that it is not something baby can choke on. The best kind of candy, in my opinion, you can give your little one would be safety pops. This is a lollipop that has a looped ‘stick’ so if baby should swallow it you can retrieve it with relative easy by hooking your finger into the looped ‘stick’.
One thing many people do not know is dangerous to baby is iodized salt and vanilla. Items we use to cook with can be as dangerous as chemicals that can be found in the kitchen. What I prefer to do is to keep all of my cleaning products in a locked hallway closet rather than having cleaning chemicals in every room of your home. If you must keep products in each room make sure they are up high and secure. Keep all cooking products up in top cabinets and make sure to have some type of cabinet lock on those particular doors.
One thing I do in the kitchen when I am cooking or baking is to place a folding gate around the area of the stove. Turning pot and pans handles inward on the stove can also help keep baby from pulling down a hot pan or pot onto themselves. I use the gate to prevent baby from getting close enough to the stove to pull anything down or to brush against the oven front and get burned.
Baby proofing your home doesn’t just stop in the home but extends into your vehicle as well. What I used as a car seat was one that was mounted on a base. That way the base, once properly installed did not have to be removed and I still had the convenience of being able to take the seat out if my daughter was sleeping. Your baby should be in a rear-facing car seat from 0 – 1 year of age and weighs a minimum of 22 pounds, after that you can switch to a front facing car seat. Always make sure that your child is compatible with the specs on the car seat you choose in both height and weight. In many accidents babies have been thrown from the vehicle because their car seat was not properly installed. Most police stations will double check this for you with no hassle. If need be ask a friend or family member to check to make sure it is properly installed. Remember to always buckle baby up no matter how short a distance you plan on traveling. Most accidents occur within 50 miles of your home.
In baby’s bed keep out all excess items such as comforters, toys and stuffed animals. Pillows are not recommended for baby. I used a baby blocker to keep my daughter from becoming entangled in her blanket. I believe the baby blockers are also known as positioners. It is two pieces of foam covered with cloth that you place on either side of baby to prevent rolling and suffocation. Make sure that the blanket you use for baby is light weight and breathable.
While you can add pillows and toys to the crib when baby is not in it, they pose a danger to baby while sleeping. Only add toys that can be secured in place to a crib to prevent accidents where something could fall on to baby. Keep all mobiles out of reach of the crib. Baby will be able to see them if they are up a little higher than the top of the crib and this way baby cannot pull on the parts and bring it down on top of themselves.
These are some of the simple things you can do to make sure baby is safe in your home and vehicle. Remember these children are our future, let’s keep them safe enough to get there.