Having a baby transforms your life, your finances, and your home. When your baby starts moving around, use these do-it-yourself tips to make your house, or those that your baby visits, safer. Even if you have permanent baby proofing solutions in place, we’ve listed some tips for temporary options for when you take the little bundle to parents’ or friends’ houses.
The first rule of baby-proofing: Assume your child can get into much more mischief than seems possible. One must-do—look at things from the baby’s point-of-view. That means getting down on your knees or belly for a view. We’ve listed some ways you can alter common items in your house to protect your baby, toddler, or young child.
Low Shelves and Coffee Tables
We don’t realize how many sharp corners exist in our lives until they threaten our little ones. Low shelves and tables represent a twofold risk: sharp corners, and heavy items your baby could pull onto himself.
The solution: First, move all glass, small, and heavy objects off reachable surfaces. Put them in higher spots or pack them away altogether. Remember heavy coasters or coffee table books. Then, tape washcloths or cut off tennis balls to the corners of tables and shelves. We recommend using painters’ tape because it is easier on paint and wood finishes.
The most dangerous thing about a cabinet is what’s inside. Cabinets in the kitchen, laundry room, and bathroom may contain dangerous chemicals or choking hazards. In fact, every day, U.S. hospitals treat 300 or more children—from babies to teenagers—for accidental poisoning, according to the Center for Disease Control.
The solution: Childproofing your cabinets is easy and cheap—safety locks aren’t expensive or difficult to install. You can lock doors when you visit using rubber bands, hairbands, or rubber bracelets. In addition, close and lock any doors to rooms that might have machinery or chemicals (i.e. laundry room).
Electrical outlets are extremely dangerous. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 70 percent of child-related electrical accidents occur at home, when adult supervision is present. Modern homes have too many outlets to leave shock up to chance.
The solution: Plug up all (and we mean all) outlets with cheap plastic outlet covers. Keep some spares on hand when you visit others. In addition, remember to unplug all reachable chargers, even when they’re not in use. Babies love to grab chargers and yank. A side benefit—you’ll save electricity; any time chargers are plugged in, electricity flows through them.
TVs and Furniture
TVs, as heavy appliances that most families keep within reach, present constant danger for growing children. The estimated number of TV-related ER visits has increased by about 31 percent, according to safekid.org. As TVs get slimmer in the age of flat-screens, they become more and more top heavy and therefore more prone to tip over.
The solution: Anchor the TV, and any other top-heavy furniture, to the wall. This is the best way to insure the baby doesn’t rock a TV stand or pull the TV onto himself or herself. Most sets come with an anchor mechanism; if you can’t find yours, you can buy another at a department or electronics store. If you’re at a friend’s house, of course, you’ll have to do it the old-fashioned way: Watch the child like a hawk.
Every day, U.S. emergency rooms treat nearly 8,000 children for fall-related injuries, adding up to about 2.8 million children a year.
The solution: Everyone knows to put a child safety gate at the top of the stairs, but what about one at the bottom as well? This way, your child can’t climb up halfway and still fall from a significant distance. If you’re at a friend’s house, you’ll have to keep track of the child constantly.
Choking and Strangulation Hazards
Choking is the third leading cause of unintentional injury deaths in American children younger than 1 year old, according to the National Safety Council. Children can choke on small objects, such as their older siblings’ toys, or they can strangle themselves by becoming tangled in the cords for your curtains or blinds.
The solution: Make it fun for the baby’s older siblings to clear a safe area, free of choking hazards. At the very least, explain to them the gravity of the situation. Use a twist tie to bundle cords that operate curtains or blinds and keep them out of reach. That way, you won’t tangle up your cords, but they’ll remain at a safe height.
Everyone wants to create a safe space for a child. Undertake permanent fixes for your home and use portable ones to baby-proof your friend’s apartment, your parents’ house, or even your own dwelling. The temporary fixes won’t inconvenience your friends. And because you can install the home safety solutions on your own, they’ll cost less than having it done professionally.