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Baby-Proofing Your Home

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that from 1982 to 1986, 4,500 children were treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries sustained when chests of drawers, TVs, and bookcases tipped over on them. Eleven children died in these accidents. With some simple baby-proofing, you can avoid tragic accidents such as these and keep your little one safe and sound.

The best way to baby-proof your home is to spend some quality time on your hands and knees, or to ask someone who's not pregnant to do it for you. Crawl around your house and determine which locations and objects might be dangerous to your baby. What will your baby be able to reach as he grows? What will she be able to get into, pull down, put in her mouth, and climb into and onto?

Each home is unique, so there is no standard baby-proofing list, but the following are some general guidelines for making your home safe:

  • Apply plugs or safety covers in all electrical outlets.

  • Install latches on all cabinets and drawers within baby's reach and make sure that all knobs, pulls, and knockers are secure and can't be pulled off.

  • Wind up all dangling cords, wiring, and tassels. Move electrical cords and wiring behind furniture where they cannot be reached.

  • Install stove knob covers, stove top protectors, and oven locks if necessary.

  • Remove all heavy, small, breakable, or valuable objects that may be toppled off tabletops; and any space heaters, fans, or other hazards that can be reached.

  • Move houseplants out of reach.

  • Anchor all bookcases, shelves, dressers, and floor lamps to walls.

  • Use corner covers to pad sharp edges on furniture, railings, etc.

  • Use door stops to prevent open doors from slamming shut on your baby.

  • Install and use locks or hook-and-eye sets onto doors so your baby can't get into the pantry, bathroom, basement, or other rooms. Sliding door locks are also available.

  • Install gates to block access to stairways, fireplaces, and all other hazards. Some gates can be installed without drilling holes in walls or door jams.

  • Dump out any buckets containing water and remove or block access to any other standing water such as toilets and fish tanks. Infants can drown in as little as two inches of water, and according to the CPSC, fifty young children drown every year in buckets containing water used for mopping floors and other household chores. Install a banister guard or safety net to a balcony or railing that is not child-safe.

  • Install window guards, which will prevent low windows from opening more than six inches.

  • Make sure that all your baby equipment and toys meet current safety standards. Visit the CPSC Website for updates on product safety.

  • Stock your house with first aid supplies. Ask your doctor what he or she recommends you include for your baby.

  • Install smoke detectors in the hallway near every bedroom and one near the kitchen. Check them monthly to be sure they're working properly and change the batteries every six months. A working smoke detector cuts the chances of dying in a fire in half.

  • Have your home checked for lead and asbestos.

  • Test your water. Depending on the results, consider installing a purifier or talk to your doctor about sterilizing your baby's bottles and pacifiers.

In the Nursery: Position the crib away from curtains and window blind cords, and make sure the space between the bars of the crib rail are no greater than 2-3/8 inches (this is especially important if you are using an older or borrowed crib). The crib rails should be at their highest position and the mattress should fit the crib frame securely and should be positioned at the lowest level to keep your baby from crawling out. Remove the bumper pad when your baby is six months old and remove any mobiles once he or she is old enough to grab them. Do not allow extra blankets, pillows, or large plush toys in the crib while your baby is sleeping. Keep all diaper changing essentials and medicines out of your baby's reach.

In the Kitchen: Keep hot containers and drinks out of your baby's reach and unplug countertop appliances after use. Install locks on all low cabinets and drawers, as well as on the refrigerator, dishwasher, oven, and trash compactor. When cooking always turn pot handles towards the back of the stove, and keep knives, sharp utensils, and cleaning products out of your baby's reach. Make sure your baby's high chair safety belt and tray are in working condition and you secure your baby in the chair at every meal and snack.

In the Bathroom: Store cosmetics, perfumes, hair care products, vitamins, and medicines in locked cabinets and drawers. Install toilet latches so your baby cannot lift the lid and do not use or store any electrical appliance near the bathtub or sink. In the bathtub, install childproof knob covers, non-skid appliqués or a rubber bath mat, and a soft spout cover on the spigot. Turn your hot water heater down to 120 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid scalds and burns. Once your baby can sit up, use a bathtub safety seat to help keep him secure and free your hands for bathing.

Outside and in the Garage: Playground equipment should be sturdy and free of sharp corners and edges. Swings and climbing toys should be set at least six feet away from fences and walls and anchored securely in the ground. Keep fence gates closed and check that the locks work properly. Store hazardous lawn equipment, sharp gardening tools, barbeque utensils, and lighter fluid in locked cabinets. If you use a gas grill, make sure to turn the knob on the propane tank to the closed position after grilling. Test automatic garage door openers to ensure the anti-entrapment sensors are working properly.

Remember that baby-proofing is an ongoing process; the gate put at the top of the stairs for your 8-month-old today may become a favorite climbing structure as he or she gets older. Baby-proofing is an important part of caring for your little one and with a little effort and diligence you can keep your baby healthy, happy, and safe.

 


 

Featured Sites:

Cord Blood Registry
March of Dimes
Susan G. Komen


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