The ABC's of Baby Safety
by Alison Rhodes
Every year, more children under the age of five die from unintentional injury than all other causes combined. Accidents are also the leading cause of permanent or temporary disability in those over the age of one year. In the United States, 12 to 14 million children (one in four children under the age of 15) require medical attention due to accidental injury. The majority of these accidents occur in and around the home.
Most, however, can be prevented. And, by following the "ABC's of Baby Proofing" you can help make your home safer for your toddlers.
Awareness is the most critical element. Babies begin rolling over, crawling and walking when you least expect it. While your child might not be able to roll off the changing table today, by tomorrow she could. Recognize that every child is different and be aware of your child's "vulnerabilities." Some children are natural climbers so securing heavy furniture to the walls might be the top priority. Other children are more interested in ingesting anything they can get their hands on. For them, cabinet and drawer locks for the kitchen and bathrooms would be more important.
Barriers are necessary to ensure your baby's safety. Whether it's installing gates on stairs or locks on cabinets, it's important that safeguards be put in place. Don't forget the existing barriers in your home. Home offices, exercise rooms and laundry rooms are no place for children. By installing automatic door closers and bolts at the top of the doors you can keep these areas off limits. Locks and alarms should also be placed on patio doors. Little ones can very quickly learn how to open a slider door.
Controlling your child's environment will allow them the freedom to explore while at the same time protecting them from hazards. We call them "safe zones." These are areas that have been secured and where your child is always within your view. We occasionally hear objections, especially from first time parents, that they want their child to be able to have the run of the house. This is risky as there are too many opportunities for your child to be out of your sight. Safe zones can be large enough to give your child ample room to explore and play while in a secure area.
Baby proofing your home is an important step to take in helping keep your child safe but you shouldn't be lulled into a false sense of security. These items will merely slow down an inquisitive toddler not completely deter them. While parents can have a little more peace of mind, you should still keep your child in sight at all times.