As soon as infants become mobile they are suddenly gifted with the ability to get into everything that they can reach. When those infants then become toddlers that are able to walk, climb, and run through the house, parenting can feel more like a full-contact sport than anything else. Toddler-proofing your house requires more than slapping on a set of cabinet locks, though they are still a worthwhile investment. The average home is host to a staggering array of safety hazards, most of which aren’t immediately apparent to first-time parents of a newly-upright and mobile child. To keep your inquisitive little one safe and sound, here are ten tips for creating a safer home environment.
- Amend Your Cooking Habits – When you’re childless, or when an infant is safely tucked away in a bassinet, there’s not much focus on making sure that you choose back burners whenever possible and that you turn all pot and pan handles inward. The moment your little bundle of joy starts walking, however, it’s imperative to condition yourself to do just that. Reducing the risk of dangerous spills that can land on a child, or scalding food splattering onto his skin, by adjusting your cooking behavior is an important part of toddler-proofing the kitchen.
- Wrap and Conceal Electrical Cords and Wires – Wires that are visible, especially those hanging loose in bundles along the floor behind the entertainment center, should be wrapped tightly and concealed or secured so that little fingers can’t reach them. Pulling these wires can not only damage your appliances and components, but also send them toppling onto a curious child.
- Cover Outlets – Every new parent receives a handful of plastic outlet plugs that are designed to keep little fingers out of the dangerous current. They’re perfectly capable of doing the job when crawling infants are at eye level with outlets, but observant toddlers can figure out how to pull them out of the wall by watching his parents remove them to use the outlet. Investing in slightly more complex full outlet plates can foil your little genius’s attempts to access the wall plugs, keeping them safe from harm.
- Secure Shelving Units – It doesn’t take long for toddlers to learn that something that was previously out of reach of their questing fingers can be accessed by climbing. Shelves, dressers, and any other furniture that can possibly give a toddler an invitation for scaling it is subject to just that; while it’s best to discourage this type of behavior, it’s also a good idea to make sure that shelves are securely attached to the wall to prevent a dangerous tip-over if your child does climb onto them when you’re out of sight.
- Use Non-Skid Mats in Bathtubs – The moment your child can stand up, he will start to do so in the bathtub. Though you should never leave any child unattended in the bathtub, a non-skid mat can help you prevent nasty falls resulting from little feet than can’t quite manage slippery, wet tub surfaces.
- Lock Sliding Doors – Sliding a patio door open is, in many cases, easier for little kids to do than adults realize. Kids can slip outside in the blink of an eye by applying the slightest bit of pressure to the door, so make sure that you keep sliding doors locked at all times. It may also be wise to attach removable decals on glass doors at toddler-eye-level, to keep your child from running headlong into a transparent glass panel.
- Keep Medications In Childproof Containers, Out of Sight and Out of Reach – Reuters Health reported in 2011 that the number of children who end up in the emergency room due to accidental poisoning with prescription medications do so as a result of accessing them themselves. Keeping medications in purses or bags and under bathroom cabinets, especially in easy-to-open containers rather than the childproof variety they’re originally dispensed in, is a risky proposition. Instead, make sure that all medication remains in childproof containers, and that all of those containers are kept well out of reach and sight. A safe or lock box is an ideal place to store medication.
- Use Safety Gates, But Realize That They’re Fallible – The baby gate is a perennial favorite of parents, especially those with stairs. While they can be very useful and effective, parents should remember that they’re not entirely foolproof, and that kids should still be supervised in an area with dangerous stairs.
- Install Window Guards – Window guards prevent children from tumbling out of second and even first-floor windows, whether they’re deliberately opened for air circulation or lifted by a curious toddler. The Consumer Products Safety Commission reports that an estimated 4,000 injuries occur as a result of falls from household windows annually, so don’t overlook the windows while you’re toddler-proofing.
- Set the Water Heater at 120° – If you didn’t turn your hot water heater’s temperature setting to 120° when your little one was born, it’s a wise move to do so now that he’s walking. Scalds are one of the most common types of burns that emergency room doctors see with their smaller-set patients, so making sure that your hot water never reaches excessive temperatures is best.
Rather than relying solely on your childproofing measures, it’s best to monitor your toddler and help him learn safe habits through direction and instruction. If you do, when he’s older and toddler-proof measures are removed, he’ll understand that some things are still dangerous to play with.