Ask any parent and they’ll tell you that their child gets into almost everything. Kids learn by doing, exploring, and interacting with their world, so curiosity is natural. However, curiosity can also get them into trouble, or worse, cause them harm. That’s where childproofing comes in. Children are every bit the clever problem solvers you hope for them to be, so it’s important not to miss these key steps when childproofing your home.
When Should I Childproof My Home?
Your home will need different levels of childproofing depending on how old your baby is. You’ll want to do the majority of your proofing around three months before your due date. When your baby begins to crawl, scoot, and walk it’ll be time to reevaluate your child's safety situation!
Cover Electrical Outlets
As one of the major hazards at a baby’s eye level, electrical outlets are the cause of injury to roughly 2,500 children every year. This can range from burns, respiratory problems, cardiac arrest, or even death. And while no one ever wants their child to get injured, outlets can sometimes go overlooked because parents think their children will ignore them or won’t see them.
The simplest solution is to cover or alter your outlets to prevent tampering from curious little hands. Many parents choose to use plastic caps that you insert into an outlet as you would any other appliance. These caps are inexpensive and designed to be difficult to remove, especially for children.
If you have a particularly dextrous kiddo, then you might want to consider box outlet covers. These are good options for outlets that get used often. Simply install the box around your outlet. Lock and unlock them as needed and keep your children safe all at once!
Add Baby Gates to Key Locations
We think that baby gates are a pretty essential part of any home with young children in it. In fact, we recommend baby gates that require installation over the ones that rely on tensile strength. Baby gates that are secured to a wall or doorway are far less likely to fail when your child is testing their strength or climbing abilities.
The best baby gate locations include:
- Top of the stairs - To prevent downward falls
- Bottom of the stairs - To prevent unattended stair climbing
- Doors to laundry areas - To prevent children from crawling into appliances or getting into chemicals
- Kitchen - To keep children away from hot surfaces during cooking
- Pantries without doors - To prevent shelf-climbing, or heavy objects from being pulled off shelves
- Home offices - To prevent play with cords, outlets, and electronics
- Fireplace areas - To keep unattended children from burning themselves
- Hallways - Especially near stairs or balcony areas
- Porches - To prevent falls from decks, porches, or cordon off pool areas.
Cabinets are great for storage, but they’re also portals for many dangerous household objects like detergent, medication, and other potentially harmful chemicals. Colorful packaging and enticing characters easily pique a curious toddler’s interest, making cabinet locks a must-have once your baby begins to explore on his own. There are many options when it comes to childproofing your cabinets, most of which require little hardware (if any at all) and are simple to install. From magnets and ties to locks and straps, consider the skill level of your child and make your decision from there. As they get older, it might be necessary to upgrade or change your cabinet securing method.
Mind Sharp Corners
Once babies are up on their feet, the real fun begins! Children have a lot of energy to burn off during the day, and much of that time is spent running around the house. You’ll want to invest in a good set of table corner guards to keep your little ones from scraping, cutting, or poking themselves too hard. There are lots of different kinds of corner bumpers to choose from. While they’re not the most stylish item you can adorn your home with, they will help prevent a potentially serious injury.
When considering how many to buy, get down to your child’s eye level and look at the world from their view. It’s a lot more angular!
Cordless Window Coverings
Cords on blinds are a major choking hazard for children. Even if you never leave your child unsupervised, cords can quickly become tangled and wrapped around your baby’s neck, hand, fingers, and other extremities. For this reason, we recommend cordless blinds.
This doesn’t have to be an expensive update. Roller shades are an easy to install, inexpensive option for cordless blinds. They can also be easily replaced if they get ripped or colored on, making them an attractive option. If you want a slightly more deluxe window treatment, consider investing in automatic blinds that are easily controlled with a remote control.
If you’ve been looking for a reason to mount your TV on the wall, this is the best time to get that DIY taken care of. In fact, any large objects that can be pulled or knocked over need to be strapped down or secured to the wall. That giant mirror might look great propped in the corner of your bedroom, but it’ll look even better when it’s not in a thousand pieces while you’re rushing to the emergency room with your little one.
Door chimes are a nice addition to any home. Toddlers and children can easily turn unsecured knobs or open sliding doors and be out in the world within seconds. Door chimes are easy to install and let you know when your doors have been opened. This is particularly important if you have a porch or a pool area. We recommend attaching a chime or sensor to every exit, just to be safe.
We Have The Advice You Need
We hope that these tips help start you on your babyproofing journey. We promise it’s well worth it! If you have any questions or concerns, or simply want a recommendation, our experienced pediatricians have been helping families in Memphis and surrounding areas protect their children as they grow. Are you expecting? Consider scheduling a prenatal visit or joining one of our new parenting classes!