Baby Proofing...or how to Protect your House from your Baby

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Posted by Hilda

Conventional wisdom has it that you are protecting your baby from your house when you baby proof it. Well, really you're protecting them from you and your bad habits... you know what I'm talking about: leaving change and small things everywhere when you clean your bags and pockets, the cables that, even when painstakingly separated, manage to get back into an impossibly tangled mess a day later, etc... as soon as you own up to that, the whole process of proofing will become more straightforward.
Once a baby is crawling or walking, making your home safe for baby is almost a daily chore. Here are some important things to watch for:
  • As soon as your child can sit up or be on all fours and therefore reach up and touch them or pull them down, remove mobiles or hanging items from his/her crib.
  • Keep any items that will fit into the palm of your hand if you close it, such as coins, small toys or pieces of toys, buttons, balloons, etc... off any surface that is at or below your waist level since a child who can sit up and crawl could possibly stand up and pull those items off a low table.
  • Beware of curtain or blind cords that hang, shorten them or position them on a hook high up on the wall so they are well out of reach of the child. 
  • If you use doorstops (for example we have to have them everywhere here as our doors are fire-safety doors), buy the all-plastic all-in-one large doorstops or doorstops that are much bigger (e.g. we have a small bean bag door stop that is a bit larger than the size of our child's head) and absolutely remove plastic ends from non-plastic doorstops as those are a serious hazard and several infants choke on them each year.
  • Put away any chemical or hazardous substances preferably in high-reach cabinets with locks or put child-proof locks and other babyguards on any lower cabinets which might contain these items. Remember that substances hazardous to a baby include alcohol or medication of any kind.
  • Pad the edges of any item of furniture that has square or fine (and therefore sharp) edges. You would also be well-served to put any glass furniture (e.g. glass coffee table) in storage for a few years, or simply get rid of it for a more child-friendly material. We don't have glass furniture because, while I love glass tables, my husband fell on one when he was two, thankfully not injuring himself, but it was a close call and he now harbors a mild fear of glass furniture as a result. Anyway, we have a baby so case closed.
  • Cover all electrical outlet with child-proof covers. The more commonly found plastic plugs are easily pried out, particularly if you have an extremely persistent child (guilty as charged). 
  • If you must have houseplants, place them out of the baby's reach and become very familiar with every one of your plants' names and potential effects if ingested. It's the 21st century people, if you're reading this you can google your plants; it takes a couple of minutes and could save you so much grief.
  • If you use a crib bumper, remove it when your baby can get on all fours as he might use it to climb over the side of the crib. Seems unlikely, but you don't want to find out the hard way.
  • Secure heavy stand-alone furniture such as shelves and commodes to the walls so your child cannot topple them if he/she tries to climb up on them. By the same token, try to hide or securely cover all appliance cords (IKEA has cord tubing for this specific purpose) so that your child cannot either pull table-top appliances off surfaces or items such as audio/stereo equipment off their perches - try to position those things far back and high away from your child's reach to begin with. If, by some miracle, you still have a VHS player or more likely, a CD player, find a guard to put in front of their "openings"; most of us are old enough to remember at least one baby "feeding" the VCR...
  • On gates and guards: If you have any heating units or a fireplace, position gates or guards to prevent the baby from crawling too close to them, for obvious reasons.
  • If you have any staircases that are more than two stairs, install a hardware-mounted gate, meaning a gate that fastens directly on the wall and uses a latch to open and shut, rather than a pressure-mounted gate that works through a mechanism of two sliding panels designed to reach the opening dimension and lock by pressure. Pressure-mounted gates are fine between two rooms on the same level but are not recommended at the tops of stairs.
Of course, these are not all the things you could possibly think of, but it's a good list to start with. If there are any other obvious things missing, please feel free to add them

With the holidays upon us, take care that your safety checks include such things as menorahs (brass and candles) or christmas trees (pine needles, ornaments - i.e. small breakable objects, tree lights, etc...).

Most importantly, if you feel overwhelmed at the idea of doing all of this, remember that you can do it progressively while your baby is still stationary and that just a bit of prevention can avoid emergency room visits later.

Happy proofing and Happy Holidays!

This post was written by Hilda

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Great post and very important. We have friends that had one room for living/dining/kitchen and kept all bottles, glasses and dishes at baby level in open shelving; I thought "that's either ridiculously dangerous or the baby will be so used to seeing them she'll not even be curious to touch." For them it worked out with baby #1, but who knows for baby #2. Better safe than sorry, I say. My son would pull open the cabinet with the spices & bouillon cubes and eat what was in there.

Jamie said...
December 17, 2009 at 10:17:00 AM GMT+1  

Funnily when I had V, I never really got around to baby proof the house like I originally wanted ie. buy the plastic corner for tables, cabinet locks, electric point cover etc. Perhaps V is such a good baby. However I did point out to her the dangers of playing with electric points and stuff. As for cabinet, V likes to ransack my kitchen cabinet, so I used kitchen towels to secure the doors. :) And if you have book shelves, do watch your baby carefully because they love to climb it. I had my back turned just for 5 minutes and found V up on the 3rd shelf of our bookcase. They are that fast. Oh, they also do love to tear down your books, CDs, DVDs from the shelves with glee. If you do have stairs, do teach your child how to go up and down safely as soon as they can crawl. Until she/he knows how to do it, always keep the baby gate up. Please note that some babies are pretty smart in working out the baby gate.

December 17, 2009 at 9:55:00 PM GMT+1  

Great post! Another thing we always hear of here is to mAke sure buckets are covered or out of reach. It only takes a couple of inches of water and babies can't right themselves if they fall in headfirst. Oh and toilet seat locks are a good idea too when the little scientists start conducting flotation experiments with things like toothbrushes!

shaz said...
December 18, 2009 at 4:20:00 AM GMT+1  

swow great post
Keep posting stuff like this i really like it.

sewa mobil said...
April 17, 2010 at 6:35:00 AM GMT+2  

thanks for the info and explanation provided

May 24, 2010 at 9:18:00 AM GMT+2  

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