A new parent’s guide to baby-proofing the house.
Photo by Jep Gambardella
It’s not uncommon for new parents to feel a little overwhelmed. You’re not sleeping much, your schedule is thrown off, and you might discover something new to worry about every five minutes – including the fact that each year, about 2,000 children under the age of 14 die from a home injury.
Many of those children are babies and toddlers.
That statistic isn’t meant to add to your fear or concerns. Rather, it’s to remind you of the importance of baby-proofing your house. Yes, it’s one more thing to put on your list, and when you’re already exhausted, that can feel easier said than done. But, above everything else, your baby’s safety should be your top priority. Baby-proofing now will reduce your stress later, and you’ll feel more comfortable once your little one becomes mobile, knowing they can’t get into anything that could harm them. While you can’t keep them inside a bubble, there are things you can do at home to lower the risk of your baby getting hurt.
Let’s cover a few baby-proofing tips that could keep your little bundle of joy safe once they start crawling or walking.
Stop the risk of shocks
According to the Electrical Safety Foundation, 2,400 children suffer from electrical shock each year from sticking metal objects into electrical receptacles. Most homes have several electrical outlets in each room, giving little ones ample opportunities to “explore” and attempt to stick something inside the receptacles.
While covers can provide a temporary fix, they aren’t as secure as most people think. If a child wants to stick something inside an outlet, it’s very easy for them to remove a plastic cover. These covers can then become a choking hazard.
Instead, consider tamper-resistant receptacles.
Tamper-resistant receptacles are different from other child-proofing solutions because they can’t “come off”. Nothing is covering the exterior of the outlet. Rather, these receptacles only allow a plug to be put into the outlet when equal pressure is applied. If your child tries to stick a key or pin into the socket, it won’t go in thanks to the spring-loaded shutter plates blocking the outlet.
Fix your furniture
As your little one starts to crawl or walk, they’re not going to be stable right away. While it might be cute to see a toddler trying to balance each step as they stroll forward, that can be a risk for trips, falls, or bumping into things.
The best thing you can do to help them as they start to move around is to create a secure environment that will lower the chances of them getting hurt.
For starters, consider changing the layout of your home or the room where your child spends the most time. Only include must-have baby items and furniture, not only for the design but also for your child’s safety. Designing a more open feel for the room will give them ample space to move around freely without the risk of tripping or bumping into things.
Elsewhere in the house, you can lower that risk by:
- Using safety straps for furniture and appliances
- Adding soft corner cushions to furniture with edges and corners
- Securing rugs and cords to the floor with tape
- Securing items with wheels so they can’t be pushed or knocked over
It’s also a good idea to latch or lock any drawers and cupboards your child might get into and tie up any strings and cords attached to blinds and curtains. If you have plants sitting around the house, consider putting them out of reach until your child is old enough to know not to touch them. These might seem like minor details, but when your child is young and curious, everything becomes an item to explore. It’s up to you to make sure they can foster that curiosity safely at home.
Expect the unexpected
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your child could get hurt. Accidents happen, which is why it’s so important not to overlook the preparedness part of baby-proofing. That starts with something as simple as having a first-aid kit in the house and extends to making sure you have adequate medical care for your baby or toddler.
Finding a trusted pediatrician is crucial. If your child gets sick or injured, knowing you can take them to the doctor right away can ease your mind. But it’s also a good idea to locate and research local pediatric urgent care centers, too. Your child’s doctor probably isn’t going to be available 24/7. If an emergency occurs after hours, an urgent care center that takes care of kids can offer you peace of mind. Most urgent care centers can treat:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Minor burns
- Ear infections
- Sore throats
- Broken bones
In addition to forming a relationship with a pediatrician and knowing how to get emergency care, you’ll make life easier for yourself by having all of your child’s medical information in one place. That includes numbers for their doctor, any medications they’re on, allergies, special needs, and other important medical information. Keeping it organized will make life easier for you and will help you to relay information as needed to your child’s doctor or any other healthcare professional.
If all of this sounds overwhelming, take a deep breath. Think about keeping your little ones as safe as possible, and what you can do to eliminate dangers for them at home. When you do, you’ll breathe a little easier, and can enjoy every second with them, rather than worrying about ways they could hurt themselves.