Practical, low cost/no cost ways to make your home safer for baby!
So now your little one is on all fours, engines running, ready to go! We’re going to continue baby-proofing from the bottom up – because those are where the risks are – right at ground zero, until your baby is walking and climbing.
Absolute musts: electrical outlet covers, anti-tip straps, locked egress to pools/spas, secure gate around pool/spa.
Key concept: baby proof about 2 months before your baby reaches the next challenge – this helps us practice and train ourselves to change old habits, and old locations for furniture and objects.
During this phase of childproofing, I would ask you all to get on all fours, or lay on the floor and see your home from a baby’s perspective.
FLOOR LEVEL: here’s where carpet lives, hardwood floors and tile, heating and a/c grates, thresholds, wires and plugs, and undersides of furniture and bottom drawers live. Your floors are a virtual treasure trove for your little one. This is the first place your baby will truly explore, so making things at floor level safe, but stimulating, is the name of the game.
· Carpet – make sure you regularly vacuum and shampoo carpets. Grab a hammer and go around the periphery of your carpeted rooms and tap down any nails that might have surfaced. Maintain and clean area rugs as well for baby’s health and safety.
o If you drop ANYTHING on the carpet, especially small objects like coins, buttons, earring backs, medications, tacks, even food (like nuts or candy) immediately retrieve the fallen object. Those will all find their way into baby’s mouth – guaranteed!
· Hardwood floors – keep clean and make sure nailheads are firmly tapped down on floors, mouldings and thresholds so little knees don’t snag.
· Tile – repair any grout that is missing or sharp so little hands don’t get hurt.
· Heating and a/c grates: make sure screws are tightly sunk – replace those that come out easily –they are a choking and puncture risk. Also, put large pieces of furniture in front of grates if the heat is used often so as to avoid contact burns with metal grates.
· Wires – wires from electronics should be tucked behind furniture out of baby’s reach. If one particular room in your home holds most of the electronics, close the door and make that room off limits for baby.
o Make sure dangling wires are attached to furniture, walls or desks, even with Velcro, to avoid strangulation risks
· Outlets – the least expensive, and yet most effective way to keep your baby from accidental shock is to purchase outlet covers AND INSTALL THEM for each and every outlet in your home that is within 3 feet of the floor. Best to do this before your baby crawls, to train yourself to consistently keep them covered! A package of 36 at your home store costs about $3.
o if you have tall torchere lamps, put them behind chairs or other furniture so baby can’t pull up on them and pull them down.
o Check the undersides of sofas, chairs and tables for exposed staples or nails, or wood splinters. Repair those immediately – babies love to explore these places.
o Bookshelves, heavy dressers and entertainment centers, and all TVs should have anti-tip straps attached behind and secured to studs in the wall – these are typically less than $10 – injuries from accidental tip-overs and entrapment are very prevalent.
· Bottom Drawers – babies are very curious and observant, and they love to open and shut drawers, and love to explore the contents inside. Take a look at your drawers in your kitchen, bathrooms, family room, baby’s room and your bedrooms. Best tip is to give your baby access to a bottom drawer full of soft or playful objects, that are safe, as well!
o Bedrooms and baths: Soft goods like towels, clothing and paper goods are safe in the bottom drawers. Toothpaste, medications, makeup, mouthwash (again, loaded with alcohol) any liquids without childproof caps, must be put up and out of baby’s reach. CLOSE THE BATHROOM DOORS WHEN NOT IN USE TO AVOID BABY PULLING UP TO THE TOILET AND TIPPING OVER HEAD FIRST (drownings are common this way!)
§ Poisons and cleaning materials under the sink should be put in an upper cabinet! Don’t trust locks, and child latches – they fail, or humans fail to close doors securely. If you don’t have upper cabinets, consider installing TotLocks instead of latches. High risk cabinets can only be opened with a TotLock magnet.
o Kitchen: make sure your “junk drawer” full of small objects has been moved upward, and things like kitchen towels, plastic ware, wooden spoons, rolling pins, canned goods, and pots and pans occupy the bottom drawers. Place flavor extracts (100% alcohol), beans, rice, and small pastas up as well – they are choking and poisoning risk.
§ Poisons and cleaning materials under the sink should be put in an upper cabinet! Don’t trust locks, and child latches – locks fail, and humans fail to close doors securely. The serrated edges of foil, plastic wrap and other kitchen papers can cut baby, and plastic bags and wrap are suffocation risks.
§ Train yourself NOW to primarily cook on the back burners with pot handles facing backwards to avoid accidental burns and hot spatters.
· Fireplaces and corners – replace andirons and grates with a screen and make sure your fireplace is clean, the flue is functional, and if a gas fireplace, that the key to turn on the gas is not left in place. Corners and edges of the fireplace can be padded, or made less accessible with gates. Sharp corners on coffee tables can be padded, or just stored until your little one is older.
· Balconies and decks – if there are vertical slats, they should be no wider than a soda can (so baby’s head or limbs can’t become entrapped, or baby or pets can’t fall through). If your slats are horizontal, they are essentially a ladder to the other side! Removable mesh rail covers are available to block any exits from humans or animals. The second best option is to keep the egress to the deck or balcony locked and not allow children or pets on a deck or balcony.
UP HIGH: Consider placing slide bolts or other securing devices on your doors leading to the outside or garage, ESPECIALLY if you have a pool, spa, pond, or if your yard is contiguous with neighbors. Again, training yourself to be diligent for a few months before your baby is a super fast crawler will help you instinctively protect these areas.