When we think about keeping our children safe and healthy, some things that may come to mind are making sure they are getting enough sleep or that they are getting the proper nutrition. We may not necessarily think of our homes as being an unsafe environment for our children, but the truth is, if not addressed appropriately, your home could be the cause of an accidental injury to your baby. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 9.2 million children visit the emergency department for an unintentional injury annually. To minimize the chances of an unintentional injury, it is vital to ensure that your house have been properly ‘baby proofed” to keep your children safe.
Once your little one is born and as they continue to grow and become mobile, it’s important to look at each room in your house and determine what changes need to be made to ensure your child is in a safe environment. Here are a few tips on how to baby proof some of the rooms in your house:
- Cribs should be free of bumpers, blankets, pillows and/or stuffed animals.
- Be sure to remove mobiles once your child is strong enough to pull themselves up and stand.
- Install covers for outlets (this is important throughout the entire house!).
- A baby monitor is great to have so you can keep an eye on your child as they sleep. It is important to make sure the cords are not near or within reach of your child.
TIP: Keep your child’s toys within reach in an open toy box that does not have a lid or baskets that are kept at your child’s level. This will minimize the risk that a lid will shut on their hands or that they will climb on something and potentially fall and hurt themselves.
- Young children love to twist and turn knobs. Ensure you have appropriate covers over stove/oven knobs that are within a child’s reach.
- Keep your fridge closed tight by adding non-permanent hooks and an elastic band.
- Install safety latches for low cabinets, especially ones with household chemicals or kitchen ware that should not be accessible to children.
TIP: Children love to play with pots and pans. Designate a drawer that your child would be able to access and fill it with safe, colorful plastic bottles, containers or items that you don’t mind your child playing with. While you are cooking dinner, or doing the dishes, your child will be able to keep themselves busy and within eyesight of you!
- Always check the water temperature before bathing your child. Families may find it helpful to invest in a thermometer to ensure the water is warm enough but not too hot to burn the baby.
- Install toilet locks.
- Ensure that medicines and supplements are well out of reach of children.
- Straighteners and curling irons should be out of reach of children, including the cords of these items so that your child cannot pull them down and accidentally get burned.
TIP: Tubs can be very slippery so families may want to invest in a rubber bath mat to provide more secure seating. Families should also think about purchasing a spout cover to provide cushion to protect your child’s head.
Throughout the house, it is important to ensure that each room and the furniture is child friendly. This may mean your family may need to do a bit of redecorating! Items that are breakable should be removed or displayed out of reach of your child. Families should also be sure that objects with sharp edges, such as table and counter corners or the ledge of a fireplace are covered with edge cushions to avoid bumps on the head. A great way to ensure children stay out of areas or rooms that shouldn’t be in would be to add doorknob covers or installing baby gates to keep them out of those rooms.
The best defense against unintentional accidents is to ensure that your child is always properly supervised. Unfortunately, no matter how prepared families are, sometimes accidents still happen. We suggest that families also prepare and ensure they have a first aid kit readily available. It would also be wise to have a list of important phone numbers such as poison control, your child’s doctor’s office, and the contact information for the parents, neighbors or close-by family. Though we hope families will never need to use these skills, families should take the time to learn CPR should they ever find themselves in a situation where it is necessary.