We just welcomed our first grandchild into our family. We couldn’t be happier but with this joy comes the worry. As a pediatric nurse practitioner who cares for injured children, I constantly think about how to keep children safe. According to experts, the home is the most common place injuries occur for children ages 1-5 years. It doesn’t matter whether you are an expecting parent or new grandparent it’s never too early to start childproofing! Common household items can cause serious harm and as adults our job is to keep children safe. “Where to begin” is the most frequently asked question.
Start your baby proofing by getting down on the floor to see how your home looks from the eye level of a child. You may find small things hidden under furniture that could be dangerous or a choking hazard. Cover all outlets with covers that are not a choking hazard and when possible move furniture to block access. Put locks on cabinets and store unsafe cleaners and chemicals somewhere completely out of reach. In homes with multiple children of differing ages, avoid toys with small parts that younger children could choke on or swallow.
Never leave a child alone in a high chair or in a seat on a countertop or table. When changing diapers, keep your hand on the baby at all times lest they roll off the changing table. Secure down anything heavy. Children can be curious climbers. TV’s, bookshelves, dressers can easily come toppling down on an unsuspecting toddler who may be trying to climb. Tie up cords or fasten to a wall. Electrical wires from lamps or TVs are an alluring hazard that you don’t want your child tugging on.
Keep medications locked up. This is especially important to think about when traveling to visit grandparents or older adults as medication may be left out, or some bottles may not have child proof caps. Have a safe sleeping place for your child. Do not recycle old cribs. They may not meet safety standards. Infants should sleep on their backs without anything else in their cribs. Do not allow a child to sleep in your bed.
These are only some examples of ways to childproof a home. Different ages present different issues. There are resources available such as checklists and websites that can help identify missed risk areas while trying to make your home safe.