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Question: Our daughter is crawling and exploring, and we are scrambling to baby-proof the house. What areas might we be overlooking?

Answer: When you go through and baby proof your home, you will probably pay special attention to certain areas such as the nursery, bathroom and kitchen. But some safety rules and preventive measures are applied to each premises.

Here are some precautions against common household hazards that can protect your child and the whole family:

  • Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors throughout the home, at least one on each level and outside bedrooms. Check them monthly to make sure they are still working. If possible, install a network of smoke detectors so that if one goes off, they all go off. Develop a fire evacuation plan and practice it.
  • Insert non-choking protective plugs into all electrical outlets that are not in use. It protects against electric shock preventing your child from inserting a finger or toy into the holes. If your child won’t stay away from outlets, block access to them with furniture. Keep electrical cords out of reach and sight.
  • Avoid window coverings with cords to prevent strangulation. If your blinds or shades are not cordless, attach their cords to floor anchors that keep them taut, or wrap those cords around wall brackets to keep them out of reach. Use the safety clips on the cords.
  • Always check the floor for small objects that could be dangerous if a child swallows them. Examples include coins, beads, buttons, pins, and pills that can cause choking or poisoning. The best way to check is to get down to your child’s level and see what’s there.
  • Know which items in your home contain button or lithium batteries and keep them out of the reach of children. If inhaled or swallowed, these small batteries can cause rapid, life-threatening damage to the esophagus or intestines. They are found in many common household and personal products, such as small remote controls, key chains, cameras, garage door openers, flameless candles, watches, toys, and hearing aids.
  • Check the furniture for stability and the risk of tipping over. Children can be seriously injured or even killed if they climb on, fall on, or pull themselves up on large pieces of furniture such as bookshelves and chests of drawers. Place floor lamps behind other furniture and attach bookcases, chests of drawers and TV stands to the wall.
  • To prevent falling from windows, open windows from the top if possible. If you must open them from the bottom, install window guards that can only be opened from the inside by an adult or an older child. The screen is not strong enough to prevent falls. Never put chairs, sofas, low tables and other things that a child can climb on in front of the window.
  • Never leave plastic bags lying around the house. They can suffocate children. Also, do not store toys and other items in plastic bags. Dry cleaning bags are especially dangerous. Tie them before throwing them away so your baby can’t crawl into them or pull them over their head. Even a small detached piece can be a potential choking hazard.
  • Think about the potential hazards of everything you throw in the trash. Any rubbish bin used for potentially hazardous items – spoiled food, discarded razor batteries – should have a child-proof lid or be kept out of the reach of children.
  • To prevent burns, check fireplaces, wood stoves, kerosene heaters, and other heat sources in your home. They should be shielded so that your child cannot get close to them. Gas fireplaces with glass doors get very hot and can cause severe burns when touched. Check electric heaters, radiators, and even hot air furnace vents to see how hot they get. They may also need to be checked.
  • The safest home for a child is a home without weapons. If you have a gun, it is very important to keep it unloaded in a closed case and the ammunition in a separate place.
  • Install security locks on all cabinets containing cleaning liquids or other hazardous items. Also, keep all medications (including those you may carry in your purse) out of reach. Do not rely on child safety caps to protect your child from getting into medicine bottles.
  • Keep all alcoholic beverages in a locked cabinet and remember to pour out any unused beverages immediately. Alcohol can be toxic to a small child. Don’t forget to also store liquid nicotine for vaping and edible marijuana products out of reach.
  • Install safety gates at both the top and bottom of the stairs as your child learns to crawl and walk. Avoid accordion-style gates that can trap your arm or neck. Instead, use a gate that is firmly attached to the studs of the house. Also, to prevent slips and falls, consider carpeting the stairs. Make sure the rug is firmly secured around the edges. If you have hardwood floors, don’t let your child run around in socks as this can cause them to slip.
  • Note the door between the rooms. Glass doors pose a particular danger, as a child may trip over them. If possible, fasten them open. Revolving doors can knock down a small child, and folding doors can pinch little fingers. Consider removing them until your child is old enough to understand how they work.
  • Check for furniture with hard sides and sharp corners that could injure a child (coffee tables are a particular hazard). If possible, remove hazardous furniture from traffic areas, especially if you the child learn to walk. You can also purchase soft corners and edges that stick to furniture.

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Citation: Ask a pediatrician: How should parents protect their home from children? (October 3, 2022) Retrieved October 3, 2022, from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-10-pediatrician-parents-childproof-home.html

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