Let your baby safely explore with these tips.
Babies and toddlers need to explore. It’s an important part of their development. They learn through their senses, and take great joy in putting things in their mouths, grabbing, and touching. You want your child (or your grandchild) to have that freedom to explore. That’s why it’s essential to baby proof your home.
The first thing you can do to ready your home for a baby or toddler is to get down on the floor, crawl around, and explore it the way they do. You may be surprised by what you find – small batteries that can be swallowed, furniture that tips, objects that can shatter, unguarded stairs to the basement, and so much more.
Take action on any dangers you find, and use the following guidelines (and the checklist in the sidebar) to help you keep baby safe.
Keep small objects out of reach. Parents need to develop a keen eye for spotting and removing small objects that may present choking hazards. Some may not be readily apparent – like the small plastic ends on doorstops, for example, which come off easily. Tip: if an object fits through a toilet paper tube, it is too small for a young child to handle.
Make sure toys don’t have small parts, or “button” batteries. Infants and toddlers can and do pull these off, put them in their mouths, and choke. Button batteries also contain mercury and acid, and can harm your baby’s health if they are swallowed. (Be aware that button batteries are also found in computer games, and other gadgets.)
Always supervise baby in the bathroom. Bathrooms contain many items harmful to infants – razors, cosmetics, soaps, electrical appliances, and water. Children can drown in two inches of water, and tubs, toilet bowls and buckets all pose a hazard.
Put items where infants can’t reach them, purchase a toilet bowl latch, and never leave water in the tub or a bucket. Your best insurance, however, may be to close and latch your bathroom door, and train your family to do the same.
Never leave infants alone with pets. Your dog or cat may be calm by nature, but animals can be unpredictable around young children (and their playmates), so it’s best to play it safe.
Infants may be attracted to your pet’s food, which could spark aggression or pose a choking and health risk (salmonella) if swallowed. So feed your pets in a place that’s inaccessible (or block off the area with a gate). The same applies to cat litter!
Stay alert during visits with friends and family. When guests coming calling at your house, make sure their purses and bags are securely tucked away. They may contain medication or other potentially dangerous items that baby can get into.
When you go to other homes, scan for dangers and remove breakable items. Remember, this is new territory for your baby to explore, so keep a watchful eye.
And finally, remain with your child at all times. Remember nothing can replace an always-watchful parent who can spot trouble before it happens and respond quickly if it does occur.
Candace Passey and Nancy Doherty are program coordinators at the Peterborough Family Resource Centre. Candice is the busy mom of a one-year old, and Nancy is the proud grandmother of a four-month-old baby girl.
Home Safety Checklist
√ Use plug covers on electrical outlets; wrap up the slack of electrical cords and hide behind furniture
√ Tie and place blind cords out of baby’s reach, or use cordless window coverings; keep cribs, furniture and toys away from windows and window cords
√ Secure all furniture so it will not topple on your child
√ Install hardware mounted gates (which are more secure than pressure mounted) at the top and bottom of stairs
√ Put latches on doors to keep kids out of certain rooms
√ Lock away medicines, cleaning products and poisons, and ensure houseplants are out of reach
√ Turn water heater down to 49°C (120°F), and test baby’s bath water with elbow or wrist to ensure it’s warm, not hot
√ Don’t allow smoking – it’s harmful to your infant and butts are poisonous