When my husband and I had children in the last half of the 20th century, baby-proofing our home consisted of getting a gate to block the stairway, covering all the electrical outlets, and adding safety clips to kitchen and bathroom cupboards so curious toddlers couldn’t open them. Now that our son and daughter-in-law have an almost one-year-old, I’m learning about how much more can be done to prevent accidents and make a home safer. What once took an hour or two is now a major project for young couples.
You can find numerous safety checklists online, and some of the best ones break down the tasks by room and/or the child’s age. Starting in the bedroom, you want to make sure the crib meets today’s safety standards and is kept away from a window. Windows should have guards on them, and large glass areas should be marked with colorful sticks so toddlers won’t try to run through them.
In the bathroom, my son and his wife installed a safety guard on the toilet (I wish we had that in my day!) and the medicine cabinet. Some people also have anti-scald devices on the tub and shower faucets.
Lots of accidents can happen in the kitchen, but you can keep your child safe by adding safety latches to cupboards and the refrigerator, putting a cover over the garbage disposal, and installing plastic stove knobs that make it impossible to turn on a burner or the oven.
For the entire house, I already mentioned the safety gates and covering electrical outlets, but you should also install bumpers on sharp edges and corners of side and coffee tables. Tethering TVs, dressers, bookcases and desks (things that might topple) with straps is recommended, along with removing window blind cords and replacing them with safer tassels.
Finally, poison-proofing your home requires nothing more than a little common sense. Cleaning products, laundry and dishwasher pods, medicines, and hand sanitizers should be placed out of reach. When people come to visit, make sure their personal items are also in a safe place.
There’s a good summary of all the things you can do around the house at Safe Stars’ website. What I’ve learned from chasing after an 11-month-old is there’s absolutely no substitute for keeping both eyes on the child at all times…and it can be a lot of fun, too!