Childproofing 101

Childproofing 101: 5 Tips to Tackle Before You Childproof

 

As a new parent, it’s often difficult to strike a balance between overwhelming joy and a panic of confusion and self-doubt.  Since there are a million and one things to prepare for and think about, we often neglect to focus on the one thing that matters most: our children’s safety.  According to Safe Kids Worldwide, unintentional injury is the number one killer of America’s children between the ages of 1 and 4 claiming more lives than both violence and all disease combined.  The good news is, by taking childproofing precautions, it is estimated that 90 percent of these injuries can be avoided.  Educate yourself about potential home safety hazards so you can do all you can to keep your child safe and out of the ER.

Get Ahead of the Curve: Childproof During Pregnancy

It’s ideal to check childproofing off the list while still pregnant, when your time is still your own and sleep is plentiful, however, most new parents consider childproofing “something they’ll get to later” and then “later” they find themselves in a panic when the baby begins to crawl.  A new child requires an inordinate amount of time and attention, your days rush by at a rapid pace and before you know it your child is mobile!  Be proactive and get parental peace-of-mind by childproofing during pregnancy.  The average baby begins to crawl at about six months, at which point the job of parenting becomes more exciting, as well as, terrifying when your child no longer stays where you put him.  Some industrious infants can roll before they sit up and surprisingly lay some serious tread all the way across the room! That said, your little one’s curiosity sans (yet to be developed) common sense, propels him into harm’s way time and time again and it’s your job to be one step ahead of your little one paving the way of safety.  The shocking stats don’t lie. Can you afford to procrastinate?

Injury Prevention Power Pack:

Childproofing + Education + Discipline + Supervision = Less ER Trips!

While childproofing is not a replacement for vigilant supervision, childproofing combined with proactive parenting can go a long way toward preventing needless injury.  Childproofing combined with frequent teaching moments, loving age-appropriate discipline, and vigilant supervision will make for a much safer household. Even before your baby can explore on his own, teach him what is safe and what is dangerous by showing him examples of each around your home.  These frequent teaching moments will feel redundant to you but the repetition will be impactful on your child.  All safety devices, the stove, trash can, toilet and doggy door are all “no no’s” and can cause “boo boos.”  Choose your vernacular and stick with it; in fact share it you’re your husband (and nanny/babysitter) for consistency with your baby. If your child plays with the child safety devices you have installed don’t allow it; explain that it’s dangerous and remove him from the area. Still playing with it? Then next steps are age appropriate loving discipline (i.e. time out for playing in safety gate).  Remember the shocking statistics; this is serious business. It’s never too early to start this critical instruction so start early and keep it up, altering the explanation as your child grows keeping the message of safety poignant, yet still age appropriate.

Lengthen the Life of Your Childproofing

Childproofing is a measure employed by parents to slow down the child giving them time to intervene and remove child from danger. Given enough time alone with some child safety devices little ones can figure it out and “MacGyver” their way through the barriers.  Aghast at the thought of this?  Don’t forget that they have been studying you for months watching your every move and the moment their little bodies catch up with their minds it doesn’t take much for some to have it all wired.  Babies who aren’t even walking yet can open levered door handles, which shocks many parents. So after childproofing your home, be sure to operate all child safety devices with your back to your child to keep the little one in the dark hence lengthening the life of your childproofing.

Establish Off-Limits Rooms


The most cost effective and quickest way to childproof is to limit your child’s access to certain parts of the home and disallow access to areas that are neither safe nor appropriate for babies/children.  The guest room, garage, laundry room, loft, terrace, older sibling’s room, office, gym, utility room, craft room and rooms under construction should be “off limits” for babies and need to be secured with door locks.  Two layers of protection is a good back-up for extra dangerous rooms (i.e. garage, laundry room, gym, bathroom, etc.) as people living in busy households can inadvertently fail to close doors every time. A child that learns to respect what is “not their property” will learn necessary boundaries and be more likely to behave better when you visit other homes, stores, etc.  A child given free reign to get into everything will have a harder time learning what is “hands off” and more than likely fall in harm’s way more often.   These principles can be imparted early to babies.  No unsupervised entry into bathrooms until you’re well into potty training your child, so locks all baths, toilet and magnetic cabinets to stop a curious baby happens upon an open door.   All home perimeter doors leading to the outside or garage or basement should have flip locks installed up high so a baby and/or toddler do not have outdoors access without permission. These locks also keep them from answering the door when someone rings the bell.

Think Like a Child

Children are the most outside-of-the-box creative thinkers.  They often use items in ways in which they were never intended to be used; this often leads little ones into harm’s way.  If you can train your mind to see things through their eyes you might be able to head off some unsafe situations and eliminate your home’s hidden hazards.

NOTE: More than *four million children end up in the emergency room each year as a result of accidents. The good news is *90% of these accidents could have been avoided. (*SafeKids.org)

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