Bringing a new baby home from the hospital is a great moment for parents. But as a child settles into his or her new home, parents look around that home and see less “home” and more “hazard.” Kids are going to get some bumps and bruises along the way, but it’s still important that parents childproof their homes to keep such instances to a minimum and ensure that trips and falls don’t lead to something far worse than just some scrapes and tears.
Childproofing a home is typically more difficult for first-time parents who don’t have the trained eye for hazard spots that parents of one or more children feel is second nature. But a practical approach to childproofing a home can keep kids safe and let parents rest easy knowing their youngsters are safe. The following are just a handful of the many ways parents can make their homes safer for newborns and young children.
• Turn down the water heater. Young children are susceptible to burns from hot water, even if that water temperature is perfectly fine for the rest of the family. Mayo Clinic recommends setting the temperature on the hot water heater to below 120 F and installing antiscald devices on bathtubs and showerheads. In addition, always test the water before your child gets into the tub.
• Store potentially dangerous household items up high. Childproof locks on cupboards and drawers can be an effective deterrent to curious babies, but parents should never underestimate just how inquisitive some youngsters can be. To safeguard especially curious kids from their own behaviors, always store potentially harmful household items in high cabinets that little boys and girls won’t be able to reach. Knives, household cleaners and scissors are just a few items that should be stored well beyond kids’ reach until they have clearly demonstrated they can handle such objects without cause for concern.
• Remove magnets from the refrigerator. Small magnets on a refrigerator often fall off when doors are open or closed. Babies or toddlers can easily find such magnets, which then become a choking hazard. Kids should not be in the kitchen anyway, but curious kids have a way of finding their way into rooms parents try to make off-limits, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.
• Secure flat-screen televisions. The televisions of yesteryear were so heavy that many adults couldn’t even move them without help. Not so for today’s flat-screen televisions, which are not only lightweight but also easily tipped over thanks to their often top-heavy structure. Such televisions should be mounted to the wall or kept high off the ground where kids can’t reach them. Televisions that aren’t wall-mounted or those that are close to the ground are far more likely to tip over when curious kids go exploring.
• Keep cribs away from the window. Cribs should never be kept near a window, where cords hanging from blinds present a choking hazard. In addition, cribs located too close to a window can expose babies to the elements, potentially upsetting their rest and making them susceptible to sunburn.