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June 21, 2018

12 Things to Consider When Babyproofing Your House

I like to think I am handy.  The operative word according to my wife is "think."  Well, I do love watching HGTV and wish I could do all those DIY home improvements they make look so easy.  So, when it came to safety proofing our house for our daughter, I figured I could lend a hand.  After all I am a pediatrician.  I have given advice on the topic thousands of time.

As my daughter Aubrey was becoming more and more mobile I decided to start with a safety gate on our stairwell. I went to our local hardware store, bought a gate, and with my trusty sidekick Aubrey, laying next to me, laid out all the pieces and went to work.   My wife walked by, smirked and said sarcastically, “good luck,” and walked downstairs.

As I was sweating, intently reading the instructions trying to figure out the installation, I felt a shadow looming over me.  Then I heard my wife say calmly, “you are a wonderful dad, I love you."  I thought to myself what any husband would think- Uh, oh, what did I do wrong? Before I could respond to my wife, she said, “Look at your daughter.”  I turned and saw Aubrey laying happily on her stomach kicking her feet and smiling.  She was holding three long screws in one hand and the screwdriver in the other.  She was also lying on about ten screws I had dumped out of the package.  I had been so preoccupied reading the instructions that I stopped paying attention.

I quickly learned my first rule in safety proofing.  Don’t forget to safety proof even when you are safety proofing.  

So, when it is your turn to safety proof your house here are some things to consider.  Usually we recommend safety proofing prior to your child becoming mobile. Since infants start to crawl around 8 months of age you may want to start between 6-8 months old.

  • Lock up all poisons and dangerous items.
  • Put safety lids on all trash cans, including the small ones in the bathroom where such items as disposable razors are discarded.  Or place them high enough that your child can’t reach them.
  • Put safety locks on toilet seats.
  • Affix window blind cords to the wall or tie them up (to prevent strangulation).
  • Block off stairways and space heaters.
  • Put locks on all windows.
  • Put plastic covers on all electrical outlets.
  • Cover sharp edges of furniture with padding.
  • Place your pet’s water bowl somewhere where your infant can’t reach it (to prevent drowning)
  • Place all visitor’s bags and purses up high out of reach from your child (to prevent accidental ingestions of medication and other poisonous materials).
  • Place locks on drawers especially those in the kitchen that contain sharp objects like knives or other dangerous items.  Consider leaving a couple of drawers unlocked to encourage your child to play in them.  For example, if they can open and play with a drawer full of their plastic plates, bowls, or Tupperware they are less likely to try to get into the dangerous ones.
  • Fix all heavy cabinets, bookshelves, dressers, and TV stands to the wall (to prevent your child from pulling them over onto themselves).

When in doubt put your baby on the floor and follow them around the house.  They will show you all things they are not suppose to get into.  If you are not handy, like me, there are plenty of professional services that will safety proof for you or you can call my wife and father in law who ended up completing the job for me.
For more information on safety proofing and much much more, see Dr. Cohen's bookEat Sleep Poop A Common Sense Guide to your Baby's First Year  


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