Before you baby-proof your home, try crawling around on all fours and "thinking" like your baby, advises Flaura Koplin Winston, MD, PhD, director of TraumaLink at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. To save wear and tear on your knees, here's a room-by-room guide to get you started.
1. Bedding: Put baby on his back to sleep; avoid soft bedding that might suffocate him. Crib slats should be 2-3/8 inches apart or less so head can't get trapped.
2. Changing Table: Use a sturdy table with 2-inch guardrails on all sides. Always use a safety strap; keep supplies within reach.
3. Crib toys: Remove mobiles and gyms when baby is 5 months old or can push up on hands and knees.
4. Window cords: Never place a crib near windows; cut looped chains or blind cords in half to avoid strangulation.
5. Toy chests: Use chests without lids or with supports that hold a lid open in any position.
6. Balls, balloons, other small toys: Keep away from crib to avoid choking risk.
1. Bathtub: Never leave your child unattended in a bathtub or bath ring. Install no-slip strips on the bottom of the tub.
2. Toilets: Install lid locks on all toilets and keep the lid closed to prevent drowning and to keep the lid from slamming on your baby's head or hands.
3. Medicine cabinet: Keep all medicines in containers with safety caps and store them in a locked cabinet.
4. Electrical appliances: Unplug hair dryers, razors, and other devices when not in use, and store them out of reach.
5. Water: To prevent scalding, set your hot water heater to a maximum of 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
1. Cleaners and other dangerous products: Store these products in a high cabinet. If you have to keep them under the sink, use a childproof lock on the cabinet doors.
2. High chairs: Always use restraining straps that run around your child's waist and between his legs to keep him from sliding out.
3. Microwaves: Avoid heating baby bottles in microwave ovens. The liquid heats unevenly, leaving pockets of milk potentially hot enough to scald your baby's mouth.
4. Fire extinguishers: Keep one on hand, mounted in a conspicuous place.
5. Drawers: Make sure all drawers have stops, so that your baby or toddler can't pull the drawer out on top of himself. Also, keep sharp instruments in a latched drawer separate from safe kitchen utensils.
1. Electrical cords: Tie up or tape down long electrical cords. Put safety plugs in all unused electrical outlets.
2. Floors: Carpeted stairs will prevent slipping. Check floors constantly for small objects that a baby might swallow, such as coins, buttons, beads, pins, and screws.
3. Furniture: Cushion hard edges and sharp corners. If possible, move sharp-edged pieces away from high traffic areas. Anchor down unsteady pieces of furniture, such as bookcases.
1. Tools and chemicals: Keep all paints, varnishes, and dangerous tools out of reach. Storage areas should be locked and off-limits. Unplug all power tools after use.
2. Garage doors: Automatic garage door openers that do not automatically reverse upon contact with an object should be repaired or replaced with new openers that reverse in order to prevent young children from being trapped and killed under closing garage doors.
SOURCES: Your Home Can Be Hazardous to Your Child's Health. U.S. Product
Safety Commission. Childproofing Checklist: Child's Bedroom. American Academy
of Pediatrics. 2000. Childproofing Checklist: General Principles. American
Academy of Pediatrics. 2000. Childproofing Checklist: The Bathroom. American
Academy of Pediatrics. 2000. Non Reversing Garage Door Openers A Hazard.
Consumer Product Safety Commission Document #523
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