Important Tips for Child Proofing Your Home
Do you have kids? Have family or friends with kids that come over often? If you answered yes to any of these questions, this article is for you!
We've collected a bunch of child proofing tips from the experts to help you make sure your place is safe and secure for your little munchkins.
Ages and Stages
Before we get going on child proofing tips, it's important to think about the age of the kids that are at your house and their current stage of development. Securing your house for a 6-month-old who's just learning to crawl, for example, will be very different than child-proofing for an active and inquisitive 2-year-old.
Think about your home from the child's perspective. How high can they reach? What potentially dangerous items are in their field of view and within their grasp? Often, just getting down on their level and looking around from their perspective will help you identify a number of potential problem areas that need to be addressed.
Chances are you have an array of hazardous and toxic substances in your home. Whether they're for personal use (medicines, alcohol, etc.), pest control (ant traps), or household purposes (cleaning, laundry, etc.), they pose a threat to little ones. Especially those that pique their curiosity by putting everything in their mouthes!
Poison control recommends you place these items in a locked cabinet or box, ideally in a high area that would be difficult for children to reach.
Even mouthwash can be extremely toxic if taken in large quantities. And sometimes, substances you don't even think about can be an issue. We've heard stories of toddlers getting into and eating diaper cream, for example.
Here's a great list of substances that are potentially harmful to children.
Naps, Not Zaps: Power Outlets and Electrical Devices
Power outlets are a major threat to children. Most people know that toddlers sticking their fingers and/or items into electrical sockets will cause electrical shock. But did you know that just as many instances of electrical shock amongst toddlers is caused when they bite into electrical cords? It's important to factor-in both of these threats when assessing how to child proof for electrical shocks in your home.
It's always a good idea to upgrade all your plugs to child-proof outlets, like these ones. Additionally, if some of your power outlets are empty, install safety covers as an added precaution.
Preventing toddlers from biting into electrical cords is a bit more tricky. If you know your tot is one who likes to test the world around them through stuffing everything in their mouth, you'll want to be extra vigilant here.
One step you can take is to make sure electrical cords are out of sight (hidden behind furniture if possible, or organized with zip ties or cord conduits). It's also important to unplug devices that aren't used often to minimize the risk.
Mind Those Stairs
This is probably one of the first areas that comes to mind when thinking about kid proofing your home because it's so common for toddlers to injure themselves from falling down stairs.
If the children are younger than the age of 6, it's highly recommended to install safety gates on the stairs. What gates you choose to use will be highly dependent a couple factors.
More permanent gates that anchor into the wall, bannister, or stairs are generally going to be more robust. But at the same time, they're generally a little more expensive, installation can be tricky if you aren't handy, and they're not really a viable option if you're just child proofing for when other people visit you.
The other option is a stair gate that is more mobile. These are handy because there is generally no installation, you can move them around the house as different needs arise, and they're usually more affordable than their more permanent counterparts. On the downside, they tend to be a little more flimsy and sometimes more awkward to open/close.
Overall, it's suggested that you routinely test your baby gates to make sure they're operating well and are able to withstand the onslaught of a toddler trying to get past them.
It's also a good idea to teach toddlers how to properly climb stairs, regardless of whether you have gates in place. Check out this article for some tips on how to teach your toddler to safely climb down stairs.
Doors, Drawers, and More
Sometimes, a toddlers problem-solving skills can be impressive. But, they can also lead them into trouble. Consider the fact that your tot might figure out how to open doors, drawers and cupboards and then think about what potentially dangerous items are in there waiting for them.
There's a whole bunch of devices out there to help child proof all the doors in your home, each with advantages and drawbacks. The biggest drawback to most of the door child proof systems is that they work so well, it may inhibit you from efficiently opening the doors you're looking to secure. We highly suggest testing these devices before buying to make sure they are a good fit for your needs.
Move the Valuables / Breakables
Time for a new decor challenge! Look around and identify all your things that are valuable and/or breakable and potentially in the path of destruction of your toddler. Yep, you guessed it. Time to take those items and put them in a place that's not accessible to the kids.
The usual suspects such as vases, planters, and any china should be tended to for sure. But, did you think about things like cords dangling from your window fixtures, or your dogs porcelain feeding bowl? There's a whole bevy of household items that can potentially be dangerous.
Designated Play Area
This one is constantly recommended by the experts. A basic DIY play area can be such a life saver when you’re trying to have some separation between the adults and the kids. And, it's a safe-zone for the kids where they can play without any hazards.
Ensure the area isn’t too far away from the action though otherwise younger children will gravitate toward their parents again. If you set up a small play space near the kitchen, kids can see and interact with you but also play on their own while you work.
It's a great idea to place some foam mats on the floor and have a selection of toys and games that the kids love. You'll be amazed how much they gravitate towards that area!