There are some things that are known to be absolutely essential when it comes to childproofing a home. The installation of items such as safety latches, electrical outlet covers and toilet seat locks are among those things that most of us know are critical to providing a safe home environment for baby.
But there are other preventative measures that can be taken to keep little ones protected from household hazards, and some of those strategies and dangerous items may not immediately come to mind when you start childproofing.
Here’s what you should know:
- Beware of button cell batteries – The small, round lithium batteries used in remotes, toys and games are extremely dangerous for baby. “If swallowed, the battery could get stuck in the esophagus where saliva can trigger an electrical current, that causes a chemical reaction, that can severely burn baby’s esophagus in as little as two hours,” says Debra Holtzman, child safety expert and author of the book The Safe Baby: A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Home Safety and Healthy Living. Use duct tape to secure the battery compartments of all items in your home that require these batteries, and then put them out of reach.
- Be strategic with safety gates – Get your gates up before baby becomes a crawler. When choosing gates, keep in mind that only hardware mounted safety gates should be used at the top and bottom of stairs in your home. Holtzman warns that a pressure bar gate (the kind that attaches to the wall with pressure instead of screws) should never be used at the top of stairs because it could give way if your little one pushes on it. Those gates are best used in hallways or for separating rooms.
- Dump the detergent pods – Those brightly colored packs of dishwasher or laundry detergent could look like candy or juice to your crawler or walker. “I recommend that parents avoid using laundry detergent pods if they have children under the age of six,” says Holtzman. Nearly 12,000 cases of laundry packet exposures involving children under six were reported to poison control centers in 2014.
- Go cordless – Replace any blinds, shades or other window treatments with cords as they pose a strangulation hazard to your baby. In the nursery, create a cord-free zone near baby’s crib by keeping corded baby monitors (and any other items with cords, strings or ribbons) at least three feet away from any part of the crib. Apply the same rule to any area in your home where baby naps.
- Prevent drowning hazards – Crawlers and walkers can both drown in as little as one inch of water because they are top heavy and don’t have the upper body strength needed to lift themselves out of dangerous drowning situations. That means that toilets, buckets, sinks, coolers and bathtubs can all pose an in-home drowning risk to your little one. Be sure to store all buckets upside down, empty ice out of coolers, keep toilet lids closed and use toilet seat locks, and remember to always drain water out of the bathtub. Make it a rule to always stay attentive and within arms reach whenever baby is anywhere near water.