Babies are naturally curious creatures, and that curiosity helps them learn, grow and develop into smart little people. Unfortunately, at the very least, curiosity can drive parents insane, and at the worst, be harmful and dangerous if your house isn’t properly prepared. So, before your mobile mess-making unit starts crawling, there are some things you’ll want to do to keep your house and baby safe…
1. Check your floors (and all the space below three feet off the floor) for small objects that could pose a choking or poison hazard. Anything your baby can grab is going straight in her mouth! Check under the furniture, around vents, between the couch cushions, etc. Babies are insanely curious, and if they can get their hand inside of an area, they will do it! Common items to look out for are loose change, small toys, loose screws, jewelry, perfumes, shoe and fingernail polish, and batteries.
2. If you have breakable items, (like vases, ceramics, and picture frames), they will need to be moved up out of reach. Take special care, though, that they are REALLY out of reach! After your baby starts pulling up, she’ll also start trying to climb up on top of furniture to reach things that catch her eye. If you have a curio cabinet, lock it. If you have CDs or DVDs low enough for a toddler to reach, move them. Alternately, you could just get a storage unit and move all your nice things in there for the next 18 years.
3. Furniture like bookcases, entertainment centers, and shelving need to be secured to the wall with brackets, to prevent them from tipping over. Babies will pull up on, and later climb on, anything and everything in their path. Cover any sharp corners with corner guards.
4. Power cords need to be either well hidden, or secured as well. Little ones can strangle themselves or trip over cords and cables. They can also pull down electronics by their cords, and some will even chew on cords or pull on power plugs. Don’t forget to use outlet covers for any open sockets. (Make sure the cords to the window blinds are tied up high, too!) Table cloths and placemats can be also be pulled down, along with whatever is on top of them. If you choose to use either or both, make sure there’s nothing else on the table that might hurt your child if it were to fall on top of her.
5. If you have the two-piece doorstops, you’ll need to replace those with something safer. They come apart really easily in curious little hands, and present a choking hazard.
6. When possible, use the back burners on the stove instead of front burners, and always turn your pot handles inward, toward the back of the stove. And try not to hold your child while you cook; multitasking is great, but not when extreme heat is involved.
7. Knives and glassware should either be in above your child’s reach or in drawers or cabinets with child-safety locks, as should any cleaning supplies, medications, and cosmetics (in the kitchen, bathroom, and anywhere else they might be stored). As a matter of fact, you might want to go ahead and put child-safety locks on ALL the drawers, whether or not they contain anything dangerous. Kids can use pulled out drawers as steps to climb up onto the counters. You should also put your garbage receptacles behind a latched door or make sure it has a secure child-proof lid. Child safety gates are a good choice to close off high risk areas like the bathroom, kitchen, laundry room, and both the top and bottom of stairs.
8. Make sure you don’t leave mop water or bath water unattended within your child’s reach. Children can drown in an inch of water. You’ll also want to install toilet seat locks to prevent drowning, and set the thermostat on your water heater to 120 degrees or lower to prevent burns.
9. Don’t neglect the attraction of the more mundane items! Soaps or shampoos left on the edge of the tub, baby powder or diaper rash ointment from the diaper bag or changing table, ink pens or lipstick or loose change from your purse, your make-up bag, shaving cream, etc. —all are fair game if your baby can reach them.
Don’t worry; someday you’ll be able to have the house and decor you so desire. Someday.