Sometimes all it takes to see the world in a scary light is to bring home your new baby whom you are in charge of protecting and keeping safe. And yes- while it's important to educate yourself on potential risks that are all around and what you can do to protect your child, it’s equally important to relax and not become consumed by paranoia.
While much of baby proofing simply requires some common sense, there may also be hidden hazards around you that you just aren’t considering. Take a tour of your house from your baby’s perspective. That means you should crawl if you have to. You may be surprised how this slight change of perspective will assist you in noticing a whole other realm of potential risks to your baby.
As your baby and his level of independence grow, you will have to adapt your baby proofing methods. Once they begin walking and reaching, there will be more items requiring safeguarding. But don’t stress, because as their grasp of learning and understanding grows, you will be able back off on some of the earlier baby proofing methods. And while parenting requires constant vigilance, baby proofing your home will provide you with some sense of security in knowing that your baby has a safe environment in which to explore. Once you have pinpointed and removed the potential hazards in your home, including some often overlooked dangers listed below, take the time to encourage your child to explore their world and have an adventure.
7 Hot Water
When it comes to being scalded, it’s not just hot water boiling on the stove or in a kettle that you need to be concerned about. Tap water scalds occur most often in the bathroom and are associated with more deaths and injuries in children than those caused by other hot liquids.
Burns occurring from exposure to tap water tend to be more severe and cover a larger portion of the body. When filling the bathtub for your baby, be sure to do so while your baby is not yet in the tub. Even if the water is running warm, you never know when an unexpected temperature change may occur without you even realizing. And if your baby is sitting near the water flow, scalding may be unavoidable.
Once the bath is filled, check the water temperature by placing your whole hand in the tub, spreading out your fingers and moving your hand back and forth to check for hot spots.
Take Further Action
To take further steps to avoid accidental scalding, set your water heater to a temperature of 120F or below. If there are no numbers visible on your water heater, place the setting between medium and low. If you are uncertain about how to take care of this yourself, hire a plumber.
Also, there are anti-scald faucets on the market. They are installed in order to protect your baby from this specific hazard. They automatically shut off the water flow when the water exceeds a specific temperature.
6 Entertaining Hazards
If being a party animal has been your way of life – that doesn’t have to change just because there’s a baby in the picture. All that has to change is your level of awareness and vigilance when it comes to the safety of your child.
When it comes to entertaining and baby proofing, remember that just because your child’s safety is your top priority, doesn’t mean it will be top on the mind for your guests too. It’s up to you to be vigilant to ensure your child is safe and to remind your guests. As guests arrive, be sure to stow purses and coats somewhere curious children won’t have access to them. There’s no telling what sorts of choking hazards await in coat pockets and purses. Not to mention medications and prescription drugs.
If young children will be attending the get-together as well, consider hiring a responsible teenager to watch them. Have fun activities planned in another area that will keep the kids occupied and away from the grown-ups.
When the Party’s Over
After the party is over, think about cleaning up immediately. Seemingly innocuous trash can be a potential threat to the health and well-being of your child. Cigarette butts in ashtrays and left-over alcoholic drinks are extremely toxic to your curious little munchkin and should be tossed as soon as possible.
Even after you are finished tidying, do an extra-picky scan of your house from your baby’s perspective. You never know what you may find on the floor or under the couch. Even a crumpled up cocktail napkin can be a choking hazard to your little one.
Ingestion of household plants by children under the age of five is one of the leading causes of inquiry to the poison control centre. That said, it is possible for toddlers and houseplants to safely coexist under one roof. It just requires some research and maybe a bit of furniture rearrangement.
Your first step should be to identify and label all plants and flowers in your home. If you are having trouble, take unidentified plants to your local nursery or florist and they can help you.
There are many household plants and flowers that are severely poisonous if ingested by a child or pet which is where the labelling will come in handy. A few toxic plants that you may not even be aware of include: poinsettias, oleanders, philodendrons and castor bean to name a few. If you believe your child has eaten a toxic plant, it’s imperative to call poison control immediately and identify which plant was ingested. If going to the hospital, be sure to bring a piece of the plant as well.
Something else you should practice is to consistently remind your child to never eat any plants they find growing. This also includes vegetables from your garden. Until your children are a certain age, it’s safest for them not to have to try to figure out what is okay to pick and eat themselves and what is not.
Other Potential Hazards
Even if not toxic, plants can be a choking hazard to your little explorer which is why you should consider moving all plants out of reach. Just make sure dangling tendrils aren’t within reach of chubby fingers. Falling flower pots could definitely cause some damage to your little one.
4 Pet Supplies
There are many benefits for children who grow up with pets. Loving a pet encourages responsibility and can boost your child’s self-esteem as well as decrease their chances of developing allergies. However, having both a pet and a baby in your home will require extra vigilance when it comes to baby proofing.
It’s important to remember that no matter how patient and tender your family pet usually is, they are still capable of inflicting harm on your child. This is why you should never leave your baby and pet alone together no matter what. It’s also not a good idea to allow your pet and baby to share a bed.
Pet food and water bowls are another risk for you to consider. If your baby sees the dog or cat munching on kibble, they may be enticed to try it as well. Come feeding time for your pet, keep the baby away and be sure to stand guard until your animal has finished and you can remove the bowls. Even the gentlest of pets can become possessive of their food which is why it’s important to keep your baby away.
Keep in Mind
It may not be on your radar, but when it comes to a potential pet hazard, don’t overlook an aquarium. It may be a source of wonder to your child, but it can also pose a drowning risk. As well, ensure an aquarium is placed up high and out of reach so your child can’t accidentally knock it down.
It’s basic common sense not to leave your child unattended around water. And by water, you are probably thinking about - pools, bathtubs, hot tubs, and ponds – but not necessarily toilets.
As ridiculous as it may seem, these bathroom fixtures can pose a great danger to your baby. Not only are they full of disgusting germs, but a curious and top-heavy baby can easily topple into one and not be able to right themselves.A quick and simple solution is to always keep toilet lids as well as bathroom doors securely closed. But for this to be effective, you have to ensure that everyone in your home follows suit, including visitors.
When it comes to toilet safety, be sure to check the fixture base as well. Ensure bolt covers cannot be removed as they can pose a choking hazard to your child. And the bolts they are covering may be sharp and rusty which you would not want little mouths and hands near.
A Few More Tips
When it comes to the bathroom, it’s important to instill some basic rules for your child to follow. Make sure they understand not to flush foreign items down the toilet and that the toilet paper roll is not a toy. Otherwise you may end up with a real mess on your hands.
Receiving hand-me-down items from well-intentioned friends and family is a great way to recycle and save money. But it’s important to know the facts before putting any to use.
Cribs made before September 1986 are no longer considered safe to use. If you have received a second-hand crib, be sure to locate the date of manufacture to ensure it falls under the current safety standards. Various models of cribs and playpens have been recalled in the past due to safety concerns. Be sure to check model numbers and ensure they have not been recalled in the past before you place your baby in them.
You also want to make sure that any item you receive has not been damaged and possibly compromised in terms of safety. It’s important to know where these items have come from and do your homework before accepting them for your child’s use.
When it comes to second-hand toys, it’s important to ensure they have not been banned or are not made with unsafe materials. Keep an eye out for small parts that can be considered a choking hazard for your little one.
Be on the Lookout
Many products designed for babies have been banned over the years for a variety of valid reasons. Walkers with wheels as well as some bath seats have been deemed unsafe and are no longer made or sold. If a well-intentioned friend or family member has given you an item that has since been banned, don’t feel you have to accept it. Also, be wary of products originating from other countries. Not all countries have the same safety standards found in Canada and the U.S.
1 Window Coverings
Most babies begin crawling around the eight-month mark – some even earlier – and dangling cords from your window coverings may not be high on your radar as a potential threat but they should be. They dangle and swing and may even have little knobs on the end – in other words, the perfect plaything for your little munchkin to grab a hold of.
The cords themselves pose a definite strangulation hazard as baby can easily become entangled. And if there are knobs on the ends, that’s a double threat for possible choking as well. If replacement isn’t in your budget, don’t stress. Fortunately, there are plenty of options for baby proofing your window coverings. The easiest and most sure-fire prevention tip is to remove any cords: cut them off, tie them out of reach or remove the window coverings altogether. It doesn’t have to be forever – just until your baby gets a bit older.
Safety kits designed specifically for the purpose of babyproofing window coverings are available at children safety stores as well as at shops selling window treatments. This may be something worth considering as well.
A Few More Considerations
Cords aren’t the only worry when it comes to window coverings and curious babies. If you have long drapes in your home, definitely do not use spring-loaded or pressure-mounted rods which can easily be pulled down. It’s also important to ensure curtain rods and hardware are securely installed into wooden studs so that if your peanut grabs hold and pulls, heavy items won’t come toppling down. And don’t forget to make sure the rods don’t have removable caps on the end that can pose a choking hazard.