If you are eagerly anticipating a new addition to your family, babyproofing your home is a must. It's easier to create a safe environment for your baby than you may think, and there have been major improvements in child safety products in the last few years.
Start Before Your Child Is Crawling
It's easy to put babyproofing your home on that list of things to get to later, although ideally you should start when you're pregnant and before he (or she) actually arrives. When baby does arrive you will be giving him almost all your time and attention, leaving little time to worry about how safe your home actually is for them. Keep in mind the typical baby will be crawling when six months old, although even before then they can roll themselves across the room and into potential trouble. Effectively babyproofing your home ahead of time can prevent your baby becoming one of the 4 million a year who are treated in the emergency room due to an accident. As soon as you can, show your baby the unsafe areas in your home such as the stove, toilet and trash cans.
Lengthen the Life of Your Babyproofing
Many parents are amazed to discover their newborn baby is smarter than they thought, and is able to open a levered door handle before they can even walk. Keep in mind most child safety features are meant to be a deterrent, and you may have to warn your baby off these devices, as well as use them yourself while making sure that he can't see you do it and learn from your example.
Off Limits Rooms
Rather than give your child the freedom to go everywhere, designating off limits rooms will teach him to respect rules and boundaries, as well as keeping him safe. The garage, guest room, basement, terrace or deck, office or the bedroom of an older sibling are all obvious off limits areas, as well as any room decorated with potentially harmful objects.
Common Home Hazards
Some home hazards are obvious, although every home can have potentially hundreds of dangers for a newborn baby. The areas below are the most common ones:
Use cord control kits and sliding outlet covers, as well as covers for power strips. Locate GFCI outlets in areas that come in contact with water.
Large or heavy pieces of furniture can easily topple over when pulled on or climbed on, especially those that can have all the drawers open at the same time. They should all be anchored safely to the wall. And keep in mind the possibility of an earthquake in southern California.
Safety gates and window guards should be installed in your home wherever needed, as well as cut Plexiglass on your deck and stair banisters. All mats and rugs should have a non skid bottom to them, and you should never stack piles of toys or books too high, or let your baby play unattended on a deck, balcony or loft.
Chemicals and Pets
Medicines, chemicals and cleaning supplies should be stored securely in a locked cabinet, preferably high up. Pet doors should be closed and you should be careful with your baby around strange or unsupervised pets. A sleeping cat or dog can actually smother a baby.
Choking and Strangulation
Check your home carefully for any choking or strangulation hazards that may not immediately be obvious, such as toys for older children, handbags, belts and purses hanging on hooks, toilet bolt covers, dangling blind cords and small rubber door stops.
As well as a pool cover, a house alarm is also recommended, alerting you to the house door being opened. To avoid scalding, keep your water heater at 120 degrees F, and after rain, look for pooled water in planters or buckets. Keep the bathroom door locked; your child can easily get stuck or drown in the toilet.
Get into the habit of watching your baby, knowing where he is and always being careful when others may want to pick him up. Exercise common sense around the stove; for example don't leave pans on a hot stove, and be aware of what you are watching on TV when baby is present.
One useful tool is to carry out a walk-through of your home to make sure it is adequately baby proofed. Pay attention to the items above, and check all safety gates, locked doors and drawers, safety locks, appliances, potential tipping or choking hazards, and the pool and outdoor area.
To minimize the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, pay particular attention to the nursery. Your crib should meet all the current safety standards, including the headboard, rails and mattress and the nursery should be at a comfortable temperature, and equipped with a baby monitor.
Fire and Health
Of course your home should have smoke detectors, fire alarms and extinguishers as well as fire escape ladders. It's recommended to install natural gas detectors and carbon monoxide detectors, and you should have the phone number of your closest poison control center. Keep a disaster kit ready to use, and consider taking a CPR or first aid class.