Childproofing: What Do You Need?
Most new parents know they need to take steps to protect their child from household dangers, but it seems like there's a new childproofing gadget invented every minute. How do you know what you need? Every home is different, and every child, even from week to week, will have different abilities and interests.
See Your Home Through Your Child's Eyes
To begin, get down on your hands and knees and tour your house from your child's point of view. Open everything you can and look for hard corners that can bump heads as well as anything that can burn or shock, or that contain water. Look for any openings wider than two inches where a child could get stuck or fall in, like stairways, railings and operable windows.
Make a Hazard List
Take notes as you go and keep in mind that even if your child can't quite reach it now, it's only a matter of time until he can. Once you have your hazards list, do some online research to find the best solutions.
Don't Forget the Whole Family
You can child-lock or shield anything, from toilets to refrigerators to electronics, but you want to find solutions the rest of the family can live with.
Childproof the Whole House
There are several ways to keep cabinets and doors closed, including magnetic locks you can't see. Rather than the plug-in socket shields, which some children are able to remove, try more permanent sliding outlet covers. Furniture anchor straps are great for keeping TVs, dressers and shelves from being pulled over. Safety gates are essential at stair openings, but you might also want one around the wood stove or fireplace.
Get Started Today
Some child safety measures don't cost anything. Turn your water heater's thermostat down to 125 degrees to prevent scalding. Lock your windows. And move all toiletries and medicines out of reach. While you're at it, remove any toxic cleaners and chemicals from the living areas of your home altogether. Replace them with non-toxic biodegradable products. These are better for your family and the environment, and you won't have to worry nearly as much about poisoning.
Conduct Regular Check-Ups
No matter what you choose to install, do a safety check every six months to be sure you're still covered as your child grows. And remember that no gadget protects your child better than your teaching and supervision.