Getting Real with Shadra Bruce
It’s somewhat ironic, in my mind, that as my youngest child is talking about college choices and making requests for her 15th birthday that I’m writing about home safety for babies…but it’s for a delightful reason: my beautiful 15-month old granddaughter and her parents live with us. We have a big, old rambling house that would feel impossibly quiet were it not for the twist of fate that has allowed for the pitter patter of little feet long after I could handle being a new mom again.
But now that we have a very curious, exploring toddler in the house, we’re reminded of how many places are safety issues. If you really want to make your home is safe, I recommend getting down on your hands and knees and crawling around – it’s an interesting perspective shift and makes it easy to see what might attract the curiosity of a young wanderer.
Put It Out of Reach
The easiest way to start baby proofing is to simply move anything you don’t want the baby to get her hands on out of reach. Higher shelves, locking cabinets, and out-of-the-way cupboards work for keeping little fingers from getting her hands on things she shouldn’t. Use bolts to attach any high chests or tables to the wall to prevent them from tipping over.
Make It Hard to Get To
From putting the little plastic covers in all of your outlets to installing a gate around your radiator (we have boiler heat with steam radiators that will scald little hands), make it impossible for baby to get to the things that cause danger. There are several quick and easy fixes you can do to make your house baby-safe: tie the cords on window blinds up and out of the grasp of small hands, move furniture away from windows (especially in the nursery) and buy a baby gate (or several), especially if you have a staircase.
Buy with Caution
New car seats are safer than used, and make sure the toys you buy aren’t imported from China. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) sends out a routine e-mail listing recalled products, and you can add yourself to the distribution list at www.cpsc.gov/cpsclist.aspx or visit their Web site at http://www.recalls.gov/ to check out specific items you have questions about.
Create Safe Zones
Your baby will need freedom to explore, so make sure there are spaces where she can wander and touch. Put locks on doors with rooms full of potential hazards, like offices, storerooms or garages – and use those locks. For Hallie, we bought a “baby jail” – a wonderful safe place where she could explore, and also a place where mom or dad could put her down for a minute without worrying what she would get into. It’s actually called a KidZone Baby Playpen, but “baby jail” was way more fun.
Whether it’s bath time or play time in the baby pool, never leave your child unattended in the water.
NEVER LEAVE YOUR CHILD UNATTENDED IN THE WATER.
Bathtime is the time for parents to be absolutely single-minded. No phones. No distractions. Be at the side of the tub at all times. Forget something? Bummer. Have someone else get it or live without it. Do all the other safety stuff – make sure the temperature is right and use safe products – but the most important thing you can do to keep baby safe is never even look away when they’re in the tub.
Having a baby in the house again is so much fun – especially since this time, I can hand her over to mom and dad when I’m tired, and I never have to get up in the middle of the night.
Make home safe for baby so you can relax and enjoy the experience.