How to baby-proof your home

You have set up your nursery, bought all sorts of baby clothing, baby furniture and baby paraphernalia, and think you are ready to bring baby home from the hospital. But have you thought through all the precautions you must take with a new baby? And even more precautions once baby starts crawling? It’s amazing the trouble such a little person can get into if you look away for even a second.

Whether you live in Vancouver or anywhere in the world, you need a plan. Start by just eyeballing your house and try to put yourself into your baby’s tiny shoes. Walk room to room. What could your darling get into that could cause them harm? When you are finished, do it all again, and invite some experienced eyes over to look for hazards you may have missed. Here is a list to get you started. This list is far from complete, but it will get you thinking.

Cupboards, cabinets and doors

Put childproof latches on all cupboards cabinets and doors. Make sure they are of a type that latch automatically. Otherwise, the day you forget to close the latch is the day your baby will decide to open a door to the cupboard where you keep the bleach.

Poison control

Prominently post Vancouver emergency numbers (or those of your closest emergency services) in an accessible place such as the wall of your kitchen near a phone. Right next to it, post first aid instructions and instructions explaining what to do if your baby eats something poisonous

Fire warnings and prevention

If you have not yet taken the time to do all your can to fireproof your house and to set up an alarm system, do that first thing today.

  • Set up smoke detectors that beep if the battery is dying. Check the detectors every month. Put it on your calendar.
  • Put a fire extinguisher in every level of your house, especially the kitchen.
  • Plan how you will get out of the house if there is a fire. What if that way is blocked? Plan alternatives.
  • Check that your light bulbs ae not too hot for the lamps, and that they are not near anything flammable such as curtains.

Paint

Lead paint has not been used in some time, but it may still be present in some older houses. If your paint is peeling or you are otherwise concerned, call a contractor experienced in lead removal.

Furniture

Furniture that poses no hazard to an adult can be dangerous for a crawling baby. Look for sharp edges and cover them. Also, beware of rocking chairs and chairs that recline. Baby’s tiny fingers could be crushed if you are not vigilant.

Area rugs

It’s hard enough learning to walk without doing it on an unstable surface. Some area rugs can be surprisingly slippery. If you have area rugs, put nonslip pads underneath.

Baby gates

Though you don’t need to have your baby gates up by the time you return from the hospital, it’s best to place them at the tops of stairs and at the entrance to other dangerous places as soon as you can. It won’t be that long before baby is crawling! Make sure the gate does not have any collapsible parts that can pinch baby’s fingers and other body parts.

Water heater

Babies are much more sensitive than you are to burns, so you want to do all you can to protect your baby from scalding. Turn down your water heater to a level safe for a baby. You can live with the inconvenience until baby is a bit older.

Bathtub

Babies are too small and helpless to bathe in your own bathtub. Buy an infant bathtub that is small and slip-resistant.

Bassinet and crib

Some parents put their babies directly into a crib, while others let baby sleep for awhile in a bassinet. If you would like the baby to sleep in your room, a bassinet is smaller and more portable, even though baby will outgrow it quickly. Whichever you choose, make sure

  • There are no sharp edges
  • The bassinet or crib is stable, and any legs are locked.
  • The mattress is firm.
  • Has sturdy bottom and wide, stable base.
  • There are no fluffy, soft items that could suffocate the baby such as pillows or fluffy comforters.
  • For a crib, the slats should be no more than 2 and 3/8 inches apart.

Changing table

Do all you can to guard your baby against falling off their changing table. It should have a safety strap and a guardrail all around it. The middle should be lower than the sides in a concave shape. Be sure all you need (lotions, diapers, etc.) is at hand, so you do not need to leave your baby even for a second. Put the changing table on a soft surface such as a rug in case the worse happens, and the child falls

Electrical outlets

Babies don’t understand the dangers of electricity and are as likely to try to put a metal spoon in a socket as in their mouths. Be absolutely certain that all your outlets are covered with sliding plates or other safety features.

Baby-proof your Windows

Make sure your windows have window stops so the window does not drop on the baby. While you’re at it, make sure baby is not near a drafty window.

Baby-proof your home far in advance

Some items we discuss should be done before you bring the baby home, but others can wait until your baby is crawling. Babies usually start to crawl at around eight months old, but there are always baby proteges who start early. It’s best to baby-proof your home far in advance of the need, so you can relax… at least as much as you can relax with a little one around.

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