Babies and toddlers are curious by nature—even when it’s dangerous. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls, burns, poisoning, drowning and road traffic are a leading cause of injury and even death in this young age group.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to make your home and living areas safer for your baby, starting with these doctor-recommended babyproofing precautions:
- Anchor furniture to the wall using straps or brackets. If it can be pulled down (think flat screen TVs and tall china cabinets), it’s a possible deadly hazard for babies and toddlers.
- De-clutter your home. Get down on your child’s eye level and remove small objects that could be choking hazards.
- Use baby gates to block stairways and create boundaries. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, falls are the fifth-leading cause of accidental death in children 1-4 years old. Babies and toddlers love to explore and climb, and stairs are very inviting, so block them off at the top and bottom with baby gates. You can also opt for childproof doorknobs and closed doors instead of gates. Keep in mind that close supervision is still needed as it only takes one instance of forgetting to close that door for an accident or injury to occur.
- Use childproof latches on drawers, cabinets and doorknobs. Many household chemicals and cleaners are poisonous, so make sure there is no access to storage areas in your kitchen, bathrooms, and closets.
- Secure all blinds and electrical cords in your home. Don’t leave cords hanging within your child’s reach. They are a hazard for both choking and fall injuries.
- Keep all medications, household cleaners, pesticides, toiletries, and alcoholic beverages out of reach. For a list of common household poisons, visit the Poison Control website.
- Keep the Poison Control telephone number (1-800-222-1222) on speed dial on your cell phones and home phone, and on hand for babysitters. If your child ingests anything you aren’t sure about (even houseplants or mushrooms), the American Association of Poison Control Centers will put your mind at ease or let you know when you have a real emergency.
- Babyproof your kitchen. Keep knives out of reach, and secure tabletop appliances.
- Cover electrical outlets within your child’s reach with safety caps.
- Don’t leave your child unattended in the bathtub or near any container of liquid. Babies and infants can drown in less than a quart of water. The CDC reports that drowning is the leading cause of injury and death for children ages 1-4.
- Practice pool safety if your home has a swimming pool.
- If you can afford the expense, hire a professional childproofer.
Remember, even the best babyproofing does not take the place of constant adult supervision. It is impossible to stay one step ahead of a curious child.
- Get down on your baby’s level when baby proofing and look for hazards at ground level.
- Consider drowning, falls, burns, choking and poisoning when determining possible hazards.
- Drownings are the leading cause of injury death for young children ages 1 to 4.
- Babyproofing is not a substitute for supervision.