Babies by nature are explorers. They reach, grasp, “mouth”, sit, roll, crawl, and “cruise” along objects of interest. Babies are curious about different textures and shapes and brightly colored objects easily attract babies’ attention. Unfortunately, many small, easily accessible objects pose a choking risk or may be poisonous if ingested. Given such risk, often parents must take precautions to “babyproof” their homes. This is particularly true as an infant grows into toddlerhood and becomes more mobile, additional precautions are needed to childproof areas where little explorers “cruise”.
To babyproof your home, you’ll need to protect your nursery, kitchen, bathroom & any other place where your baby will be exploring.
To protect a baby’s nursery—ensure that the mattress fits the crib or bassinet snugly. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), about 35 babies every year suffocate or strangle in cribs that don’t meet current safety standards or when they become trapped between broken crib parts.
Precautions in the kitchen include using child resistant caps on bottles; using the back burners on the stoves; applying high chair straps; putting a lid on the trashcan; switching from hazardous chemicals such as chlorine bleach to vinegar.
In the bathroom never leave your child unattended, even for a second. Babies have drowned in less than an inch of water so use 2-3 inches of water for baths and stay with your baby at all times. Use a thermometer to heat the water to 90 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and to avoid excessive temperatures, set your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Teach children to not touch faucet handles; use a bath mat to avoid slipping; practice having playtime first then using soaps, shampoos, bath salts sparingly and at the end of bath time.
For the other places your baby will be “cruising” or crawling, be sure to apply child safety locks to doors and windows. The locks are useful for babies from 6-25 months of age.
In addition to taking these precautions, a few other common sense approaches also help reduce the risk of injury. Specifically, there is no substitute for parental supervision. Also, to help you to see what things look like from a baby’s or toddler’s perspective and will be attracted to, get on your hands and knees. Also, once they’re walking, again get on your knees and look up to counters, cabinets, to see what they’ll be grasping to reach.
In the case of an accident or emergency, the best advice is to be prepared; know what to do & who to call. For instance, make a list of important contacts such as the National Poison Control toll-free number: 1-800-222-1222. Also, take classes to learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the Heimlich maneuver. Finally, maintain a supply of first aid items such as Band-Aids, gauze and anti-bacterial ointments.
It’s never too early to plan to be safe. Your baby’s life could depend on it.