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Infants » Discipline and Guidance

Child Proofing Your Home

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Reprinted with permission from Vicki Lansky

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Obviously, there’s no way to childproof a house 100 percent, but, for starters, get down on the floor on your hands and knees. Crawl through the route your child uses (or will use – you’ll want to childproof BEFORE he or she starts moving); grab and pull on everything within your reach.

You’ll discover, objects just right to swallow, sharp edges on the undersides of furniture and loads of things that will break off or fall over. Remember, too, that childproofing (and childwatching!) when you’re visiting others will be YOUR responsibility.

The Kitchen Stove:

  • Turn all saucepan handles to the rear of the stove.

  • Turn on the oven light when the oven’s in use and teach children that “light on means hands off.” Leave the light on until the oven is cool.

  • Remove stove knobs, if you can, or tape them so they can’t be turned on by children.

  • Back a chair up to the stove for a young cook’s helper and let him or her stand or kneel on it. The chair back provides a “barrier,” (You’re RIGHT THERE, of course.)

  • Let children stir food on the stove with long-handled wooden spoons; wood doesn’t transmit heat.

  • Always set a timer when you’re cooking with kids around. Children are distracting, and you can easily forget and cause a fire or ruin food.

Around the Kitchen

  • Tuck cords safely behind kitchen appliances so kids can’t pull the appliances down on themselves.

  • Use safety locks on drawers and cupboards. Several brands are available in hardware stores. Or you can run a yardstick through some kinds of drawer and cabinet handles or use metal shower rings or blanket clips, at least for a few months.

  • Use wet paper toweling or paper napkins to pick up small pieces of broken glass the broom doesn’t get so young crawlers won’t cut hands and knees.  Also vacuum as well.

  • Let children use plastic or paper cups instead of breakable glasses and china mugs.

  • Store plastic cups in a drawer rather than in a cupboard. For the child who’s able to reach the faucet with a stool, they’ll be easier to get at.

  • Move all cleaning supplies from that accessible space under the sink (store plastic containers and pans the kids can play with there instead) and LOCK THEM UP! If you don’t use Mr. Yuk stickers, paint the caps of dangerous materials with red nail polish and teach children that RED means DANGER.

  • Beware of a child tasting detergent from the soap cup in the dishwasher; add it only when you’re ready to start the machine.

  • Prevent smashed toes by keeping shoes on a child who will be pulling cans or heavy objects from a kitchen cupboard.

  • Don’t use tablecloths until your child in the highchair is past the grabbing stage.

  • Make loops of strong shoelaces and attach then to the back rounds of the highchair (and also the stroller and car seat) and run a belt through them to keep your child from climbing out.

The Bathroom

The potential for poisoning in the bathroom is perhaps even greater than in the kitchen. A locking medicine chest is well worth the inconvenience it causes adults, and Mr. Yuk Stickers give additional protective warning. Cleaning supplies, as well as medicines, must be locked up or put out of reach. Consider moving all medicines and cleaning products to a high cupboard in the kitchen where they’ll be safer and where children are apt to be more carefully supervised.

While toilet tissue can’t be considered dangerous, be aware that for about a year “flushing fascination” may cause waste and perhaps even pipe clogging. Many parents keep toilet tissue off the holder during this period or discourage waste by keeping a rubber band around the roll.

  • Replace childproof caps on medicine carefully and promptly after use. Save caps you’re through with; often they’ll fit on other bottles or jars you want to keep children from getting into.

  • Keep the bathroom off limits for a small child by securing a bolt or hook-and-eye screws high up on the outside of the door.

  • Drape a towel over the top of the bathroom door to keep children from shitting it tightly and locking themselves in. Or stick tape across the doorknob bolt so it won’t slip into the doorjamb.

  • And keep handy outside the door the key or a tool with which you can unlock it.

  • Remove the bathroom doorknob altogether if it’s one that doesn’t unlock from the outside and you don’t want to install another.

  • Stick nonslip appliqués or strips to the bottom of the bathtub to prevent falls, or use a bathtub mat.

  • Use plastic or paper drinking cups rather than breakable glass ones.

  • Take the phone off the hook while you are bathing your child so ringing won’t tempt you to leave him or her alone in the tub.

The Children’s Rooms

  • Check often for loose eyes on stuffed toys and for parts of other toys that might come off.

  • Throw out broken toys, for safety’s sake.

  • Use open, stackable cubes or vegetable bins for storing clothes to make access easy for a child and to eliminate the possibility of the child pulling out a drawer on himself or herself.

  • Secure your child’s bureau or heavy bookcase to the wall with hook-and-eye screws to keep a climber from tipping them over.

  • Glue suction cups or small blocks of cork on the undersides of the corners of a toy chest lid to avoid smashed fingers. Or install a pneumatic door spring (as on screen and storm doors) to make the lid open more easily and close slowly. Better yet, store toys behind sliding doors or on open shelving.

  • Don’t place a crib or other furniture that can be climbed on near a window

Ask Dr. Susan