Childproofing Your Home

Window Treatments


In many cities, owners of apartment buildings are required by law to install window safety grates in the apartments of tenants with small children. If you live in an upper-story apartment, ask the owner of the building to do so.

Windows, like doors, should remain locked to prevent your baby from opening them, whether by accident or on purpose, and falling out. In the summertime, however, you will of course need to keep many windows open most of the time. But you can still take one of the following steps to protect your baby from the danger of falling:

  • Open only the top halves of windows rather than the bottom halves, if possible.
  • On upper-story windows, consider installing window grates that make falls next to impossible.
  • Install special window guards that prevent windows from being opened more than four inches.

Finally, make sure that you make it a practice to shorten or tie up all cords of window shades, blinds, and drapes so that they never dangle down to where your baby can reach them. Your baby could easily get tangled or strangled in these kinds of loose cords.

Someone's in the Kitchen


Stoves, ovens, toaster ovens, coffee makers, irons, and pots and pans all retain heat long after you've stopped using them. So keep them well out of your baby's reach until you're sure they've cooled down enough to touch safely.

What do you do in the kitchen? You cook. So what's the greatest risk to your child in the kitchen? Burning, of course. To reduce the risk of burns, start with this basic rule: Never hold your baby while you're cooking or serving hot food. Your child has too many ways of squirming and wriggling into trouble to hold her anywhere near a hot surface, hot pots, or very hot food.

Whenever you cook, try to use the back burners before using the front burners to minimize the risk of spilling a scalding hot pot. You should also point all pot handles toward the back of the stove rather than out toward you.

Once your baby can pull herself up to a standing position, you may need to install plastic guards that will prevent her from turning the stove and oven controls. If you don't have guards for the controls, then pull off the knobs when you're not cooking.

Small appliances, such as blenders, coffee makers, and food processors, are another major danger found in the kitchen. To prevent your baby from pulling one down on top of herself, store all small appliances away from the edge of the kitchen counter and tuck the electric cords behind them. Also, when you're not using a kitchen appliance, unplug it so that your baby can't turn it on by accident.


If you drink coffee, keep your cup well out of your baby's reach at all times. One cup of piping hot coffee, if spilled on your baby, can cover more than 80 percent of her body with third-degree burns.

In looking around your kitchen for potential hazards, use your common sense:

  • Store knives, scissors, and anything else that's sharp in locked drawers.
  • Keep glass and other breakable dishes in high cabinets that your baby can't reach.
  • Move plastic bags to higher drawers or cabinets.
  • Remove anything toxic from the cabinet under the sink.
  • Move popcorn, nuts, hard candy, spices, and other potentially dangerous foods to high cabinets or shelves

Consider putting away all tablecloths for the next few years. If you leave them on the table, your budding magician might try the old tablecloth trick and pull everything on the table down on top of herself.

Folding chairs are also not a great idea for crawlers (or even toddlers and preschoolers). Most easily collapse when weight is concentrated on the back of the seat and can send your baby crashing to the floor or perhaps crush fingers that get caught in the joint. If you have folding chairs, consider replacing them with something a little more substantial.

More on: Babies


Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Bringing Up Baby © 1997 by Kevin Osborn. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

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