Home > Babies and Toddlers > Health and Safety > Babyproofing/Childproofing > Advice on Childproofing Your Home
|

Advice on Childproofing Your Home

Would you ever have guessed that a little piece of metal that has innocently fallen from an appliance can choke a child? Even the most immaculate housekeeper, unless she is completely compulsive, is going to have debris under the furniture—you rarely get down there to see it. But your child lives down at that level. You need to see whether there is anything down there that can pose a danger, and if there is, put it out of Junior's reach.

Tools of the Trade

Momma Said There'd Be Days Like This

I had a camping pot that I used to keep in the car. Such pots have handles that adjust to either be stiff or to hang down on the side of the pot. My daughter, (aged about 4 or 5), put the pot on her head, wearing it like a hat. The only problem was that the handle latched under her chin and I could not for the life of me get it off her. The more she cried the more I laughed, wondering how I would explain it to anyone. I felt terrible, but I was laughing so hard that tears came out of my eyes. When I finally got myself together, we were able to unlatch the handle and free her from a lifetime of being referred to as a pot head.

Childproof drawer and cabinet latches are wonderful inventions. You can't blame a child for being a child, and it's the nature of the beast to want to get into stuff. You are endeavoring to create a child-friendly and mommy-friendly environment so that you can accomplish two things at once:

  • You want to be able to live with your little terminator without constant worry and exhaustion.
  • Your child wants the freedom to learn about the world around him.

Your child's goal is really yours as well—after all, you want to encourage your child to develop in a healthy way. Toddlerhood is the time when a child develops an initial concept of the way he or she relates to the world, so you want to encourage the exploration.

Install childproof latches on cabinets that contain things that can easily break or harm your child, and leave open cabinets with such things as pots and pans. They make a lot of noise, but they don't break easily and can keep your child busy and occupied while you are in the kitchen. They are also not known to cause injury. However, you never know what a child can accomplish if she tries hard enough.

Other Basic Tips

When it comes to keeping your child safe from toxic items like cleaners or household chemicals, even latches aren't secure enough. Such substances should be kept out of reach at all times. A determined toddler can manage some pretty amazing things that would stump even a Houdini. If you were really able to read their minds you would probably find that toddlers consider your efforts at childproofing to be kind of a game.

Children love to put their little fingers into electric outlets, and some even come up with the great idea that pointy metal items like scissors would be fun to stick in there. So outlet covers are great tools for protecting your child. Electrocution is a very real threat to toddlers and young children. But be prepared to discover that anything you can do, your toddler can undo, if he really puts his mind to it. My son, Joshua, wasn't even briefly deterred by outlet covers. He used to gather them up and hand them to me. Of course his nickname at this stage was “The Terminator,” so you've got some idea of how he operated. I had to resort to the super-deluxe outlet covers, which are available for just such situations.

Know Your Limits

You can't be perfect. Do not drive yourself crazy over every little thing. The best thing you can do is to childproof the identifiably dangerous parts of your environment as best you can and then develop a keen sense of where your child is at all times. It is tough on you, because this constant watchfulness means you are effectively tied down when your child is a toddler. But the best childproofing will always be your watchful eye and constant awareness of what your child is doing. If you don't see or hear your child, check immediately. Silence usually means that children are up to mischief.

Womanly Wisdom

Anticipate potential problems before they happen. Try to stay a few steps ahead of your toddler. If you think like a toddler and under-stand why he does the things he does, you will be able to figure out his next move before he figures it out.

Here are a few things to consider when you're making your environment safe:

  • Watch the placement of hot beverages so your child can't spill them.
  • Remove the knobs on your stove so your toddler can't accidentally turn on the burners.
  • Only get childproof medicine bottles, no matter how careful you think you are.
  • Never feed your toddler hard candies, hot dogs, popcorn, peanuts, or anything that can become lodged in her throat without dissolving.
  • Keep your toddler in a child safety seat when you drive, no matter how good she is at slipping out of it.

Remember that you are bigger than he or she is and this is war.

|

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Motherhood © 1999 by Deborah Levine Herman. 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 Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


highlights

Special Books for the Kids You Love
Celebrate 20 years of sharing love to the moon and back with the anniversary edition of Guess How Much I Love You, one of the world’s best-loved picture books. Plus, search our Book Finder for more great book picks. Brought to you by Candlewick Press.

Vote Now for the Children's & Teen Choice Book Awards
Voting is open now through May 3 for the Children's and Teen Choice Book Awards — the only national book awards program where the winning author, illustrator, and books of the year are selected by young readers. Encourage your child to vote for his favorites today!

Top 10 Math & Science Apps for Your Whiz Kid
Looking for the best math and science apps for kids? Check out these cool apps for all ages, which will grow your child's love of the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and math).

Registered for Kindergarten — Now What?
Wondering what to do now that you've signed your child up for kindergarten? Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks