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Categories > Parenting > Newborn/infant care

How to childproof your house

Learning to roll, scoot, crawl and walk are some of your child’s most exciting early milestones. Yet your child’s newfound mobility increases her chances of accidental injury. To keep your child safe, childproof your home room by room.

Around your home

Some childproofing tips apply throughout your home; others are room-specific. In any room, cap unused electrical outlets with plastic covers. Block stairways with hardware-mounted safety gates, and use doorknob covers to keep your child from opening doors. Any surfaces (walls or furniture) painted before 1978 may contain lead paint that will need to be properly (and safely) removed.

According to experts at the Mayo Clinic, a child can squeeze through a window with only a 5-inch opening. Lock windows, and use special safety brackets before opening them. Never rely on a screen to keep your child from falling. Also, be sure to keep the cords from blinds out of reach.

If you own a gun, store it unloaded and locked safely away. The National Institutes of Health reports that children as young as age 3 are strong enough to pull the trigger on a gun.

Nursery or bedroom

To prevent injury, crib slats should be no more than 2 3/8 inches apart. A crib mattress should fit snugly, with no gaps, and your child should not sleep with comforters, pillows or large stuffed animals. Lower the crib as necessary so your child can’t easily climb out.

Mount bookshelves and dressers to the wall. This will prevent tipping if your child decides to try climbing them. Toy boxes should have non-locking lids attached with hinges to prevent them from slamming shut.

Kitchen

Sharp objects, chemicals, plastic bags, vitamins, matches, twine and other kitchen necessities must be kept away from curious children. Childproof cabinet and drawer latches let you easily lock these items away. For extra safety, store chemicals on a high shelf instead of under the sink. Make sure to also keep kitchen magnets and other small items out of reach.

A stove lock and knob covers will help protect your child from burns. Latches can be used on your dishwasher, refrigerator, microwave or other appliances.

Bathroom

Childproof cabinet and drawer latches are also great for the bathroom. Keep medications, cosmetics and sharp items (such as razors and nail scissors) locked away. The toilet lid can stay closed and locked with a latch.

For a safe bath, set your hot water heater thermostat below 120 F and put non-skid strips in the bottom of your bathtub. Make sure that your bathroom has outlets with ground fault circuit interrupters.

Living or family room

Your main family room can present unique challenges depending on its design. Cover any sharp edges or corners on a fireplace or coffee or end tables. Bookshelves should be mounted to the wall to avoid tipping. Remember to move small or breakable decorative objects out of reach.

Electronics, including televisions, game consoles or DVD players, are best stored in an entertainment unit with doors that can be closed and latched shut, or mounted to the wall. Make sure that the cords are tied to just the length needed and are tucked out of sight.

Don’t let a simple mistake harm your child. Taking the time to childproof your home will reduce the chance of accidents and give your child a relatively safe environment to learn about the world.