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Healthy Kids: Tips for babyproofing your home

Photo: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commision / IKEA

One of the first rules for babyproofing your home, is to do it before your child learns to crawl.

“Start by getting down on your tummy and look at your home from your baby’s level,” said Dr. Pilar Bradshaw with Eugene Pediatric Associates. “You’ll be amazed at what you see that you couldn’t from your vantage point.”

Instead of relying on store-bought safety gadgets to keep your child safe, pediatric nurse Bonnie Root advises parents to remove the danger when possible—like moving chemicals from low cabinets to higher shelves and out of your child’s reach.

When securing cabinets, choose a locking mechanism that will be most effective.

“Get something that clips the doors together, a circular, child-proofing lock with teeth that prevents both doors from opening at all. That is much harder to break and is much more sturdy than simple under cabinet clips,” Root said.

It’s also important to create spaces for your child that are not off limits.

“We want babies to be able to explore their environment. We tell them ‘no’ so many times—it would be nice to limit that, so that we reserve ‘no’ for when it’s really important, and they listen to it,” Rood said.

Statistically, the kitchen is one of the most dangerous areas of the home for a child.

“Instead of having glassware in drawers that is easy for kids to access, move your plastic storage containers into the lower drawers and move any glassware up and out of reach, like you would with chemicals.”

If you need to use a baby gate to protect your child from falling down the stairs, accessing certain areas of the home or getting into a fireplace, the best option is to use a gate that secures into the wall.

“That way, it can’t be pushed over or pulled down onto the child and your baby won’t be able to get at what you’re trying to protect him or her from,” Root said.

Another potential danger that shouldn’t be overlooked when babyproofing your home is furniture.

“Kids like to explore. But if they open up all the drawers to see what’s inside, then the piece of furniture can fall on top of the child,” Root said. “Secure dangerous furniture to the wall or to the floor so that it can’t tip, even if all the drawers are open or the child is climbing on top of it.”

According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, every 24 minutes a child is admitted to the emergency room because of a toppled piece of furniture or TV set. To reduce the risk, mount TVs on the wall, or if you are unable to do that, secure the television to the furniture it’s sitting on. In addition, be sure to use proper furniture made for holding a TV. Set the television back, so it’s not near the edge where its center of gravity will make it unstable.

For a child-proofing checklist, click here.

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