"Safety and security do not just happen... We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear."
Nelson Mandela, the former president of South Africa and anti-apartheid revolutionary, once declared, "Safety and security do not just happen... We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear." This is true for the world around us; it's true within our homes, too. Ensuring the safety of the baby is a primary responsibility of every parent. At the top of the list is baby proofing the home, which can entail making several adjustments. Some are big; some are small. Some cost nothing, while others require a bit of an investment. Here are seven of the primary concerns when trying to baby proof a home.
1. Keep small objects out of reach. Items such as coins, buttons, and marbles can be life threatening if swallowed. In addition to removing these objects, examine all toys for broken pieces or small components that may become detached. Provide toys designed specifically for babies and be certain to check the recommended ages on all purchases.
2. Cover all empty electrical outlets. Plastic inserts are inexpensive and available wherever baby supplies are sold. Or, at a little extra cost, you could replace the outlet covers with ones that provide access through a rotating or sliding hole, thus restricting access when not in use.
3. Survey rooms for sharp corners. The corners of tables or chairs can be cushioned to protect a child that could stumble into them. You can do this yourself with blankets or you can purchase corner covers from a hardware store. Alternatively, remove the item with the sharp corners.
4. Install safety locks on cupboard doors. Prevent your child from gaining access to floor-level cupboards, especially cupboards containing cleaners, ceramics, appliances, and glassware. The cupboards requiring safety locks are most often located in the kitchen and/or the bathroom.
5. Inspect your curtains and window blinds. Make sure the curtain rods are securely fastened to the wall to prevent your child from pulling them down. Any cords should be moved out of reach to prevent them from becoming wrapped around the child´s neck.
6. Install baby gates wherever needed. There are a variety of models available. Some gates are to be installed with screws while others are kept in place by pressure (friction). Some gates swing open, some include a small door, and others must be removed completely to allow entry. Choose the gate(s) that fit your needs and your budget. Make sure that any gates at the top of stairs are securely fastened to the wall with screws.
7. Survey the home for any other hazards. Get down on your hands and knees to see the area from your child´s viewpoint. What temptations and dangers present themselves? Are there plants that might be poisonous? Is there a stand that could easily topple onto the child? Can small fingers get caught in a rocking chair? Address any concerns before they become a problem.
Each home is different and provides its own unique risks. You must take whatever steps are necessary to make your home safe for your child. By doing what you can and then maintaining that level of safety as your child grows, you can rest easy knowing that the most common dangers are eliminated. While supervision will still be required, you can relax and allow your child to explore the home.