Baby-proof Your Home for the Holidays
Of the many things that change when you become a parent, one of the easiest to overlook is the everyday things around your home that may pose a danger to young children.
You may not give a second thought to uncovered outlets, unlocked cabinets, and unanchored shelving, but to toddlers, they could pose a major risk.
For this reason, Payal Shah, D.O., a pediatrician with the University of Miami Health System, says that the nine-month period between conception and the birth of your baby is a great time to get into the baby-proofing mindset. Just as you prepare the rest of your home for your baby’s arrival, this is the perfect time to add outlet covers, anchor furniture, install pool fences, add window coverings without cords, and other important considerations.
“Baby proofing should start as early as conception,” says Dr. Shah. “Taking the time to get your house ready can have a huge impact later when you have your hands full with parenting.”
And if you miss the conception window, don’t worry, says Shani Jones, M.D., a pediatrician at UHealth.
“When they crawl and become more mobile is when it’s a major concern,” she says. “I’d say around 6 to 9 months is your cutoff to make sure you have baby-proofing completed.”
What should I do to make my baby safer?
Sites such as the American Academy of Pediatrics have comprehensive lists you can refer to as you set about making your home safe for your new baby.
Drs. Shah and Jones identified some common issues that tend to be overlooked. With the rising prevalence of alcohol, vaping, or marijuana-based products, it’s imperative to keep those items concealed and locked securely away, says Dr. Shah. Common household chemicals should follow the same rule: Either keep them locked securely away or place them high on a shelf in the garage where your toddler can’t get to them.
Dr. Jones highlights water safety, whether it’s a pool, bathtub, or toilet. Keep these areas secure. This may mean installing a pool fence outside or keeping all your doors secured to prevent indoor water threats to your toddler.
Dr. Shah says tall shelving or other furniture should be securely anchored before your baby is mobile.
“You may not give this furniture a second thought as an adult, but toddlers love to crawl, climb and pull on furniture like this,” she says. “It can topple over and be very dangerous.”
For people hosting toddlers in their homes for the holidays:
Families gather together for the holidays — and this can mean you need to baby-proof your home for a friend’s or family’s child.
Make sure the Christmas tree is securely anchored and can’t be pulled down or that the Menorah is out of reach. Children love to put things into their mouths, so clean up quickly and completely as presents are unwrapped.
Many toys and electronic gifts come with coin or button batteries. These are a perfect size to pose a choking hazard to a toddler. Make sure they’re tucked safely away as the presents get unwrapped, and electronics.
“One tip I give to people who are having a toddler in their house for the first time is to put yourself at their level,” says Dr. Jones.
“Get down on the floor and see if anything hazardous is under the couch, furniture, or lower cabinets. If so, then clean it up or lock it away securely.”
These steps will go a long way to ensuring that all your family members, even the smallest ones, stay safe and secure.
Wyatt Myers is a contributor for UHealth’s news service.