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Child-proofing your home before the arrival of a new baby is quite an undertaking. There are so many things to remember, supplies to buy, and precautions to follow to ensure your child’s safety.
While some things may be no-brainers – covers on electrical outlets, baby gate at the top of the stairs, and so on – other things can be easily overlooked. There are so many surprising safety hazards that new parents may not recognize unless they are pointed out.
And we are here to give you the top 20.
1. Baby Walkers
Baby walkers are responsible for multiple falls and injuries every year
While baby walkers can be useful for giving your baby mobility and exercise before they’re able to really move on their own.
However, baby walkers are also responsible for serious injury from falls. In fact, Canada has even banned their use while the U.S. has not.
Parents make the mistake sometimes thinking their little ones are safe in a baby walker. The fact that they are mobile and essentially trapped in a contraption that doesn’t allow them to get out means they can possibly drown in pools and tubs as well as fall down the stairs when they aren’t supervised.
Even just one step or uneven terrain can be enough to seriously injure a baby in a walker.
2. Unattended Babies in Car Seat Carriers
Another cause for falling and injury with little ones is when they are left unattended in car seat carriers.
Again, parents overestimate their safety, thinking their baby can’t get hurt since they can’t get out. They may leave the carrier on the dining table when they get home just to run to the bathroom for a second.
Car seat carriers do not have flat bottoms, and with enough movement, babies can rock and scoot them right to the edge of a table and fall over.
Babies should always be supervised or removed from their carriers as soon as they are brought into the house.
Checkout this excellent resources by Kids and Cars for more tips & tricks on childproof your ride.
3. Not Enough Baby Gates
Most parents remember to install baby gates at the top of a staircase to keep their little one safe. But many forget other important areas of the house that are dangerous and require some form of baby gate.
Baby gates should be installed at both the top and the bottom of a staircase, especially if it’s in an area where your baby plays often. They will eventually learn to climb and need to be safe.
You should also install one in the door way to the kitchen and/or close off any area that they will be playing.
Baby area gates need to be installed around fireplaces to prevent burns from fire and injuries from the sharp corners of the hearth.
4. Crowded Crib
You may not think your baby’s crib is crowded, but if there is anything other than a fitted sheet inside, you need to change that.
Pillows, blankets, stuffed animals, and even crib bumpers are extremely dangerous to keep in your baby’s crib.
Anything soft and loose like these things are suffocation hazards, especially when your baby is young and doesn’t have full control over their head and body movement.
Many parents think they need to use a blanket to keep their baby warm. Instead, dress your baby in layers when you put them to sleep at night.
Keep the temperature at a comfortable level that keeps your baby warm without needing a blanket but not too hot as to overheat. This is usually between 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit.
5. Improper Co-Sleeping
Co-sleeping with your baby can be very beneficial, especially in the early months. It keeps them nearby so you can respond to their needs quickly and helps create a strong bond.
Sadly, about 3,500 babies die each yeardue to sleep-related conditions. This includes SIDS and accidental suffocation.
Parents can safely co-sleep with their babies, but the baby should never be put directly into bed with them.
Adult mattresses are often softer than a crib mattress and have several suffocation hazards, including pillows, blankets, and even adult bodies.
Always have your baby sleep in a bedside bassinet or in-bed co-sleeper to keep them safe.
6. Infant Bath Seats
You are better off placing your baby directly into the tub rather than in a baby seat
A lot of parents will buy the little infant tubs for bath time, the ones that have the built-in hammock to support their newborn baby.
There are some, though, that use infant bath seats. They support your baby, giving them a safe place to sit with little suction cups on the bottom that stick to the tub floor.
The concept is good, but these are very dangerous. The suction cups aren’t reliable and may come loose if your baby tries to lean or moves too much.
Because of this, your baby can fall over in their seat and easily drown if they aren’t supervised closely. They can also get hurt just from the fall as well.
7. Buckets of Cleaning Water
You may be surprised to know how quickly and easily a baby can drown. It actually can happen in as little as an inch of water.
With modern advances, it’s rare that parents still clean with the old mop and bucket combo, but for those who still use buckets in the house, beware.
Buckets of cleaning water, whether in the house or the garage, can be drowning hazards for a mobile baby.
They can easily pull themselves up or climb on the bucket, fall over the top, and drown, even if the bucket isn’t full.
8. Hot Coffee
We all try to multitask, juggling too many things at once. It may be laziness – not wanting to take more than one trip from the car to the house – or it may just be that we have too many things to do.
This is a habit that you should try to break when you have a new baby, if not before – particularly when there are hot drinks involved.
Parents who try to carry their little ones from the car with their coffee cup in hand put their babies at an unnecessary risk for burns.
You also need to be careful leaving hot drinks within reach of your child. It may be surprising to know how badly a child can be burned by a hot cup of coffee or tea.
9. Leaving the Water Heater Too High
Babies’ skin is far more sensitive than an adult’s. The outermost layer is about 20% thinner, which means they don’t have as much protection against things like heat.
You may know that you have to keep your baby’s bath water quite a bit cooler than you would keep yours, but you may not think to actually turn down the thermostat on your water heater.
Running water can fluctuate in temperature. So, you may think the bath water feels fine but there can be spikes and drops in temperature before the tub is filled for your baby’s bath.
Setting the thermostat lower – around 120 degrees Fahrenheit– is best to prevent you from running a bath that is too hot. You should aim to keep the bath water no hotter 100 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent burns.
10. Stovetop and Pans
It’s highly likely that you guard your baby from the hot oven in your kitchen. But do you do the same for your stove?
Parents can often make the mistake of thinking that the stovetop and hot pots and pans are out of their child’s reach.
However, if your little one can pull to standing, they may be able to reach high enough to swat at a pot handle and knock it off the stove.
Running around in a baby walker is also dangerous in this case as walkers allow babies to reach higher than they would if they were on their flat feet.
Keep handles for pots and pans turned away from the edge of the stove and counter so your child can’t reach. And never allow them to reach their hand up near the stove to avoid burns.
11. Loose Change in Couch Cushions
Babies are little adventurers. Everywhere is new territory meant to explored, including the couch cushions.
We all know everything gets lost in the cushions, and if it there, your baby will find it. Some of these small items – like coins – can be very dangerous.
From a young age, babies test and explore things with their mouths. So, if they find a coin in the couch cushions, it will likely be in their mouth before you can stop them.
As you can probably guess, this is a huge choking hazard. Be sure to clean out your couch regularly, removing the cushions to find any small items that may have been lost.
12. Small Magnets on the Fridge
In the same way, small magnets are also a choking hazard, especially when they are kept low on the fridge.
Now, you may think it isn’t common to have magnets low enough for babies to reach, but even those little alphabet magnets can be a hazard for little ones who still put things in their mouths.
The letter parts themselves may not be small enough to swallow in most cases, but the magnet from the backside can easily come off and become a choking hazard.
Keep all magnets – particularly small ones – out of reach of little ones.
13. Coin-Sized Food
Transitioning from milk to solid foods isn’t just a matter of getting a few teeth to chew with.
Babies need to learn a new way of eating, transitioning from purely sucking to actually chewing and tearing food with their teeth.
Because of this, it is important to pay close attention to how big you are cutting your child’s food when they start eating more solids.
Anything that is coin-sized or bigger is easy for your child to choke on as they try to swallow instead of shew.
Cut their food smaller, big enough to allow them to chew a little but small enough that it won’t cause any issues if it is swallowed prematurely.
14. Top Heavy Furniture
Top heavy furniture can fall on a child who tries to climb it
As soon as your baby starts to pull to standing (and especially when they start to walk), they will turn into a little acrobat and daredevil.
They want to pull and climb on everything they can reach. This means that things that were once safe can quickly become dangerous.
Tall furniture like bookshelves and tall dressers are ideal for climbing since shelves and open drawers can be used as a ladder.
But these things are also top heavy, meaning they will top over easily if there is too much weight pulling on it, even the weight of a toddler.
These top heavy pieces of furniture need to be anchored to the wall with straps drilled into a stud.
Anchor straps can hold a shelf or dresser, stopping them from falling on your baby if they try to climb.
TVs are also notorious for tipping over when a child tries to climb or pull on it. You can also find special anchor straps that attach from the back of the TV to a table or TV cabinet.
It is an even better idea to mount your TV to the wall so it is completely out of reach of your child.
16. Loose Rugs and Carpet
Even after your baby has taken their first steps, it will still be a little while before they are walking full time.
They will be unstable for a while, very wobbly and likely shuffling their feet as they build up the strength to lift their legs a bit more.
Before those first steps happen, it would be a good idea to check all of the rugs and carpets in your home. If there are any edges that are lifting or any bunching happening, you will need to tighten them down so your little one doesn’t trip.
Even a little trip can be enough to knock your child into a sharp corner or table edge. Because of this, it’s best to take a look at these things before they even begin to pull to standing and scoot along furniture.
17. Sharp Corners
Speaking of sharp edges, you need to be sure keep your baby protected from any furniture that could possibly injure them.
You can purchase bumper cushions for table edges and corners, or you can simply move sharp edged furniture out of the area that your baby usually plays.
It’s highly likely you have already moved all cleaning products and chemicals out of your baby’s reach when you start child-proofing your home.
However, it is worth mentioning that these things are poisonous, especially to small children who don’t have much of an immune system yet.
While they may not be able to get into bottles right away, other things – like laundry detergent pods – are still very dangerous.
These detergent pods can be deceiving to young eyes. With the packaging and bright colors, they can easily be mistaken for candy.
Keep them locked up or up high, out of reach of your little ones.
19. Cords of All Kinds
Electrical cords are both a strangulation and electrocution hazard
Once again, you are probably already aware of the dangers electrical cords pose to little ones. One bit from those sharp little teeth can cause electrical burns and electrocution.
Electrical cords don’t just pose a threat for electrocution; they can also be a strangulation hazard. So can cords and drawstrings for curtains and blinds.
Any type of cord-like thing in your home should be hidden or kept out of reach of your child to prevent strangulation.
20. Hand-Me-Down Gear
Hand-me-downs are a godsend for most new parents. It saves money and repurposes old items that may otherwise get thrown out.
However, hand-me-downs (as well as recalled items) can also be very dangerous if you don’t do your research.
These items may not be up to current safety standards, using old materials and paints that may be hazardous to children.
You can also run the risk of missing or broken parts that can cause things like baby swings and cribs to malfunction and injure your child.
If possible, just try to avoid all hand-me-down gear and toys, sticking to clothes only.
Almost anything in your home can be a hidden hazard if you aren’t prepared. It’s best to practice good habits and do all of your child-proofing long before it is actually needed so you don’t miss something that could possibly injure your child.