Childproofing is essential to keeping small children safe from a host of dangers. While all parents are encouraged to do it, childproofing is just as important for other caregivers like grandparents and friends, especially if they aren’t used to having a young child in their home.
Why is childproofing your surroundings important?
Exploring what objects feel and taste like is part of how babies and young children learn about the world around them. Unfortunately, they don’t know what’s dangerous, so childproofing is essential to help keep them safe.
“If you’re someone who doesn’t have little kids living in your house all the time, you may have all kinds of dangers that you never even think about,” says pediatrician Dr. Pilar Bradshaw. “Get yourself down on the floor and crawl around your home. Look at your surroundings from the eye level of the child you’ll be caring for to see what the dangers are.”
Childproofing should include the following steps:
- Inspect all bassinets or cribs to make sure they meet all current safety standards and have not been recalled.
- Use gates at the top and bottom of staircases, and to prevent a child from accessing dangerous areas of your home, including the bathroom and kitchen.
- Secure all furniture and TVs with anti-tip devices.
- Use cabinet locks and drawer stops to prevent little hands from getting into places they shouldn’t.
- Store all medications in their original, child-resistant containers out of reach of kids and teenagers, including vitamins.
Many common medicines, such as opioids, heart and diabetes drugs, and even vitamins can be fatal for babies and young children in very small doses.
“Vitamins with iron may look like candy to a little kid; however, that amount of iron can be poisonous to a child,” Dr. Bradshaw says. “If you have any medications or other dangerous products that are a beautiful color or could entice a kid to reach for them and put them in their mouth, they should be secured.”
Be aware of where you keep items that could pose a danger to kids. Keep purses, bags or jackets that have medicines, tobacco products or vape pens in them out of children’s reach.
Identify sources of standing water
Young children can drown in less than 2 inches of water, so even small sources of standing water inside and outside of your home, such as a bathtub that hasn’t fully drained or a toilet with an unlocked lid, can pose a risk to a curious toddler.
“A toddler’s head is large; it will tend to fall in first. Their face and airways are small, so even in just an inch or two of water, they can drown quickly,” Dr. Bradshaw says. “That means, your pond, your wheelbarrow, buckets full of water from the winter, anything that has water in it is a hazard to small kids.”
Be prepared for an emergency
While you hope it never happens, it’s important to know what to do in an emergency. Make sure that all emergency contact numbers are easily accessible, including Poison Control: 800-222-1222. The American Academy of Pediatrics offers additional information on childproofing your home here.