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Childproofing Made Easy

The bathroom

Before you bring your baby home:
Turn down the water heater so the temperature is no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. At 140 degrees, a baby can get a serious burn in 5 seconds; even at 130 degrees, it could happen in 30 seconds. (If your water heater just reads "warm" and "hot," turn it to warm, run the tap for a few seconds, fill a glass, and test the temperature with a meat thermometer; adjust until it's about 120 degrees.)

Before your baby crawls:
Keep him out! The floor's slippery, the surfaces are hard, and there's that endlessly fascinating toilet-a drowning hazard. A door latch, lock, or knob cover will do the trick.

When you bring your baby in for a bath, watch him every moment  -- infants can drown in just a couple of inches of water. Skip bath seats, which offer a false sense of security because parents often think they can leave their child unattended in them, and try one of the new baby baths available for kids from birth to age 2.

When bathing your baby, test the water temperature with your elbow (it's more sensitive than your hand).

Move razors, medications  -- even nonprescription ones  -- and cleaning supplies to an out-of-reach cabinet. Keep more potent prescriptions, like sleeping aids or heart drugs, and dangerous cleansers, such as bleach or toilet bowl cleaner, under lock and key.

Don't discard any medications in the bathroom trash can, where kids can find them. Instead, flush unused pills down the toilet; pour liquids down the drain.

Before your baby cruises or walks:
Protect sockets near the sink from water. Outlets in the bathroom (and kitchen) should have ground-fault circuit-interrupters (GFCI), which turn off the power source if they get wet. Older homes may not have them. If yours doesn't, look for GFCI wall plates at home stores. They're easy to install on standard outlets.

Clear your counters. Put curling irons, hair dryers, nail scissors, and other dangerous objects in a latched cabinet.

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