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Baby Proofing Your Home
Beyond the usual danger zones for babies, find out hazards even paranoid moms forget when childproofing their homes
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Some may or may not apply to your particular home or decor, and there are probably more items no one will think of until a near accident occurs. Still, here are a few warnings to keep in mind:
Some models can lock automatically, suffocating a child who might have climbed inside. One manufacturer, Lane, will provide a new lock for free for models made prior to 1987; call 888- 856-8758 for more details. Old-fashioned toy boxes may also entrap a child who climbs or falls into one and then isn’t strong enough or able to lift the lid.
In our world of ever-shrinking technology, these tiny batteries can be found in everything from musical greeting cards to handheld electronic games. Even if a child swallows one without choking, the electrical currents can damage the esophagus. If you suspect your child has swallowed a button battery, get him to the emergency room immediately.
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Never put decorative lamps containing oil where your child can reach them. He could accidentally ingest the oil, or spill it and create a fire hazard.
Someday you’ll need them to post all that school artwork on the fridge, but for now, skip them. They can easily fall or be pulled off by curious little fingers and then make their way into your baby’s mouth.
Some freestanding chest freezers made prior to 1971 can trap and suffocate kids. There aren’t many still in existence, but if you or someone you know has one, you need to learn how to disable the latch so it can be opened from the inside. For details, visit Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers. Or better still, just get rid of the old freezer.
A new must-have with all the worries about identify theft, these inexpensive and low-tech appliances can cause devastating injuries to curious little fingers. It’s best to store them both unplugged and out of reach. It also goes without saying, but we’re saying it anyway because your older child will beg: Never let a child use a paper shredder, even with adult supervision.
Plenty of houseplants and flowers are poisonous, including ivy, holly, peace lily, philodendron, hyacinth, daffodils, and paper whites. (Ironically, one plant long believed to be poisonous, the holiday favorite poinsettias, actually are not.) Ask your local nursery for a list or visit poison.org. Even nontoxic plants aren’t truly baby- friendly, because your child can pull off the leaves and put them in his mouth.
Any type of plastic bag can pose a suffocation hazard if your baby puts it over his head—and that’s what they all seem to do. Ditto plastic wrap from the dry cleaner.
Too much fluoride is harmful. Your baby doesn’t need to brush with any toothpaste yet (it’s not recommended until after age two). If your baby gets hold of yours, call the National Capital Poison Center (800-222-1222) for advice if you suspect he may have swallowed more than a pea-size amount of it.
Bits of sticks and branches commonly break off wicker baskets and laundry hampers, and even more durable painted or lacquered wicker furniture may wear to the point that this happens, so watch for loose pieces that your baby could choke on. Better yet, avoid wicker furnishings in your home until your child is bigger.
Whew! Let’s see, did we forget anything else that’s dangerous? The air perhaps? Okay, we’re kidding, and we know that reading this can be a one- way ticket to freak-out town, but laying it out in black and white is just one of those big good-for-you pills that every mom needs to swallow for her baby’s sake. (We find it goes down easier when tucked inside a Twinkie.) Okay. Deep breath. Are you ready for more scary but necessary info? Then read on, Macduff.
Do You Need a Babyproofing Pro?
It sounds a bit extravagant, but some parents feel it’s worth every penny to hire a professional childproofer. If you can’t spare the time, can’t even hang a picture without help, or have twins and triplets who are difficult to keep up with, you may feel it’s worth the investment, too. The business has become so popular that it shouldn’t be hard to find a babyproofing pro if you live near a city. Word of mouth is always the best reference, but you can also locate a childproofer in your area by calling the International Association for Child Safety at 888-677-4227, or go to iafcs.org. Before you hire someone, ask about the childproofer’s training and if his work is insured. You’ll also want to check references. Fees can range from $250 to more than $1,000, including supplies.
This is an excerpt from THE BABYTALK INSIDER’S GUIDE TO YOUR BABY’S FIRST YEAR by the Editors of Babytalk Magazine. Copyright © 2008 by The Parenting Group, Inc. Published by Grand Central Publishing, New York, NY. All rights reserved.