Your baby just got mobile — it’s time to batten down the hatches and fasten every latch. Everything within that tiny arm’s reach is now a risk that requires childproofing. Three children are injured every hour by unsecured objects at home — that’s more than 25,000 a year. Where do you start trying to make your home safe for your new toddler?
You don’t need to run to the hardware store and pay an arm and a leg to get all of the newest safety devices on the market. Just walk through your home, look for hazards, and be creative (but thorough) with your solutions while buying your baby gear. In an apartment, your hands are tied when it comes to permanent changes, but there are still workarounds for renting parents.
Let’s start by looking at a few of the areas in your home that could be most dangerous to your toddler, and consider some affordable solutions.
✓ Cupboards and Drawers
Lower cupboards are very tempting for tiny tots — they can crawl right in and wreak havoc on your pots and pans. These handles can be secured using elastic bands or inexpensive store-bought locks. Although elastic bands work for cupboards, drawers should always be secured with purchased locks. It’s not just about keeping kids away from the drawer’s’ contents, but about keeping them from pulling the drawer out and onto themselves.
When securing your cupboards and drawers, make sure you do so tightly: If they open even slightly, they can pinch tiny fingers.
✓ Oven and Stove
When in use, your oven and stove pose obvious burn risks. But even when sitting idle, they still hold the potential for damage. If you can, pop off the burner knobs within reach of little ones, and keep them in a drawer until you need them — that way, grabby hands don’t accidentally turn burners on.
Oven doors can also be tempting to pull on. To keep toddlers from pulling them down and/or crawling in, use an appliance lock to keep that door solidly shut.
✓ TVs, Dressers, and Bookcases
TVs and furniture are the #1 cause of injury by falling objects in the home. Flatscreen TVs are very easy to tip over but can be easily secured by mounting them on a wall or strapping them to the TV stand, which also needs to be stabilized. That mess of cords behind your TV stand — HDMIs, power cords, component cables, etc — will also be a problem, so consider picking up a cord manager, which is like a tidy tube that keeps everything covered.
Dressers and bookcases are the #2 cause of injury, and due to their size, some of the most fatal. These are best secured with brackets that screw directly into the wall, which could violate some lease agreements — likely well worth the charges to your security deposit. However, you could also try furniture straps, which could result in smaller holes. Either way, if you check with your property manager and repair the holes before you move out, you should be all set.
Refrigerators are surprisingly tippy. If the door swings open and gets pulled on — say, your toddler tries to pull themselves up using the open door as support — it could topple. Get another appliance lock, like you used to secure your oven, to ward off danger.
Outlets, by design, are everywhere — and more often than not, they’re at ground level. You should be able to block a good number of them by carefully arranging your heavy furniture, as long as you don’t leave a crawlspace.
For the rest, get plastic plug covers or cover them up with duct tape (keeping in mind that it could be difficult to remove the latter).
Closets, your garage, or even your front porch are no place for an unsupervised toddler. Lock every door that you can, and use “twist and grip” knob covers for the rest, which are usually less than $5 a piece.
✓ Tables and Sharp Corners
Safety hack: Cover the long edges of your coffee table with a pool noodle. Just slice it along one side, and slip it onto the sharp edge. Side tables, chairs, wall edges, and your kitchen table could also harm a crawling or walking baby that has trouble balancing. Cushioned tape is also an affordable and effective option.
✓ Cleaning Supplies & Medicines
Whether they’re under the sink, on top of the fridge, or in the hall closet, cleaning supplies and medicine can never be kept too securely. Although you’ve already locked all the cabinets and closets in your house, add another layer of security by putting these essentials in sealed plastic storage containers.
There are plenty of things in the bathrooms that you don’t want your toddler touching — and with so much water access floating around, drowning is a real risk. Toilet locks can help curious kids from tipping head-first into the bowl, but that’s far from the only risk. Hair dryers, curling irons, razors, medicines, and other toiletries should be put securely away after every use.
But, it’s best to keep them out of the bathroom altogether.
Baby gates are a must for homes with stairs — but they would benefit any family with young kids (or dogs) by letting them quarantine certain areas. The fewer places your baby can go, the less trouble they can get into.
In addition to putting a baby gate in front of the stairs, make sure there isn’t enough space between the slats of the railing for a little one to crawl through. If there is, add a safety net to the setup.
Are your windows low on the wall? Can your toddler lean against the screen? You have options. Install a window-guard for windows near the floor, and install a device to limit how far they can open, such as a charlie bar or suction window stops. Also remove the handles from crank windows, and try to keep all windows locked if you don’t need them to be open.
As far as those dangerous cords for blinds, keep them high and out of baby’s reach, by using an enclosed cord winder.
Childproofing your home, unfortunately, is no substitute for constant vigilance. By taking the above precautions and watching your toddler to see what he or she is uniquely tempted to touch, you’ll provide a safe, happy home.