Babyproofing: Our Tips for a Safe Home


Use our tips to ensure your home is a safe haven for your little one.


Store any hazardous household materials, such as cleaners, in a safety-latched cabinet, says child safety expert Debra Smiley Holtzman, author of 2009's The Safe Baby: A Do-It-Yourself Guide To Home Safety and Healthy Living. Since one third of all pediatric poisonings are the result of a grandparent's medication, have visitors count their pills and place handbags out of reach. If
it was built before 1978, have your home tested for lead paint. As for toys, stick with natural, untreated fiber or unpainted wood options and keep abreast of recall notices.


Anything that can fit inside a toilet paper tube is a potential choking hazard. Experts advise taking a bug's eye view of your household to track down the dusty coin or deflated balloon that may be hiding under the couch or in the corner. At mealtimes, babies and toddlers should always be supervised and their food cut into very small pieces.


Young kids can drown in an inch of water, which means they should be supervised around not only tubs and pools but indoor fountains, toilets and cleaning buckets as well. "Children can become unbalanced and tip forward," says Andrew Adesman, M.D., chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics for Schneider Children's Hospital in New Hyde Park, N.Y. "They may not be able to right themselves. At a minimum, they could aspirate some water into their lungs and get pneumonia." Store buckets upside down and empty sinks, wading pools and tubs immediately after use.


The bottom line here is stairs need gates (hardware-mounted, at top and bottom) and windows need guards. "Screens do not provide protection," says Christopher Haines, D.O., director of emergency medicine for St. Christopher's Hospital for Children in Philadelphia. Also, always use safety straps on changing tables, swings, highchairs and the like. Items such as bookcases and flat-screen televisions should be secured with anti-tip brackets or straps. Use the mechanism provided by the manufacturer to secure a TV, advises Holtzman.

More tips on protecting your baby from household hazards

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