Rachelle Barnett is a Pediatric Nurse, turned Stay-at-Home Mom to a very strong-willed, emotionally intense boy. He has multiple physical health issues, so she still gets to use her nursing skills regularly. She has a passion for helping parents dealing with similar issues as her in any way she can. Find out her advice on things to baby proof.
Things to Baby Proof
Most people know when the time comes to baby proof to cover electrical outlets, block off stairs with safety gates, put baby locks on cabinets and drawers and lock up chemicals and medications. However, once your baby starts crawling you’ll quickly learn how much more there is to baby proofing. If you have a more persistent, strong-willed child, baby proofing can save you many daily battles. Here are some easy to miss dangers in your home. Investigate these before your baby discovers them first.
- Closet doors
If you have bi-fold closet doors your little one can partially open or close the door from the bottom. This can result in fingers injuries. There are multi-purpose safety straps you can get to secure the door to the wall so it can’t open when locked. The rolling track styles can come off the tracks and fall completely down. Some can slide closed pretty fast, slamming little fingers in them. A multi-purpose safety strap can prevent this as well. Other options include keeping the child out of that room, blocking off the closet with a larger piece of furniture or taking the closet doors off until the child is older.
- Door stopper caps
These are the little white plastic caps on the end of spring metal door stoppers. I didn’t even know they came off until my son decided to pull on the spring one day instead of just batting at it. I saw him putting the cap in his mouth just in time. Needless to say, we replaced all the door stoppers in the house with solid one piece or wall mount versions.
- Hanging scarves, dog leashes, belts, etc.
We have a wall mounted coat rack by our front door. We used to hang coats, scarves and dog leashes on it until JJ started crawling. He discovered the dog leashes very quickly and we realized how big of a strangulation risk they were. We have now moved everything but coats to the closet.
We had a shoe rack by our front door as well, but this also had to go. I caught him chewing on the end of a shoelace and he almost had the little piece of plastic on the end completely off. Shoes with metal buckles can also be choking hazards. In general you don’t want your baby mouthing any part of your shoe. The have whatever we’ve stepped in on them; gum, dog poop, lead contaminated soil and who knows what else. Yuck!
- Anything having to do with the family pet
This is a huge category that has many aspects depending on your pet. Kitty litter can have Toxoplasmosis (a parasite found in cat’s stool if infected and can pass from cats to humans). Water bowls are a drowning risk and there’s an increased risk of a child being bitten if they mess with a dog’s food bowl. Many cat and dog toys are choking or strangulation hazards such as cat toy bells, dog ropes, etc. Some dogs can start to feel uneasy when a baby starts crawling. This can make them act in ways you never thought possible. Never leave your baby alone with a dog or any pet for that matter. Make sure the animal has a safe place it knows it can go to get away from the baby. This gives them a sense of security and they’re less likely to react out of fear or aggression.
Having a pet other than a cat or dog doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. Hamsters, rats, mice, guinea pigs, gerbils, rabbits, ferrets, and more exotic pets can all become infected with various diseases and some are transferable to humans. Infants and young children are at higher risk because of their underdeveloped immune systems. Watch out for bites, scratches, cuts from cages, and getting a hold of cage bedding or droppings.
There are so many dangers to dishwashers. If its running and your child opens it they can get burnt. If you’re loading or unloading they could get a hold of sharp knives, pizza cutters, and peelers. They could eat the dishwashing soap. They could slam their finger in the door. Best way to prevent this is load knives and sharp objects last and unload them first. Find out if your dishwasher model has an auto lock. If it doesn’t, there are baby proofing appliance locks available at your local hardware store or online.
- Power Strips/Surge Protectors
People often forget about these because they’re usually hidden to our eye under computer desks or behind TV’s. But they’re a perfect height for crawling babies. There are protectors that fully enclose the power strip, but still allow you to turn the strip off and on easily.
- Unsteady or lightweight furniture
Think TV trays, entry way tables, small corner tables, standing coat racks and lamps. This becomes even more necessary when they start pulling to stand because they’ll use any and everything to pull up on and these pieces of furniture won’t withstand little ones pulling on them.
- Glider Rocking Chairs and Ottomans
It amazes me how popular these are with how dangerous they can be. Because most models of ottomans don’t have locks on them, they always move. So babies can easily pinch fingers or fall if they decide to climb on it or pull to a stand. Some chairs have a lock so it can rock or be stationary, but this can lead to injuries if they mess with the locking mechanism. There have also been a few recalls due to injuries, the most recent in 2014.
- Older sibling’s toys
Your older child can have major choking hazards for toys like small Lego pieces, Barbie/doll accessories, small metal wheels on toy cars, action figures and their accessories, board game pieces, beads and other art supplies to name a few. If your child is old enough, teach them to always clean up after playing or keep them strictly to a room the baby isn’t allowed. You may have to be extra vigilant in spotting these toys before your baby does or you can take them away for a while until your older child can keep them out of reach.
Don’t forget to remind friends and family of the safety rules whenever they visit. A common problem is guests leaving purses accessible to babies or toddlers. There can be sharp objects, medications and whatever else in there. If your guest has never had children or it’s been a long time since they’ve had a small child, they’ll need reminders.