Before I had kids the first thing I noticed when I entered a new location was the interior design, the color palette, the furniture and so on. Then came kids. I still do notice interior design and color palette, however the first thing I see is potential dangers and objects of potential demolition (giggle). It is like I am in the computer game - the red target immediately lights up the attention points.
Even though it is not possible to completely childproof your home nor it is actually needed, there are still certain things that makes sense to take into account. With childproofing like with everything else in life I prefer to stay reasonable. Of course, you can buy an indoor helmet for your kid (imagine, they really do exist!), remove all furniture, every potentially dangerous item and cover all surfaces with a sport mat, but that's not the idea, is it?
Cutting long story short, below I have assembled some points with respect to childproofing which I personally consider important. This list is probably not going to be anything new for somebody who has several kids or who already has successfully survived through the first 5-6 years of a kid's life, yet for "fresh" first-time parents it might provide some useful insights.
- breakables will break. That's a rule. So if they are valuable to you pack them carefully for better times (those times will come, don't worry!). I am referring to that Chinese vase you got from your granny, or nice collectible figurines, or even picture frames which used to nicely stand on the side table. Just put them all away.
- all small items - and by small I mean everything the size of a pet-bottle cap and smaller - have to be unreachable, otherwise they will end up in kid's mouth in no time.
- sockets - we have safe ones, but if you don't - buy those click-in protectors.
- cords: any type of cords is a potential danger - either for a kid, or for the thing the cord is attached to. Here I am talking about all the electric cords, dangling cords of blinds and drapes, in other words - anything that so temptingly says: "pull me!".
- same logic for tablecloths - put them away for now, as babies just love to pull them down together with everything that's on them.
- elaborating on appliances - if they are anywhere reachable unplug them after use. I mean: toaster, coffee maker, stand-mixer, you name it.
- we don't have sharp edges anywhere, so for us it made no sense to buy all these corner and side protectors. At my mom's place, however, the kitchen table has some silicon corners attached because otherwise those little heads can get injured. An alternative to special "equipment" that sometimes can be costly is to cushion sharp edges with cut pool noodle or with cut tennis balls, or simply have a look at aliexpress or even in your supermarket - they always have something cheaper than in kids specialty shops.
- furniture, like bookcases, chests of drawers and other potentially unstable objects has to be secured or blocked, or removed.
- medicines need to be put totally out of reach for kids! And another thing here - never refer to medicine as a "candy" when you talk to your kids. I still remember how I ate a whole jar of C vitamin myself when I was something like 5 years old. It was standing in the fridge and it was so tasty! Like candies... Luckily for me nothing major happened, but some throwing up. But don't take any chances with this point!
- same applies to all cleaning products - the further the better. Luckily most of the cleaning products nowadays have the "anti-kids" cap but still. And your cosmetics - that's a bit less of a danger, but if a kid drinks your facial tonic that will cause serious poisoning as well. And garbage. Keep it safely away.
- when you are cooking, even if you are sure that your kid is playing somewhere else, even if you are 100% confident that you are not moving anywhere yourself, please turn pot handles away from the edge, so that they are impossible to be grabbed and pulled down together with a boiling content. You would amazed how fast it might happen and how often it does.
- I don't lock the drawers, but it is in general not a bad idea. In our case I made sure that the lower drawers don't have anything dangerous in them. Yes, the upper drawer of my kitchen island has a nice set of very sharp knives and my 3 year old can easily reach them. However, by this age she knows that it is dangerous and why it is so, and she actually knows how to use them, as I wrote already before (see my article about how to involve your kids in your household chores from very early on at http://familylifeceo.com/2016/02/14/involving-kids/). Another small lifehack - even though opening kitchen island drawers without my permission and immediate supervision is not allowed, there is one compromise drawer - the one with my baking "equipment": silicon muffin cups, silicon cake forms, some other silicon kitchen helpers. If kids get into their special exploratory mode I would allow to get their hands into this drawer, and as kids love winning (who doesn't?), they enjoy that little victory of theirs and keep hands off everything else.
- if you have stairs, install gates at the bottom and at the top. Also for fireplaces - use special fences. We don't have neither stairs nor fireplace at this moment so for us the only gate / fence is in front of the door to the garden. The part of the house where we currently live is basically a glass cube that doesn't have windows, it only has doors. Thus if I want to ventilate the house I have to open a door, and if I open a door and turn away for a split second, kids will run frrrreeeeee. Hence - the fence (LOL).
Phew! Two more points and I guess the main idea is clear:
- even if everything is childproof (you hope) you need to explain to your kid why certain things are dangerous from the very early on. Don't expect them to understand and obey, but keep on explaining. And not just "because I say so". It is easy to show in a controlled way what is sharp, what is hot, what does falling mean.
- and finally, after you think you have childproofed your home entirely, get on all fours and crawl around. That would allow you to discover a whole new "world of possibilities" (and maybe some dust here and there, and perhaps even your lost earring).
As a final note just be reasonable - not overly worried about how dangerous this world is (easier said that done!) but also not too reckless. Be aware and be prepared, but don't forget to notice the interior design either!
This article is first published at http://familylifeceo.com/2016/03/10/childproofing-home
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Published by Maria Boicova-Wynants