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Ask the Pediatrician: How should parents childproof their home?

Dr. Jennifer Shu, American Academy of Pediatrics on

Published in Health & Fitness

Q: Our daughter is crawling and exploring, and we are hurrying to childproof our house. What are some areas that we might overlook?

A: As you go through and childproof your home, you'll likely pay special attention to certain areas like the nursery, bathroom and kitchen. But some safety rules and preventive steps apply to every room.

Here are some safeguards against commonplace household dangers that can protect your baby and the whole family:

— Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home, at least one on every level and outside bedrooms. Check them monthly to be sure they still work. If possible, install networked smoke detectors so when one goes off, they all do. Develop a fire escape plan and practice it.

— Put non-choking hazard safety plugs in all unused electrical outlets. This protects against electric shock by preventing your child from being able to stick their finger or a toy into the holes. If your child won't stay away from outlets, block access to them with furniture. Keep electrical cords out of reach and sight.

— Avoid window coverings that have cords to prevent strangulation. If your blinds or drapes are not cordless, attach their cords to floor mounts that hold them taut or wrap these cords around wall brackets to keep them out of reach. Use safety stop devices on the cords.

 

— Check floors constantly for small objects that can be dangerous if a child swallows them. Examples include coins, beads, buttons, pins and pills, which can cause choking or poisoning. The best way to check is to get down at your child's level and see what's there.

— Know which items your home have button or lithium coin batteries and keep them out of reach of children. When inhaled or swallowed, these small batteries can cause swift, life-threatening damage to the esophagus or intestines. They are found in many common household and personal products, such as small remote controls, key fobs, cameras, garage door openers, flameless candles, watches, toys and hearing aids.

— Check furniture for stability and tip-over risk. Children can be seriously hurt or even killed when they climb onto, fall against or pull themselves up on large pieces of furniture like bookshelves and dressers. Put floor lamps behind other furniture and anchor bookcases, dressers and TV stands to the wall.

— To prevent falls from windows, open windows from the top, if possible. If you must open them from the bottom, install operable window guards that only an adult or older child can open from the inside. A screen is not strong enough to prevent a fall. Never put chairs, sofas, low tables or anything else a child might climb on in front of a window.

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