Baby Proofing

Make sure your house is safe for your little one to roam.

When we were younger there were no gates on stairs, or latches on cabinets or toilet lid locks. Our parents watched us and all was well. Or was it? I know I have a few scars and made a few trips to the emergency room when I was young. So I looked up a few facts about childhood injuries and here is what I found.

Many people consider baby proofing a luxury expense, or something for those who don’t watch their kids. The statistics paint a different picture. Most trips to the emergency room are from falls and other preventable accidents. In 1990, one year before I started my baby proofing business on Long Island, 117 children were injured from falls, 789 from burns and 749 from drowning.

In 2003, the number dropped to 76 falls, 322 burns and 578 drownings. That’s an incredible difference.

Every parent wants to keep their child safe— any responsible adult will do whatever he can to keep a child out of harm’s way. The fact is that an accident can occur with an adult just a few feet away. With the proliferation of child-safety products on the market, many people don’t know which are best, or how to install them. An improperly installed safety product is the same as not having one at all.

In the kitchen, for example, does everything need to be locked, and if so, how? Everyone knows that cleaning supplies and chemicals need to be secured, but many overlook food processors and blenders with blades stored under the counters. Glassware is also likely to shatter if pulled from a shelf. Depending on the age of the children, some safety products may be defeated before others. A baby proofing expert can help determine the best solution.

Electrical safety is something people have been tackling for years with push-in plugs for outlets. However, those plugs will not prevent a child from unplugging a lamp or leaving an open outlet. We recommend a plate with sliding doors to go over the whole outlet to protect your child.

Some things need to be more of a concern than others. For example, parents of children who are natural climbers may need to secure more furniture to the walls than others. Other children like to place anything they can over their heads, or around their necks, necessitating the security of all the blind and drapery cords.
There are many universal things parents should be aware of— the stability of TVs and bookshelves, and of course, stair safety.

Gates are important, not only at the top of stairs, but also at the bottom. No child should have access to a full set of stairs from the bottom so that he can ‘practice’ going up and down, without the direct supervision of an adult. And gates are not just for infants. When a child is moved into a toddler or full-sized bed he is more likely to get up and wander in the middle of the night, reinforcing stairway safety as critical. A common mistake parents make when choosing a gate is the use of pressure gates on stairs. It is never how strong a child is, it is how much he weighs. If he weighs enough, leaning on a pressure gate can dislodge it. Any screw holes made in a wall or banister by using a mounted gate can be easily repaired when the time comes.

Pool safety should be on a parent’s mind as well. At least 51 percent of drownings occur during backyard events with several adults present. When there is more than one adult, it is easy to assume that ‘someone’ is watching the pool, and all the kids in it. Having a fence-enclosed pool is the only way to ensure that once a child is out of the pool, he cannot go back in unnoticed. Kiddie pools should always be emptied after each use; a child playing in a backyard may climb in without anyone noticing. Drowning can occur in less than two inches of water.

If your nanny is a concern, we recommend a hidden cam system throughout the house. You can watch the nanny as she interacts with your children and make sure all is well. The cameras are also helpful if you mount some of them outside and keep an eye on the backyard, pool and driveway. The systems are very easy to install and use now. They are also good for watching your house when you are away. You can watch from work or anywhere there is an internet connection.

Nothing will take the place of adult supervision when it comes to the safety and well-being of a child. Everyday events and distractions will keep a person with the best intentions from watching a child every second of every day. Peace of mind can come with the addition of a few safety items. In that minute when the pot boils over or someone is at the front door, you will know your child isn’t on the stairs, in the pool or in the cleaning supplies.