Toddler-Proofing Your Home
What do you get if you cross a toddler’s curiosity with a house full of, well, everything? An accident waiting to happen. Whether your toddler is crawling, cruising, or walking, your home needs to be as safe as possible.
Let’s take a look at the most common injuries that toddlers sustain at home and how to prevent them, or at least minimize the risk of them happening to your child.
Your toddler is going to fall. The very word “toddler” implies unstable walking. There will be bumps, bruises and grazes. That’s not what we are referring to here. We want to consider falls that can cause serious harm.
Stairs. Toddlers LOVE them but they pose a serious risk of injury. Installing baby gates at the top and bottom of staircases needs to be one of the first things you do to mitigate this risk. Follow the gate and hardware mount instructions to ensure the gates don’t increase the risk of falling through, especially at the top of the steps. When your toddler does have access to a couple of stairs, encourage them to move down them in a seated position or facing the steps, one step at a time.
Tiles and bath tubs can be slippery and due to their hard surfaces, a slip or fall could result in a nasty injury. Placing soft rugs in tiled areas that your toddler spends time in can help and non-slip bath mats are the perfect way to guard against falls at bath time.
Windows, so lovely to look out of, so easy to fall out of. Install window locks or width restrictors to guard against this kind of fall.
Remove tripping hazards as far as possible; think cables.
Place corner-protectors on sharp table corners; think fireplace corners or coffee tables.
Encourage your little one to walk rather than run, while inside. This isn’t easy but can work wonders in reducing the number of falls while playing. Falling in the garden or park is generally less serious due to the softer surface, so encourage them to run wild and free then.
Burns can be one of the most devastating types of injury. Let’s take a look at how to toddler-proof your home to eliminate burn hazards.
Screen off your fireplace. Make it impossible for your toddler to get anywhere near the source of heat.
Never leave your toddler unattended in the kitchen while there is food cooking on the stove or in the oven. Always turn pan handles inwards, away from the edge of the stove. Lock the controls on the stove when not in use so that even if little fingers turn the knobs, it will remain off.
Make it impossible for your toddler to reach the kettle. Be mindful of any cords for blenders or crock pots that a child could grab.
Keep matches and lighters out of reach (and out of sight).
Burns are not only a possibility in the kitchen. Many little fingers have fallen victim to hair straighteners or clothing irons. Keep these safely out of reach.
Electric shocks can be very serious, very painful injuries.
Plug protectors are your best friend here. Your child should not have any access to open plug points. Carefully scan each room of your house to check any cabling for faults or exposed wiring.
Many dangerous chemicals look just like water.
The only way to reduce the risk of your child being poisoned is to keep chemicals and poisons completely out of reach. Pills and other medicines fall under this category and with many toddler syrups and elixirs being sweetened, bottles of cough medicine or pain syrup can be very tempting.
Limit access to your garage or storage room. Little people can often wander into places full of interesting bottles of fluid or poisons.
Another healthy habit is to encourage your child to only drink water from their own drinking cup or water bottle.
If you’re an indoor-plant-lover, check each plant for toxicity because, yes, your toddler may well take a nibble.
There’s just something about small objects that seems to scream “eat me!” to toddlers.
Toddler-proofing your home includes removing all those tempting small objects from your toddler’s reach. Coins, decorative pebbles, lids and caps, the list could go on and on. You’ll know them when you spot them.
Avoid letting your toddler eat unattended. While their gag reflexes are pretty impressive, there is always a risk of choking and many toddlers tend to bite off more than they can chew (literally).
Toddlers don’t need access to a pool to be at risk of drowning. Although if you do have a pool or pond, you will need a firm barrier (or multiple) around it or over it to guard against drowning.
According to the experts, all it takes is two inches of water and your child is faced with the risk of drowning. This includes a sink, a bath or even the toilet bowl. Keep a close eye on your toddler when around water.
The data shows that in the US, a TV falls on a child every 30 minutes. This type of injury can be so serious that it can result in death. Be sure to have your TV out of reach, preferably fixed to the wall, to guard against this risk.
Look around your home and take note of any other heavy objects that could cause harm if pulled on by a toddler.
Communicate danger from a young age.
Your child will be exposed to the risk of injury as life unfolds around them and they will invariably spend some time in places that aren’t toddler-proofed. Don’t be afraid to say no and accompany each “no” with some sort of explanation, even if it is just the word “ouchie.”
Prepare for the worst as fatalistic as that sounds. If you’ve never completed a first aid course, parenting a toddler is the perfect reason to do so. Being educated about various risks and how to handle the worst case scenario will also give you peace of mind and might even save a life.
Stock your medicine cupboard.
Once you know how to treat injuries, make sure you have what you need on hand. This could include a basic medical kit and burn/cut/scrap treatments.
While we can’t promise that your home won’t suffer at the hands of your toddler, there is a lot you can do to keep your little one safe at home. Get started on the adventure of toddler-proofing your home. Good luck!