When you’re ready to expand your family, it’s time to make a careful assessment of your home and plan improvements that will help prevent accidents and injuries for your littlest members. Whether you’re making simple or big upgrades to your home, there are lots of important ways to make improvements that will help make your house safer for young children.
1. Clear the clutter. Having lots of stuff can mean messes—and hazards. Take note of the Montessori approach, which is a learning style that can also make your home much safer. The approach focuses on having fewer toys and items and creating less clutter overall, which lets your little one explore with less worry or interruption. Additionally, adding child-sized furniture and shelving that allows children to reach appropriate items themselves can help improve safety, while also creating an environment where the child feels comfortable to explore and learn.
2. Eliminate staircase access. Installing barriers at both the top and bottom of staircases is imperative when your child becomes more mobile. Children are naturally curious about their environments, and they will push their exploration to the limit. Ensuring you have self-locking gates will help keep your little ones’ navigation to safe areas. Here, too, keep the clutter to a minimum to prevent little explorers from using items to climb over the gates. If you don’t already have handrails installed on stairways, install them for when it’s time to help your young navigator learn how to traverse the stairs.
Gates also should be placed in doorways to rooms that can’t be made childproof, such as craft rooms with lots of tiny items and sharp scissors, workshops with lots of heavy or dangerous tools, or garages where chemicals for the car or yard may be stored.
3. Watch that corner. Think about your home from a child’s perspective – what’s at eye level? Consider table edges, countertop edges, partial walls, and any other sharp edge that’s a potential hazard. Think about when your toddler is moving quickly – what if they hit that corner at full speed? Round off corners where possible, cover the rest and remove furniture items that can’t be made safe, at least until your child gets a stronger sense of motor control.
4. Secure heavy furniture. Bookshelves and entertainment centers ideally should be secured to the wall using L-brackets. Flat-screen TVs are common and dangerous culprits in tip-over accidents. Consider mounting them to the wall or adding simple child safety furniture straps. Young kids are climbers and will attempt to explore every inch of their environment, and they can be seriously injured or even killed by a falling TV.
5. Make windows secure. Understand that screens will not prevent falls because they will not hold the weight of most children. Prevent window falls by only opening double-hung windows from the top or installing safety guards that keep window openings to four inches (ensuring there’s an emergency release mechanism for fires). Keep furniture away from windows to prevent climbing temptation. Plant shrubs or bushes under windows to help provide an extra measure of security in case of a fall.
Window coverings also pose another potential hazard. Drapery or blind cords should not contain loops and should be tied up out of a child’s reach. Even better, seek out cordless shades and blinds or vertical blinds that only require a wand.
6. Install safety devices. If it hasn’t already become clear, when you bring young children into the mix, you need to think about safety on both a macro- and micro-level. Secure cabinets and drawers with child-safety latches to keep kids from accessing sharp objects and dangerous chemicals. What’s dangerous? Anything that can be ingested that isn’t food. Think about the cleaning chemicals under your kitchen sink or your bathroom. Think about medications – don’t rely on child safety caps to prevent access to them.
Secure toilet lids to prevent drowning risk – it only takes a few inches. Use large outlet covers that minimize access to electricity and keeps plugs away from young fingers. The key is preventing access to things and places where children could get into trouble on their own.
The considerations may seem endless when trying to make your home safer for young children, but they are fairly simple changes that will help improve your peace of mind – letting you focus on enjoying time with your young child instead.
About The Author: Morgen Henderson enjoys writing and covers various topics, ranging from travel to home improvement to finance—and everything in between. In her free time, she loves to travel, bake, and explore the outdoors. You can follow her adventures on Twitter @mo_hendi.
Photo by Ivan Garcia on Unsplash
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