Lucky Mom

Apr. 4, 2006

Top 10 Home Safety Tips for Babies and Toddlers

As child safety is my favorite topic, I’m going to revert back to it just so we keep it fresh in our minds. If there is anything I lose sleep over, it’s the topic of injury (any kind) to my child (and other children too of course, but pretty much mainly mine!).

I now realize that minor injuries (scratches, superficial hematomas and other non-life threatening, non-emotionally scarring injuries) are kind of o.k. and have let my son sort of ‘experiment’ to teach him this.

For example, he has squished a finger or two in the closet door and once (after I removed the gate) touched the gas fireplace glass.

What I will not allow, as much as some folks insist I should, is the potential for a life-threatening injury. I will not allow my son to fall down the stairs, escape out of the house, fall head-first into a toilet, put choking-sized objects in his mouth and let heavy objects fall on his head.

I did have a ‘professional baby-proofer’ come into my home and help me with the cabinet locks and installation of the fireplace gates. What I realized after this experience is that I honestly think I should do this as a living. I swear I saw more than she did and basically paid her (a lot) to drill holes for me.

So, I’ve come up with what I truly think is a list of very important, but not always thought of, safety items to consider and why:

1. Remote Control/Toy Batteries

I may be the only one in the world who does this (though I hope not) but I secure (with strong tape) the battery compartment of not only every single remote control in the home, but desk clocks, toys, battery-operated toothbrushes, monitors and anything else that requires batteries.

2. Purses

How many women come in to your home and plop their bag right on the floor? This should immediately be picked up and moved out of reach. There could be medications, breath mints, coins and whatever else in there just a grab away from a baby or toddler.

3. Tipping

A friend told me that her 2 year old son pulled a sewing machine onto his head which required a hospital stay. This should have never been within reach, including the cord which could be pulled.

This and any other heavy items (TV’s, coffee pots, etc.) shouldn’t be on any table, bookcase or shelf that could be shaken gradually moving the machine to the edge.

It goes unsaid that bookcases and other tall or heavy pieces of furniture should be properly bolted to the wall.

4. Window Blocks

Beyond the obvious (blind cords), windows that open with a screen or not are extremely dangerous:

According to the CPSC, thousands of children in the United States every year die or are injured in falls from windows. Most of the children injured or killed are under the age of 5.

I have these wonderful ‘window blocks’ that basically adhere to the window pane ensuring the window cannot be opened more than 4 inches (or smaller if you choose).

They are super easy to install on almost any window and cost about $8.00/ea. I can't seem to find them on-line as I’m writing this though. I’ll look harder if anyone is interested. OR, if you want I’ll take a pic of it and e-mail to you.

5. Coats/Shoe Boxes/Gym Bags/Coins

This kind of goes along with purses but how many folks leave their gym bags on the closet or bedroom floor? Any coins or locker keys in there? What about shoe boxes?

Do you store anything in them that may also be in your closet where a child could reach? And of course coats. What’s in the pockets? Coins, keys etc.

6. Grapes/Olives (and other not so hard) Round Objects

Fortunately this is not completely unknown but I am shocked to hear that many people assume if their 2 year old has teeth, they can’t choke on a grape.

What I think they’re forgetting (or just don’t feel like taking the time to do it) is that most kids that age don’t choke due to a lack of chewing ability but rather if they are not securely seated when eating they can get distracted, running around, see a toy or another child and choke because they are not paying attention.

Just this last weekend a friend of mine said her daycare allows whole grapes for her son's class (he's 18 months!) and she's furious.

The recommended age for no longer needing to cut up food is 4.

7. GOOD Outlet Covers

The plastic ones are not really safe as not only can they pose a choking risk but people forget to replace them after using the outlet. e.g. vacuuming.

I like the swivel outlet covers for three reasons:

  1. The swivel itself makes it harder for a toddler to figure out
  2. They automatically ‘close’ when you’re done using them and
  3. Easy to use the outlet when you need to. No need to remove and replace anything.

8. Toilets

Children under age one most often drown in bathtubs, buckets, or toilets
~ (Brenner et al. 2001).

CPSC has received reports of 16 children under age 5 who drowned in toilets between 1996 and 1999.

Maybe not a high incidence of death but one is enough for me. I bought one of these for each bathroom in the house and they are fabulous!

Not only do they deter a child from possibly falling in but also tossing stuff into the toilet.

9. Cat Litter

Though I’m sure most children are taught not to play with and/or eat cat litter or anything else in the litter box. I don’t want take the chance for experimentation.

10. Decks (with stuff to climb on)

We have a newly built home (up to all codes) with a large deck, railing all around it, slats not too close together etc. Sound safe? Not to me.

The 'safe' railing is sitting perpendicularly on the top of about two feet of deck wall. There is a nice small ledge that a child could easily place a foot on (easier than climbing out of a crib) and scale right over the ‘safety’ railing. Secondly, there are deck chairs, table and a grill too. Perfect for climbing on in order to climb over.

Do I dare mention when my husband thought a nice cooler full of chilled bev’s sitting right up against the deck wall was okay? I asked him what he saw and he said ‘a cooler’. I said I saw ‘potential child’ death.

So, of course, my child is NEVER allowed even to look at that deck without an attached adult.

Parting Thoughts

So, this is just a short list of my top safety concerns. I hope everyone will just take that extra bit of time it takes to ensure children are safe.

This post is not intended to be an all-inclusive list nor do I represent myself as a professional in this area. Just a mom. A very safe mom not willing to take chances.

I would love hear about others' not so obvious child safety tips!

23 Comments Posted (Add Yours)

1

Pretty good observations on child proofing. Although here's a few I'd like to add. Your kitchen stove (if not built in) is another to properly secure to the wall. A child can open the oven door, stand on it and that is enough weight to possibly tip it.

Furniture: Dinning room chairs or head/foot boards(bedroom) with slats big enough to get hands and feet into and very difficult to get out.

Outside swing sets. Slides that have a rail should be either small enough that a child can't fit between them or enough height between the top of the slide and the top of the rail that a childs entire body can fit through.

This is a big one at Christmas. The old fashioned glass ornaments with the round top that goes directly into the ornament...potential to be a serious choking hazard.

Doors. I have a latch installed on all outside doors. You can buy them at your local hardware store for a few dollars. I installed mine at the very top of the door on the inside frame and then all it does is flip one way it locks it the other unlocks it.

Sliding Glass doors. All mine have a pin in them. I simply drilled a small hole in the metal part of the frame and then attached the pin, again they only cost a few dollars. My nephew learned very quickly how to unlock doors and of course he could never get to those top locks.

Here's one that most people don't pay too much attention to when you're going shopping. Shoe laces and draw strings on coats/sweat shirts that are untied and or too long that can get caught in between the steps of an a escalator.

I am no expert either but these are just some things I've learned over the years.

My nephew is 11yrs. old and hard candy is still something that we very seldom give him. Even potatoe chips he couldn't have until much later.

I can't wait to see you when Alec is older and playing sports....he's going to look like the Michelen Man! (-:

Looking forward to more! dk

2

Bubblewrap, you've found your calling!

3

Donna K - thanks for the additions!

4

'Anonymous' - Yes, I think I have found my calling and wear my title with pride!

5

This blog wasn't very helpful to me tonigh. As I was reading this, my son fell off the bed, cutting his lip. Any toughts on that?

I told my husband what you wrote about 16 kids drowing of toilet accidents. He wants to know if there's any current statistics since toilets are supposed to be made better and don't hold as much water they used to. He still says that it's impossible for a 2yr. old plus to drown in one. He also scarastically asked if any of those incidents were from outhouses. Don't worry, I've already bashed his face in.

6

Michelle M - Sorry to hear about Zachery!

The stats of 16 children drowning in toilets included ages UP to 5 so I'd say there must be some two year olds in the group.

Also, as children can drown in as little as 2 inches of water, I'd assume any toilet regardless of manufacturer date holds at least that much.

Bashing the husband's face may not be a safety tip though - : )

7

anyone see the movie about Ray Charles? little boy, over 2 drowns in a tub of water, not for the faint of heart mommies like me to watch, but it definitely shows how it can happen.
when i was 16 years old i choked on a piece of hotdog, just like you said, distacted, talking, and swallowed it whole, i almost died. if it can happen to a teen/adult it can certainly happen to a child. they are so easily distracted and have no concept about what it means to choke, or even fully chew their food. cut up the stuff people, its' such a small inconvienience but such a huge price to pay if your baby does choke. we're not talking a bruise or bump, wer'e talking NOT BREATHING!!!!!
a friend once spilled a little coffee on a child and scaulded her arm, be aware of those LATTES too! baby skin is very sensitive.
another friends little girl was playing near a TV cabinet, seeminly safe, she left the room for a moment and the little girl somehow jarred the shelf from inside and brought the TV down on top of her, no death, but a monster sized goose egg, and very scary for both!
and remember, ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS, use the break on your stroller! even when you think it's flat ground!

8

I also have the swivel type outlet covers. I thought they were so clever but my husband just informed me last week that consumer reports rated them poorly. I'm not exactly sure why though. Does anyone else know?

9

Anne - Yes, Consumer Reports does in fact rate them poorly due to their findings that the plate didn't completely block the outlet as it should.

Enough of a gap was left to allow a thin wire, such as a paper clip or safety pin, to be inserted and reach the live terminal. The cover plate is non-conductive plastic, but the screw that is used to mount it is metal and makes contact with the underlying outlet, providing a ground.

I prefer them myself as I've watched (tested) my son trying to break into outlets with all the various types of protectors (yes, ALL of them!) and he had the most problem with the swivel, gave up and lost interest; hence the reason I chose and prefer them.

10

Heck, I even have the occassional 'choke on a grape' episode...and I have all my choppers! Again, I can barely take care of myself...way to go LM for looking after your little dude so well!!

11

I need help in approaching my children about childproofing their home.

My son-in law and daughter are really terrific about spending quality time with our just turned two year old grandson and he is a happy little fella. However, they refuse to childproof their home. After seeing my grandson open the front door deadbolt, I had a gentele discussion with them about getting some safety latches, constantly assuring them I was not judging or scolding but rather just had concerns. Their reasoning for not childproofing doors, windows, toilets, etc.: "We are teaching him not to open doors he is not suppossed to open. He is smart and learning. We never leave him unsupervised". I was stunned and was made to feel like I was a meddlesome parent (told he was their child and not mine, etc.). They are very well- to do (self made) and live in a large home with many doors and windows that open from the ground up. What gives and is there anything I can do to get them to protect their child in his home? Please help

12

I have a 22 month old son. He is always surprising me! It took him two weeks to figure out how to open the latch lock the adherse to the opening of a dresser door, fridge, or freezer. Recently he discovered that the spring doorstoppers on the wall behind all the doors in the house have little white plastic tips that come off. How exciting. To choke on! Also, the drawer locks allow the drawer to open a little, just enough for two tiny sticky fingers to slip in and grope the first inch near the front. I learned to put any small things that may need to go in the drawer at the back, just in case! My advice is look for "Tiny offenders" and also the "Enticing if I can just find something to climb on to get up there." Always over-estimate what your currious little toddler is capable of.

13

Aylese,

Good you're discovering all this now when nothing bad has happened! You're so right about over-estimating what a toddler is capable of. Also, PLEASE attach all bookcases and dressers to the wall. It's easy and worth it!

Thanks for visting the site.
Kristine

14

Aylese,

Good you're discovering all this now when nothing bad has happened! You're so right about over-estimating what a toddler is capable of. Also, PLEASE attach all bookcases and dressers to the wall. It's easy and worth it!

Thanks for visting the site.
Kristine

15

I hope the window blocks you are referring to are very quickly and easily removed. It would be terrible if you needed to get out of the house quickly in a fire emergency and were not able to use the window as an escape route - particularly in a bedroom.

16

Anonymous - yes, they are really easy to remove by an adult as they are attached by suction. Thanks for the comment!

17

I have twin girls. 1 of them is a menace (Natalia), climbs everywhere gets into things, incredible and they are 27 months old. Now the quiet one (Isabela), helps the menace, by opening the doors, gates etc. She won't go far but knows how to open even the front door, and then the menace, like Denis the menace runs out and the quiet one follows. Anyway today I asked the hubby for a latch or a chain, something to put all the way on top, to see if they will give up. I live on a main street and get really scared to think that while I'm busy doing something they can escape and get into trouble and most of ll get hurt. Any other suggestions???

18

Claudia,

Have you tried the plastic squeeze-type door locks? They're super cheap and even my 5 year old who was able to break through most gates at 15 months hasn't figured out how to open them. Otherwise a chain at the top of the door as you mentioned is pretty fool-proof (as long as it's high enough that even if they get a stool or chair they still can't reach it).

If you live on a busy street, you more than need to be 100% fool proof in your locking.

I hope that helps!

19

Very informative article. I've found your site via Google and I'm really glad about the information you provide in your posts. Btw your blogs layout is really broken on the Chrome browser. Would be cool if you could fix that. Anyhow keep up the good work!

20

I donโ€™t generally reply to posts but I'll in this situation.

21

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22

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23

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