Tib’s Tips: Childproofing
Leave it to The Wizard of Oz to come up with one of the greatest quotes of all time, “There’s no place like home.” There is nothing quite like returning to the comfort of your home after a long trip or just a day of work or errands. When your home is a warm, safe, and familiar place you can completely relax and be yourself. You can relax even more knowing that you have taken those important steps to make your home a safe environment for your baby too!
Even the most attentive parents can’t be alert and completely focused at all times. For those brief moments when you have to split your attention between your child and making dinner, folding laundry, or answering the phone, childproofing your home can give you peace of mind, knowing your child is free to explore in a safe environment.
Think like a baby. As silly as it sounds, begin your childproofing adventure by thinking like your little explorer. With my first child, I remember crawling around on the floor with my black lab, trying to see the world from my daughter’s eyes. Besides noticing all the fuzz balls in the corners under desks and cabinets, I also took note of all the things that would surely grab the attention of my very active crawler. For this reason, cleaning supplies, especially the bright orange squishy dishwasher detergents, and funny shaped vitamins and other medicines went high on the shelf or secured behind a childproof lock. I knew from watching her put just about everything in her mouth that those colorful and noisy pill bottles would become a rattle or—worse—a source of “something yummy.” Colorful labels on medicine bottles and brightly colored and sweet smelling cleaning supplies draw the attention of inquisitive and exploring little ones, so it is best to keep them out of sight and out of mind!
Cover those outlets. We all know that keeping sharp objects out of your child’s reach can help prevent shock from electrical outlets, but you can take other precautions to cut down on the risk of shock. I never could figure out why those boring outlets received so much of my toddler’s attention. And today outlet covers are available in a wide variety of styles and prices, and I’m sure that you’ll have no problem finding them near you. Keeping unused outlets plugged with the outlet cover will prevent your curious child from getting, or at least following through on, the idea of trying to insert something into an outlet or crawling up and taking a lick! Outlets in use can also be secured with a cover specifically for containing the cord, or simply positioned behind furniture.
Secure the area. Once your baby begins pulling up and walking, you’re in for a real adventure! I think I lost at least ten pounds running after my little one. For your baby, standing and walking brings a new-found freedom to reach objects that were once far out of reach. Be ready before your child learns to pull up by stabilizing furniture and other large objects around your home that could easily be tipped over, like bookshelves, televisions, lamps, and holiday trees.
Keep doors closed. Certain rooms in your home may be too difficult or inconvenient to childproof. In this case, consider keeping doors closed (and locked or alarmed, once your child learns to open doors). And don’t forget where you put the key!! You’ll want to ensure that your child is not only kept from entering certain rooms, but that he or she can’t get out of the house or into an otherwise unsafe situation. If the room doesn’t have a door, like a kitchen or stairwell, you might find a baby gate to be a better option.
Childproofing your home is the perfect way to help your child feel safe to play and explore at home. I’m sure that taking these extra steps to protect your busy child can help you relax, knowing your child is protected even during those brief moments when you have to rely on the eyes in the back of your head! For more information on childproofing your home and keeping your child safe, contact the New Parent Support Program on your local installation. To find contact information, call your installation operator or visit MilitaryINSTALLATIONS and select “New Parent Support Program” in the “Looking for a specific program or service” box.
Best of luck as you prepare your home for your curious little explorer!
Mary Campise, LICSW, is a senior program analyst with the Family Advocacy and New Parent Support Program, Office of Family Programs/Children and Youth, Military Community & Family Policy, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense. She shares responsibility of the policy oversight for prevention and intervention programs addressing child abuse and neglect and domestic abuse in military families. She has worked with military families for nineteen years and has been a military spouse for twenty-five years.