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Congratulations on your new bundle of joy! This is a wonderful time in your life, but it can also be a scary one. Your baby is coming home to a potentially dangerous environment, so what things can you do to baby proof your house?
We reached out to Arvey Levinsohn, owner of A&H Childproofers and a certified member of the International Association for Child Safety (IAFCS). Arvey shared with us this baby proofing house checklist and additional tips to keep your bundle of joy safe throughout their youngest years.
The most dangerous threats to younglings
“That’s a long list sometimes,” says Arvey, who has been childproofing homes since 1993. “Every child has a personality, and they have a tendency to use all their senses to explore.”
Baby gates, toilet locks, and outlet covers may not be an immediate concern for newborns, but you will need to make the crib a safe space. That’s where most of the injuries occur within the first six months of a newborn’s life.
“You just want to make sure certain things don’t go near a crib, such as electrical wiring,” says Arvey. “Many families I see put the monitor with a wire right on top of the crib, which can be knocked in.”
The baby may also be able to reach through the slats and either bite or get the wire around their neck, leading to electrocution or strangulation.
“Kids keep us on our toes,” says Arvey.
Other dangers around the home can quickly become a concern, so beyond the crib, where can you start your baby-proofing journey?
“Getting down on their hands and knees, and crawling around on the floor where the baby is going to be,” says Arvey. “Anything that’s small enough to fit through a roll of toilet paper is too small to be around a baby.”
This is when you might need those electrical outlet covers and safety gates.
“I tell my clients, ‘Do what you feel you need now, and if you need something later, I’ll come back and make it safe,'” says Arvey, who doesn’t charge for trip charges or even the home evaluation.
“It all comes back to the babies. Let’s keep the babies safe.”
Awesome baby proofing house checklist for your growing little ones
Arvey suggests following this baby proofing house checklist to make sure your little one stays safe, in the living room and throughout the house.
- Avoid using outlet plugs, which can be a choking hazard.
- Don’t leave small items around where children can reach them, including ear plugs, medications, and jewelry. (“All of these need to be on a high shelf or in a locked container.”)
- Install anti-tip device on furniture, including heavy furniture, and use a quality product with metal and heavy-gage nylon straps. (“These work better than zip-tie bands and plastic, and it has to go into a stud. Drywall will not hold any weight.”)
- Check the hot water heater and consider turning it down to a medium level (about 120 degrees. (“It takes virtually no time for a baby to get scalded by hot water.”)
- Beware of sharp corners on TV stands and coffee tables, which can give kids bumps, bruises, and cuts. (“There’s nothing you can really do if you want to keep it looking like it does. You can’t put covers on them because that would be a choking hazard.”)
- Strap the oven door and the lower drawer because kids like to sit in those. You can also child proof a stove by easily removing the knobs and putting them in a drawer until you need your cooktop.
- Use a lockout device if provided on your oven, microwave, and dishwasher, so the children can’t turn on the device.
- Beware of Wi-Fi router wiring as it can lead to an electrical shock or strangulation. Bundle the extra wiring up with a couple zip-ties. (“If you can put it in a cabinet or on top of a cabinet, out of the baby’s reach – that’s always going to be the safest.”)
As a child grows, you’ll also need to think about your outdoor living environment, too.
“Some plants are very toxic to children,” says Arvey. “They can create rashes or breathing problems.”
Connect with your landscaper to learn what’s in your yard or garden, so you’ll know which plants to take out and which are safe to leave.
Don’t forget about smoke detectors!
Home safety is never complete without working smoke alarms.
“I suggest a smoke detector be put in every room of the home,” says Arvey. “You don’t have your electronic devices in the hallway. You have them in the bedrooms.”
Placing smoke alarms in the bedrooms can alert parents to an emergency before it’s too late. Also, install smoke alarms on all levels, even in your attic or basement.
Get more home fire safety tips in 11 Home Fire Facts That Will Alarm You.
When you absolutely need to call a baby-proofing specialist
Most of Arvey’s clients contact him when the baby starts to explore, around six months. Out of the 800-plus homes Arvey childproofs a year, only about three or four contact Arvey’s business before the baby is born.
Childproofing can be done in stages
“I go through a client’s home with a form that has each room broken down with a list of items I normally do,” explains Arvey. “Down the road, one of my clients is going to get some new furniture, or the child is going to start doing something they weren’t before. The task will already be listed on my paperwork, so we’ll come and take care of it.”
(Content Manager Susie: The morning of the interview, Arvey received the text, “Hi Arvey, you were right. You told me I’ll be calling you to come back, and I am. We definitely need three more gates and a latch on the basement door.”)
When should a home owning parent call in a baby proofing service for professional installation?
“Only if they’re worried that they didn’t buy the right products or they’re afraid that they missed something where a professional can help,” says Arvey.
Before you start baby proofing yourself, Arvey highly recommends new parents buy the higher-end products. Certain items, like the plastic tip-over devices, do not safeguard as well as metal and nylon straps.
You weren’t born ready –
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