Safety Faucet CoverMany of the luxury homes I sell may be finely finished for adults, but that’s not always the case as far as babies and small children are concerned.

Childproofing a home is an important part of starting a family, but it can be difficult to balance safety and practicality. I know one couple who pulled out all the stops and spent thousands of dollars childproofing their home right after they had their baby. Ultimately, they ended up moving out of their home before their child was even old enough to crawl.

My advice is that childproofing is something that should be taken in baby steps (no pun intended). With a little planning, you can make your home safe for your young ones without spending more than you need or locking your home down like a fortress.

If you’re just starting out, there are some straightforward steps you can take to childproof your home. Each of these measures will need to be completed before your child is developed enough to access each specific danger. Many of the safety products described below can be purchased at hardware or home improvement stores or over the Internet at baby safety websites.

Here’s what needs to be done:

Install protective covers on your electrical outlet covers before your child begins crawling. The two-pronged plug in outlet covers were once the signature product of childproofing, but they’re no longer recommended by safety experts. Many children are able to pry them off, and the products can pose a choking hazard as well. Instead, plate-style covers are now the item of choice. Be sure to install them on any outlets within your child’s reach.

Install safety gates to prevent access to stairways and other unsafe areas. Child safety gates come in all shapes, sizes and styles. They may be permanent or removable, but either way, it’s important that you ensure that your child is unable to climb or dislodge them.

Secure cabinets, drawers, and bottles that contain harmful substances. Any substance that is harmful if contacted or ingested by your child needs to be moved out of reach or secured in a childproofed cabinet or drawer. Some solutions include expensive interior magnets or locks, but I prefer the simple plastic locks that fit over the cabinet’s hardware. Buying products like medicine and dish detergent in childproof packaging is also a good second level of protection.

Turn down your water heater to prevent scalding. It’s advisable to reduce your water heater’s temperature to no more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Test your faucets afterwards to ensure that they can no longer produce dangerously hot water.

Protect your child from sharp, fragile, or dangerous objects. This means moving small objects like scissors and vases out of reach and equipping the hard or pointed edges of larger objects with protective covers or cushions. Even the metal faucet of your bathtub can be covered with a fun, rubberized animal head (pictured above) to prevent unfortunate bumps on the head during bath time. Other protective covers are available as well to secure appliances knobs (such as oven dials) from little hands.

If your child is tall enough to open an exterior door, outfit it with a childproof handle cover. I was shocked the first time I saw my son Max reach up, open our front door, and attempt to wander solo to our neighborhood playground. We immediately equipped the door with a childproof handle cover to prevent a repeat exodus.

Secure hanging hazards. These include window blind and appliance cords which can pose a choking risk or allow a child to pull a heavy or dangerous object off of a counter. Keep them out of reach.

This is by no means an exhaustive guide to childproofing, so be sure you walkthrough your home (from a child’s perspective) to spot and correct the less obvious hazards. If you have additional dangers in your home like a pool or a fireplace, more steps will need to be taken.

As always, the Internet is a great resource for this topic (About.com has a good article for starters). However, if you feel you don’t have the time or the handiness to tackle the job, you can look into hiring a professional childproofer. I’ve personally hired the Chicago-based A&H Childproofers to install my safety gates, and I was very satisfied with the speed of their response and the quality of their work.

All of these add-ons may not do much to improve the value or décor of your home, but they will go a long way to ensuring that your children have a safe, healthy upbringing and you have a bit more peace of mind.


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Comments

  • Thank-you Jennifer, we do enjoy the smiles we see on your faces when we're done.
    Have a safe and wonderful holiday season.
    Arvey