Dear Mr. Dad: A few weeks ago, you gave some great general guidelines for childproofing. How 'bout some details for specific parts of the house?
A: You almost beat me to the punch! As promised, here they are.
IN THE KITCHEN
– Keep high chairs a few feet away from walls. Babies' legs are plenty strong enough to push off the wall and knock over the chair. Don't snicker – I've seen it happen.
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– Install safety locks on low cabinets and drawers. Be sure to get the kind that keep doors completely closed or that don't let them close all the way (that keeps little finger from getting pinched).
– Install oven locks and covers for oven and stove knobs. Train yourself to use back burners whenever possible and put pot and pan handles towards the back of the stovetop instead of letting them hang over the front where they're attractive nuisances to little hands.
– When you're cooking, keep your baby out of the kitchen or safely confined in a play pen. Never, ever hold your child while you're anywhere near an active stove. Steam, boiling water, and bubbling pasta sauce may be cool to look at, but they can scald and burn in an instant.
– Keep insect and mouse traps in places where your baby can never reach them.
– Put your nice China away and start using plastic dishes and serving bowls instead. Glass and porcelain break, and those shards can show up for weeks, regardless of how well you sweep.
– Keep the national poison control hotline (800-222-1222) and your pediatrician on speed dial or posted near any land lines you might have.
In the Living Room:
– Put decals – at crawling-baby height – on all sliding glass doors and low windows
– Get plants off the floor. There are dozens of plants than can cause illness, irritation, or worse if eaten or touched. These include philodendrons, various lilies, poinsettias, and others. And even if the plants aren't toxic, do you really want your baby to eat dirt or drink water from plant trays?
– Pad the corners of low tables, chairs, and fireplace hearths. And be sure your fireplace screen and tools can't be pulled over.
– Keep furniture away from windows. Babies are like cats and will climb as high up as they can. Unlike cats, they may fall through the glass.
IN THE BATHROOMS
– Install guards on all toilets.
– Use gates to keep access restricted to adults or older children.
– Keep bath and shower doors closed.
– Never leave water standing in the bath, a sink, or even a bucket. Babies can drown in practically no water at all.
– In the tub, use a mat or stick-on safety strips to reduce the risk of slipping.
– Keep all medication and cosmetics high up or locked up.
– As in the kitchen, put locks on cabinets and drawers to eliminate anything your baby can climb up on to raid the medicine cabinet.
– Keep shavers and hair dryers unplugged and out of reach.
– No electrical appliances near the tub.
IN THE LAUNDRY ROOM
– Go back to using powdered or liquid detergent – and keep them far, far out of sight. Yes, those pre-measured packets are a lot more convenient, but they're also colorful and small, which makes them extremely attractive to young children, who just love to put small, colorful things in their mouth. In 2015, there were more than 12,000 accidental laundry packet exposures involving children under five, and that number is steadily rising. Ingestion or touching can do severe damage to a small child's (or adult's, for that matter) mouth, throat, and eyes.
(Read Armin Brott's blog at www.DadSoup.com, follow him on Twitter, @mrdad, or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.)