Is your home child-proofed? Did you make lots of changes before your child was born or did you do it on an as needed basis? Safety is not a big issue until baby becomes mobile. Then it is a big issue. The following are a few issues to consider.
Closets: In the ranch-style suburban home where we raised our children, we had ample closets. One of the best closets was in the hall outside the main bathroom. I called it the linen closet. This closet reached from the floor to the ceiling. It was only 10 inches deep, but was nearly five feet wide. The top 2 shelves held 90% of all the household cleaners. There were none under the bathroom sinks and only dish washer detergent under the kitchen sink. There were some laundry products in the laundry room.
The third highest shelf, which was at my eye level, was where I stored the oral thermometer, medicines and all things first aid. The lowest three shelves actually held linens such as bedsheets and towels.
The linen closet was the focus of my child proofing. It was my hazard zone. The linen closet was in the only hallway and could be seen from the main bathroom and two of the three bedrooms. Posted on the back of the door of the linen closet were first aid articles, such as what to do for chocking, burns, cuts, or ingesting poison.
Poisons: I called poison control only once. My daughter, at age two and a half, managed to open a child proof bottle and swallow about 20 children’s chewable Tylenol. She survived without any lasting effects. My nerves were shot. Many children do drink unsafe liquids. Kids will swallow household cleaners, medicines, toiletries, and even air fresheners. One of my grandchildren tried a couple of those.
When our youngest child was preschool age, we received a free package from a poison control center that included educational materials and lots of various size Mr. Yuk stickers. He enjoyed helping me stick these in various places in the kitchen, bathrooms, laundry room and the linen closet. He never caused me to need to call poison control. Did the stickers prevent poisoning or was he just not that curious? I don’t know.
Electrical Outlets: We did use outlet covers. We still do. We have a grandchild and a nephew, who were fascinated we putting things in outlets.
Helmets: Our first four children all survived childhood, as did we, without wearing bicycle helmets. Our bonus child wore a helmet, when he was little. My husband and I wear helmets when we ride our motor scooter, too.
As a child I was a climber. It seemed to be my nature. I was climbing out of my crib before I was a year old. Later I loved to climb trees outside and furniture inside. I was probably on the kitchen counter every day of my childhood. I could even climb hallway walls. This proved disastrous for my cousin, who tried to do the same. His foot went through the plaster. Only one of my children was an extreme climber like myself. I used a special harness to keep him sitting safely in shopping carts.
Don’t Touch: We taught our children that not everything in the house was theirs. They learned to respect others’ property. They learned not to touch everything when they were guests in others’ homes. When they were very little we never left priceless or irreplaceable items where they might be accidently harmed. There were items they were not allowed to touch but were within their reach. This is not only a respect issue; it is a safety and a courtesy issue. Even preschoolers can and should learn these things.
Safety is important. Precautions can and should be taken. However parents cannot protect their children from everything. One day I was sitting three feet away from my daughter and watched her suddenly fall down and break her arm. She was two years old and was not doing anything except standing when she suddenly fell. It was not a long distance fall, but the arm was broken.
Yes, she was a challenging child, but she was no match for her rambunctious brothers. They caused each other countless breaks and stitches. It is impossible to prevent all accidents and some children need more protection than do others, but children cannot thrive in bubbles either. Find a balance.
What do you consider critical child proofing in your home?