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Published on July 25, 2017

Top Tips for Toddler-Proofing Your Home

Those first steps your baby takes are a treasured memory for every parent. Before you know it, they’re toddling everywhere and getting into just about everything around your home. If it can be pulled, yanked, climbed, thrown or put in their mouth, you can bet that’s exactly what your toddler will do. As a parent, it’s your job to play defense by anticipating every little hazard around the house that could potentially injure your little one.

child safety“Many accidents involving toddlers happen around the home,” said Denise Ellison, DNP, CPNP, a pediatric nurse practitioner at Abington-Jefferson Health. “Parents should be mindful of hazards that can cause choking, falls, poisoning and burns.  And, of course, during the summer months, your toddler’s additional time outdoors and around the water should also be monitored closely.”

Toddler-proofing is a family affair that should take place not only inside your home, but anywhere your toddler spends a significant amount of time, such as other parts of your property and their grandparents’ houses.

Safety Latches and Gates Are Your New Best Friends

Little hands love to explore and open doors and cabinets, so safety latches should be used in virtually every room of the house.

In the kitchen, use latches to secure cabinets that contain breakable dishes, glassware and sharp utensils. You should also secure any cabinet where soaps, cleaners, laundry pods, cooking sprays, fire extinguishers or other toxic materials may be stored.

In the bathroom, secure your medicine cabinet and closets where you keep cleaning supplies. “You should also latch your toilet seat since this poses a risk for toddlers,” said Dr. Ellison. “A child can drown in as little as two inches of water.”

Install safety gates at the top and the bottom of staircases, and closely supervise your toddler when he or she is crawling or walking up and down stairs.

Watch Out for Climbing, Pulling, Toppling and Falling

Toddlers will climb on virtually everything, even when you do your best to discourage it. Keep dining room and kitchen chairs pushed in to make it more difficult to climb on to tables. You should also fold tablecloths back or remove them, so that toddlers don’t pull them — and the items on the table — on top of themselves.

Furniture and shelving topple over easily, which can crush or injure your toddler. Secure loose furniture, shelving and TV stands to the wall.

“Use guards to soften sharp edges and corners on furniture,” said Dr. Ellison. “You should also use window guards, which can help prevent falls if your toddler pushes against a window or a screen.”

Keep Your Water Heater Cool and Electrical Outlets Covered

As much as you love a hot shower, scalding is a serious risk for toddlers who may turn a faucet on without you knowing. Keep your water heater set at 120 degrees Fahrenheit or less. Many water heaters will have a decal showing where you should set the dial to avoid scalding.

“Burns and shocks are among the injuries we see frequently in our youngest patients,” said Dr. Ellison. “Keeping your water heater warm, but not hot, helps, as does covering your electrical outlets.”

Additional Tips

There are other hazards around the house that you may not think of intuitively. Dr. Ellison also suggests:

  • If you are a gun owner, securely lock all firearms and ammunition.
  • Make sure there are smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors with working batteries, and fire extinguishers in your home.
  • Have your home inspected to make sure it’s free of lead paint and mold hazards.

With a little planning and foresight, you’ll ensure that your toddler is ready to explore a brand new world in the safest way possible.

To find an Abington-Jefferson Health pediatrician, call 215-481-MEDI.

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