My eight-month-old boy just became mobile. As a man who stuck a finger in a power socket as a baby, I’m pretty sensitive to the dangers of curious little fingers, toes, and tongues (the “taste everything” phase is now overlapping with the “roll to everything” phase). Of course, most parents are conscientious about safe cribs, toys, and other items for the baby, but they may overlook dangers outside the nursery and around the rest of the house. Here are ten important baby safety items that are either in place around my house or will be there before my little man takes his first step.
1. Electric outlet covers: All open outlets should be plugged with childproof outlet covers. Ironically, these small outlet covers can become a choking hazard if you leave them lying around when you plug in an appliance. In my parents’ defense, they covered all their outlets, except the one I found hidden behind an armoire. In went my pinkie, requiring three surgeries and leaving lifelong scars. Never underestimate a baby’s curiosity.
2. Power strip covers and cord wrap: Along the same lines, cover the row of outlets in your power strips with a simple power strip cover. You can also help keep kids from unplugging cords or choking themselves by wrapping cords in a cord shortener.
3. Toilet seat safety lock: Even if you are toilet training children, keep them out of the toilet when they aren’t using it. They could contract E. coli and other diseases if they touch the toilet. They could fall in and drown, or they could plug up your plumbing dropping their toys in the bowl. Mount a childproof safety lock to keep curious fingers from opening the lid.
4. Anti-scald devices and faucet covers: Also in the bathroom, prevent burns and injuries from hot water and faucets. Anti-scald devices can be added to faucets and showers to keep the bathroom water temperature low while keeping the water heater high enough to prevent bacteria and provide hot water in the kitchen. Also consider a soft, cute spout cover, such as the hippo- or elephant-shaped Tubbly Bubbly, to keep kids from touching hot faucets or bumping their heads on the sharp faucet.
5. Cabinet latches: If you keep cleaners, medications, scissors, or other dangerous items in the bathroom cabinets, latch the cabinets to keep out little fingers. Also, latch cabinets and drawers in the kitchen or other rooms.
6. Stove protectors: The stove is another potential source of burns. Install an oven lock and stove knob covers. Check the temperature of the oven exterior, too, and keep the child away from the stove if needed. Also, use back burners whenever possible, and keep handles away from the edge of the stove, where a baby could grab them.
7. Safety gates: Put safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs and at the entrance to the kitchen, garage, or other off-limits area. The safest gates are hardware-mounted plexiglass. Don’t put pressure-mounted gates at the top of the stairs and be careful with old accordion-style gates. They pose a strangulation hazard. Diamond-style gates should also be avoided because kids might try to climb them.
8. Doorknob covers: The other way to keep kids out of rooms or closets is a doorknob safety cover. Look for models that also have a lock-guard to keep infants from accidentally locking themselves in. Doors can also pinch fingers, so consider pinch guards, which are simply rubber clamps that keep a door from fully closing. Closets may also need bi-fold door locks.
9. Window guards: Children can fall out a window that is open only four inches. I insist on fresh air (and it’s healthier for all of us), so I prefer mesh window guards to window locks. Whatever you use, make sure it is easy for adults or teens to open in an emergency if necessary.
10. Furniture padding: My baby’s not crawling yet, but he’s gone straight to holding himself up on my coffee table. That means it’s not long until he bonks his head on the table or other sharp furniture. Protect your baby from furniture (and protect furniture from a teething baby) with padding. I prefer full-table bumpers to corner cushions, which simply attach with double-sided tape and barely pose a challenge for many babies. Also consider storing glass tables for a couple of years, along with coffee tables that might serve as diving boards for little climbers.
Originally published on Networx