We recently had friends come to stay with us for a few days. One of our house guests was an adorable 18-month-old. Since my own kids are big, I hadn’t been in the toddler-proofing state of mind for quite some time, so I had to really think about how to make the house safe for our little friend. I remembered to cover the outlets, and I put the kids’ tiny toys on a high shelf, but there were some things that I just didn’t think of at the time. We all kept a good eye on him, but it would have been much easier (and safer!) had I thought of all of the hazards in our home ahead of time. Whether you are currently in the toddler phase and want to be sure you’re covering the bases, or you have older children and need to prepare for a young guest, here are some safety tips to keep in mind:
Think like a short person. Chances are, your older children don’t go rummaging around under the kitchen sink, but a toddler probably will! We keep our dishwashing detergent and other cleaning supplies under there, and our young guest marched right over to take a look. For the rest of his visit, we kept everything dangerous in a high cabinet, out of his reach. When our own kids were toddlers, we kept the cleaning supplies on a high shelf in the laundry room. Since most young kids eventually figure out how to open cabinet latches, take chemicals out of your low cabinets and put them somewhere that the little ones can’t get to.
Prevent drowning. You already know how important it is to never leave a young child unattended in the bathtub or near a swimming pool, but what about the main attraction in the bathroom? Little children are drawn to toilets, because they’re low to the ground and full of water to splash around in. Since toddlers are top-heavy, they might topple right in, headfirst. When my son was a toddler, we put a hook-and-eye latch high up on the bathroom door to keep him out. Doorknob covers and toilet latches are other options (though my own little Houdinis managed to figure these out fairly quickly).
Make windows safer. Windows attract children; there’s a big, interesting world outside, and toddlers want to know what’s going on! Unfortunately, they also present a few hazards. Little ones can fall out of windows, particularly if they are left open. Window guards can prevent them from being opened more than a few inches, reducing the risk. Also the strings from blinds can become strangulation hazards. Tuck strings up, out of the reach of your toddlers.
Have your home tested for invisible hazards. Young kids are particularly affected by lead, so if you live in a home built prior to 1978, consider having the paint tested for this dangerous substance. This is especially important if the paint in your home is peeling or otherwise not in good condition. Also, if you live in an area where radon is a problem, have your home tested for this odorless, yet dangerous, gas. If you have a well, be sure to have the water tested annually.
Follow basic safety precautions. The measures that you take to keep everyone in your home safe will keep your toddlers safe as well. Make sure that you have working smoke detectors on every level of your home, and change the batteries every six months. Also, if you have a fuel-burning appliance, like a gas hot water heater, a fireplace, a kerosene heater, or a coal-burning stove, install carbon monoxide detectors as well. Be sure that railings on staircases are properly installed and in good repair. Keep floors free of clutter and debris that could cause trips and falls.
When it comes to toddlers, adult supervision is key. Watch children carefully to keep them safe, and eliminate as many safety hazards as possible, for the times that we can’t watch them every second. It only takes a few seconds for an accident to occur, so keep a first aid kit as well as the number to poison control handy. Vigilance and attention to detail will go a long way in keeping young children safe. I got all my safety products from One Step Ahead because they are durable and have stood the test of time.