If you’ve ever thought about hiring a professional to child-proof your home but can’t afford the high cost, try doing it yourself. In an effort to comply with state, county and agency requirements as a certified foster home and state-approved adoptive home, I conscientiously applied mandatory safety measures mimicking those of expensive “professional” baby-proofing companies.
I would refer to the grueling cycles of weekly, monthly, quarterly, semi-yearly and annual home inspections and disaster drills as opportunities to receive free baby-proofing instruction. Because you love your baby, safety will naturally be a top priority, the most important reason for baby-proofing. So I’ve listed ten easy low-cost ways to baby-proof your home or apartment.
First – Overall home safety requires installing smoke detectors in every bedroom, and one in the kitchen. You’ll be able to purchase packages of two, three or four (with or without batteries) at your local hardware store. Watch for sales and you could find a four-pack costing less than twenty dollars to protect your entire home.
The Fire Department in many communities nationwide offer free smoke detectors with installation tips. Some provide free fire-safety inspections, so check with your local fire station first, to see if they offer any of these valuable services.
Pick up batteries at your local dollar store to replace in smoke detectors spring and fall when you update your clocks for daylight savings. I’ve also found inexpensive carbon-monoxide detectors to plug into an outlet close to the heater (where a leak would most likely occur) and it doesn’t require batteries.
Make sure you are prepared with a disaster plan in place should your family be subjected to any emergency. Have supplies on hand such as canned food, bottled water, first aid kit, baby formula, radio, flashlight, diapers, escape routes for different scenarios, emergency housing, etc.
Second – You will need to buy electrical plug covers in bulk (inexpensive at dollar stores) and fill every socket not already in use throughout your home.
Third – Bolt down every heavy object whether it’s a T.V., speakers, pictures, bookshelves, mirrors or floral arrangements. When babies begin crawling they will pull themselves up clutching onto everything, so make sure they won’t pull anything down on themselves by securing it first!
Living in California earthquake country we’re used to tethering water heaters to the wall, bracing entertainment systems, and bolting down everything else. You have to think about securing everything too.
Fourth – Get down on your hands and knees and crawl around the perimeter of your home, through every room. This will give you the same line-of-site perspective as your crawling child.
As you crawl through your home open up every floor-accessible cupboard door, dresser drawer, pull everything off shelves, and search for danger everywhere. Either fix it or remove it from your home!
Fifth – A couple of well-positioned baby gates will give you immeasurable peace of mind. These can be picked up at garage sales because all kids eventually outgrow them (as will yours) and are easy to install yourself.
If you have stairs you will need to place one gate at the top of the stairs and another at the bottom of your staircase. If you have a pool, fence it and cover it until your baby knows how to swim!
Sixth – Test the temperature of your water at the faucet where you bathe your child. Allowing the tap to warm up, make sure the water temperature does not exceed 120 degrees, or reset the gage on your water heater.
Seventh – If you haven’t already changed your household cleaners to non-toxic, natural or “green” varieties, do it now or lock them up. You will actually need to install unsightly padlocks on any cupboard doors and drawers where you intend to keep harmful, or toxic cleaners, liquid or granulated soaps, hair products, deodorants, baby oil, Vaseline and other petroleum-based products.
If the label reads “keep out of the reach of children” either lock it up after use, or keep it out of your house. And though there are no safety warnings on kitchen knifes or scissors, they should also be locked up after use.
Eighth – The same instructions and safeguards for rule seven also applies to all vitamins and medications, whether prescription or over-the-counter. Keep a lock-box for refrigerated medicines like amoxicillin, and keep a chart on your fridge to log days, times and medicines given according to instructions. This handy rule will prevent accidental overdosing.
Ninth – Set your central air/heater thermostat to a year-round comfortable and energy-saving 68 degrees. And make sure your refrigerator/freezer settings correspond with factory recommendations to prevent food or milk spoilage, while keeping an eye on expiration dates.
Tenth – Your baby’s car seat should have a separate base to seat-belt into your car (according to manufacturer’s instructions) which the baby carrier snaps into securely. Infant car seats are positioned facing the back of the car until one-year-old, and then switched to face forward after the first birthday. Car seats should be changed approximately every two years and twenty pounds thereafter.
If you follow these ten steps you’ll be able to customize baby-proofing to fit your family’s needs without compromising your baby’s safety. You will be able to follow these basic safety guidelines to child-proof your home like a pro, at a fraction of the price by doing it yourself.