Tuesday, September 4, 2012

5 Tips for Childproofing



By: Jalan Washington Burton, MD, MPH
UNC Pediatric Resident, Primary Care Track

As a Pediatric Resident, I talk to parents every day about how to make their homes more safe for their children. As a busy mother to a 10 month old, I now realize how difficult it can be to remember to implement those recommendations before major safety concerns arise.

My Little One gets into everything! Even though he is only crawling, he has become very efficient at getting into small spaces, even disappearing into baby-friendly hiding places. Unfortunately for my husband and me, his new favorite place is our kitchen. Babies explore through touching and tasting. The kitchen, like the bathroom, has the potential to be a very dangerous place for babies unless we make it safe.

Top 5 Kitchen Safety Tips:

1. Be proactive! Put dangerous items out of reach
● Before the first signs of crawling, make sure to put potentially dangerous items such as dishwashing liquid, knives, and glass bowls in higher cabinets that cannot be accessed by exploring little fingers and mouths.

2. Separation is key. Use physical barriers when performing dangerous tasks
● When using the stove or cooking foods that may splash causing burns, make sure children are a safe distance away. We tend to have one parent distract him in the living room or use a play yard placed somewhere that he can see us. Some of our friends use baby gates.

3. Don’t wait for drawer exploration, get drawer locks
● Before we knew it, pushing and pulling drawers became our Little Guy’s new favorite past-time. Pinched fingers and even fractures can result. Simple drawer locks can be purchased at retail stores or on-line.

4. Have a “baby fun cabinet” away from the stove so baby can feel involved
● We let our Little One play in the cabinet under our sink. It is full of plastic bowls, plates, and mixing spoons so that he can explore and have fun close to where we are working.

5. Set limits and be consistent
● Providing redirection for infants as young as 6 months old works best. Generally, between 12 and 18 months old, kids learn to respond to “no” by stopping what they are doing. For example, when our Little One tries to open the refrigerator, we stop what we are doing, pick him up, and say something like “no, babies can’t go in the refrigerator, they should play with their toys” and put him closer to his “baby fun cabinet” or in the living room with his toys.