Baby Proofing This Holiday Season: A Guide to Home and Away
With the holiday season officially underway, many parents are looking to start new traditions with their growing families. Unfortunately, during this time of good tidings and cheer, you will also find an array of unsuspecting dangers. That is because both babies on the move and toddlers love to explore. Though parents don’t want to ruin their little one’s fun, it is essential that you ensure that all of their explorations are safe. Thus, here are the top items, pieces of wisdom, and areas to babyproof this holiday season throughout your home or the ones you plan to visit.
1. Furniture & Appliances
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, just in 2020, nearly 18,000 individuals incurred injuries that required treatment in an emergency room due to furniture, televisions, and appliances tipping over. Not only that, but there were 581 fatalities and 81% of them were children. This makes these items some of the most important things to baby-proof.
This can be easily accomplished by adhering your large home products to the wall. There are an array of tethers and anchors on the market including the Dreambaby Hinged Metal Furniture Anchors. They secure heavy items to the wall using a heavy-duty cable, yet they are barely noticeable. It is important to note that it is imperative that you attach these safety devices directly to the studs and not just into the drywall. Otherwise, these large household items can still tip over.
Additionally, do not forget about your furniture’s sharp edges and corners. These can also be a huge safety hazard for young children. Thankfully, RovingCove Edge Corner Protectors are a simple fix! Just adhere these foam safety bumpers to any area of concern like coffee tables, the fireplace ledge, desks, or dressers. They are available in an array of colors and they are free of BPA, latex, phthalates, and heavy metals.
When it comes to drowning, pools, lakes, and oceans always come to mind. Unfortunately, many parents are unaware that “among infants under 1 year old, two-thirds of all drownings occur in bathtubs.” Toilets are also a hazard that is often overlooked. In order to keep your kids out of this space, simply install a door knob cover.
The Dreambaby Lever Door Lock is extremely quick and easy to install. It fits on almost any door handle, and although it keeps little ones from opening doors to forbidden places, it is still very easy for adults to use. Best of all, it fits right into the already existing holes on the door handles, meaning that it is great for your home or for when traveling to visit family.
Moreover, it is also important to invest in toilet locks. These serve as a second line of defense when someone forgets to close the bathroom door. Amazon has an array of options that are affordable, easy to install, and require no tools.
Another danger that bathrooms (and kitchens) can bring is easy access to hot water. The last thing you want is your child accidentally burning themselves. Unfortunately, a lock is not practical for certain plumbing features that are used multiple times a day. Therefore, an effortless DIY fix is to simply turn off the hot water to any sink that your child may use in the home. Also, consider adjusting the max temperature on your hot water heater.
4. Swimming Pools
Enroll in swimming classes before your travel time. Pools, decorative ponds, and other water features are a terrible threat to curious toddlers. This lifelong skill could save their life and these lifesaving lessons are available for babies as young as six months of age. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 390 deaths a year on average are attributed to drowning in a swimming pool or at a spa. Swimming pools are a massive safety hazard for toddlers. If you own an indoor pool or hot tub or are traveling somewhere with a heated pool for your winter holiday and your child has not had swimming lessons, the best thing to do is make sure they are not left unattended at any given time.
5. Doorways & Stairs
Baby gates are the quintessential baby-proofing item for doorways and stairways. When shopping for this item, you’ll want to invest in one that is extra tall and made of sturdy material. This makes it harder for toddlers to climb on them and better ensures that the gate stays firmly in place.
If you are installing this item in your home, the Summer Infant Extra Tall & Extra Wide Safety Gate is a fantastic choice! Not only is the width customizable thanks to the included extension frames, but it stays in place using both hardware and pressure mounts. This feature makes it an optimal choice for stairways. It also automatically closes behind you.
IMPORTANT NOTE: When it comes to stairways, always babyproof both the top and bottom entrances to guarantee that the area is child-safe. Additionally, always help your child when going up and down this home feature.
While newer homes have tamper-proof outlets, older houses do not have these built-in safety features. Outlet covers are a simple solution to this problem. Make sure to buy some before setting off on your travels this winter. Additionally, use cordless decorations when possible. This ensures that electrical outlets stay safe and it lessens the number of strangulation hazards around your home.
Even the best of little sleepers can have bed fall incidents, especially when they are in new and different surroundings. Fortunately, almost any bed can be made into a safer sleeping space for babies and toddlers when a bed rail is in place. The Dreambaby Bed Rail is a great option thanks to the easy installation as well as the breathable and machine washable side cover. Furthermore, for parents who are investing in their child’s big kid bed early, consider purchasing a low-profile box spring. This allows for less of a fall if your toddler manages to take a tumble.
In addition, if you are staying with relatives this holiday season, your relatives may have taken the time to set up a nursery for your little one. Remember that your baby’s crib needs to be away from drapes and blind cords. These can be a strangulation risk. Moreover, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children sleep on a firm, flat surface without blankets or other bedding until at least the age of one. Pillows should not be used until your baby turns two. Make a point to access the space before letting your child drift off into dreamland.
Any area that allows your child to exit the home without your knowledge can be a scary thing. Doors can be secured relatively easily, but certain window styles can be effortlessly opened by even the littlest of people. Luckily, the Dreambaby Breezz-Guard Keyless Window Restrictor allows your baby to watch all that excites them outside of the house without having you worry about windows opening too wide.
Whether your window frame is wood, plastic, or aluminum, you can easily add this safety feature to the majority of the sash, vertical, and horizontal sliding windows. There are also no keys to worry about losing. Even the enticement of Santa’s sleigh flying by or the winter wonderland outside won’t lead to your little one squeezing through any open window spaces this season.
Lastly, for folks who like to keep their windows wide open, window guards are an excellent alternative. Similar to a baby gate, these safety devices keep kids on the safe side of the window.
9. Cords, Window Blinds, & Window Coverings
In order to get up, a toddler’s first instinct is to pull on whatever is nearby. This makes window blind cords and drapes enticing items to grab. Many parents resolve this issue by looping the cord around one of the blind slats. Unfortunately, this can quickly turn into a suffocation risk. Instead, install cord cleats. These will keep the cords safe and secure. Furthermore, electrical cords also need to be baby-proofed. This can be achieved with cable protectors. These can remove the risk of strangulation as well as accidental falls.
10. Cabinets & Drawers
Children are crafty little creatures. Just because something is put away, it does not mean that a child cannot get to it. Therefore, invest in safety latches for your drawers and cabinets. The Safety 1st Adhesive Magnetic Lock System is a spectacular choice because it requires a magnetic key to unlock the latch. It is easy to install and it is toddler-proof. However, if you want easy access without the need for a key, Munchkin XtraGuard Dual Action Multi-Use Latches are another great option.
Remember to focus on kitchen drawers and cabinets that contain sharp objects like knives and graters as well as areas that house breakable items like glassware. Moreover, make sure to have childproof medicine cabinets and any areas in the home that contain dangerous chemicals. These can include cleaning products, lighter fluid, dishwasher pods, and laundry supplies. Don’t forget about the garage either — gasoline, paint, pesticides, and automotive products like antifreeze all need to be locked away.
Finally, do not forget about the liquor cabinet! Holidays like Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa tend to bring a higher prevalence of adult beverages, which means that the liquor cabinet should be secured. The Safety 1st Cabinet Slide Lock is a good choice for this furniture piece and it is easy to pack when visiting family or heading to a vacation home.
For some reason, hot surfaces seem to attract little hands. From the range top to the stove knobs, and even the oven doors, kids find stoves particularly fascinating. Therefore, it is extremely important to baby-proof this item. This can be done by installing stove knob covers as well as a stove guard. The knob covers will prevent toddlers from inadvertently turning on the appliance and the guard blocks their access to the hot burners. It also serves as a splatter guard!
12. Holiday Decor
Battery Powered Decorations
With the arrival of a new baby comes the realization of how many decorative items are unsafe around your home. This is especially true around the holidays. One majorly overlooked item is the button battery. This powers an array of musical, light-up, and animatronic decor. If your child swallows this shiny little object, it can lead to severe burns, perforations of the vocal cord, and in rare instances, death. Try to avoid items powered by these batteries, if possible.
Who doesn’t love a sparkly and bright Christmas tree? This enticing holiday fixture is especially attractive to young children. Place a safety gate around the base of your Christmas tree to help keep little hands away from the breakable decorations, twinkly lights, and shiny garland. It will also help to prevent them from pulling on this holiday staple.
In addition, the holidays, unfortunately, bring a peak in the number of house fires. This is due to the increase in the use of candles, heaters, and fireplaces as well as an uptick in baking mishaps. Decorative lights also cause approximately one in five Christmas tree fires each year.
This should not deter you from adorning your house with bright baubles and cheery Santa figurines, but it should motivate you to replace the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Moreover, automatic timers are a good investment for guaranteeing that your lights get turned off during the hours when you will be away as well as when your family sleeps. This can assist in preventing fires from starting. Finally, for those parents looking for a little less stress this holiday season, consider a tabletop tree instead.
Other common Christmas items include mistletoe, poinsettias, holly berries, and Peace lilies. While these beautiful plants are quite festive, they can also be poisonous to people and their pets. Babies and toddlers love to put things in their mouths so it is best to keep these plants out of the home until they fully understand that these items are just for show.
Child Saftey Tips for Parents
While all of these childproofing items are spectacular for keeping your kids safe, they should be considered a secondary line of defense. You always need to supervise your child. Most importantly, never assume that your kids are safe just because other adults are in the room. If you need to step away, make certain that someone is actively watching your children.
Furthermore, parents should have a first aid kit on hand just in case of an emergency and it is always a good idea to brush up on your CPR skills. Consider these other safety tips if your young children are underfoot during the holidays:
- If you own firearms, purchase gun safes for your firearms and remember to keep ammunition locked away in a separate area of the home. If you are traveling, always speak to the person you are visiting – if they own guns, confirm beforehand that they are locked away.
- Baby proof front loading washers and dryers using a safety lock. Children love to climb into places and if a child were to get into one of these appliances and close the door, it could lead to suffocation.
- Secure decorative tablecloths using clips. Children love to pull and you never know what items could fall on them if they were to tug too hard.
- Place non-slip pads under your decorative rugs to avoid accidental falls.
- Put your bathroom trash in a baby-proofed cabinet or apply a lock or latch to the actual receptacle. For your kitchen trash bin, purchase one with a lockable top.
- Remove small holiday ornaments and home decor that could land in a toddler’s mouth and become a choking hazard.
- Put the candy dishes away this year — many of these delightful treats are also choking hazards for little ones.
- Block access to fireplaces using a fireplace screen.
- If you live in an apartment with a balcony, do not forget to block off the railing!
- Don’t forget the doggy door as well! While inconvenient, for tots who are on the go, this is an easy exit. A locking cover for your pet door is a simple way to keep your baby inside.
Last, but certainly not least, one of the best ways to confirm that you haven’t forgotten anything is to get down to your child’s level. Crawl around and look at each room from their perspective. Whether you are baby-proofing your house or this holiday season’s vacation home, this is a great way to find the seemingly obvious things you may have missed!
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Heidi is an experienced journalist who worked in the television news industry for a decade, where she gave local forecasts as an award-winning meteorologist, was a reporter, hosted a lifestyle show, and contributed to a weekl