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Toddler safety requires constant attention once your child becomes mobile. Babies can be placed in a swing or set down for a nap and this can give a parent much-needed time to rest.
All parents will agree that this luxury ends when your child takes her first step.
Though we cannot take your eyes off our baby when they are active, we can sit down and regroup when our child is napping or in a swing.
Toddlers, on the other hand, are free to roam and do they ever! They know how to get into things; however, they often don’t know how to get out.
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25 Toddler Safety Ideas For Your Home:
1. Lock Cabinets
There are many safety locks you can get for your cabinets at a hardware store such as True Value and Home Depot. It is also easy to find these items at online stores such as Amazon or Walmart. Child-safety locks will make cabinets easy for adults to access while keeping young children out.
* When choosing cabinet locks, as parents, we have to decide what will work best based on the size and strength of our child.
Toddlers are strong and very determined once they have observed a parent or sibling access a cabinet or open a refrigerator door. Keep in mind that they are always watching and mirroring what you do throughout the day!
Certain cabinet locks are simply not strong enough for some toddlers. In our situation, it was necessary to actually screw a lock into the refrigerator door.
Cabinets that store toxic materials such as paints, detergents and other hazardous materials, should be the cabinets located up high and out of the reach of your toddler. In addition, these cabinets must also be kept closed and locked at all times.
Unfortunately, and sometimes tragically, many cabinets in the kitchen and basement have chemicals stored on the lower shelves. Though toddlers will be deterred by locks placed on cabinet doors, locks will also spark their curiosity. If you give a toddler enough time, they can get into almost any cabinet.
Children of all ages learn fast and are not concerned about damaging cabinets nor the finish on cabinets. In their eyes, anything goes. It is important to think about this from the perspective of a toddler. They are not deterred by the kinds of issues that concern adults.
This sounds like simple advice; however, a parent must think about these issues from a child’s perspective. Your toddler has not learned not to destroy items in the house. They are also not aware of how they might get injured or poisoned by hazardous materials.
Poison Control Numbers:
Even with all the preparation in the world, there are children who are aspiring Houdini’s and many accidents happen every day throughout the country. Often these parents are very careful and take the necessary precautions.
No parent feels they will ever need poison control numbers or EMS; however, the fact of the matter is, they often do.
Should you need to call poison control, it does not mean you are a bad parent. Quite the contrary, as you took the time to have the number readily available and were prepared.
Most parents put the poison control number on the refrigerator, alongside numbers for the local ambulance, police and fire department.
When you are in need of any of these numbers, time is critical and looking for phone numbers when you are stressed and panicking can take twice as long.
Also, take the time to get familiar with your cell phone and add the numbers to your contact list for auto dialing. Cell phones also have emergency access built into the phone. Even if you know how to use the emergency option on your cellphone, always keep the numbers on a piece of paper and readily accessible should there be any technical problems with your phone.
Another concern when talking about toddlers and cabinet doors is the fact that the doors can close on little fingers.
2. Lower The Temperature Of Your Hot Water
The temperature of hot water varies significantly from one home to another. When there are only adults in a home the temperature of hot water is often set hotter as it is less of a concern.
However, when toddlers are in the house, what temperature you set your hot water heater at is extremely important. If a toddler can reach a faucet, they have no problem turning on the faucet and can easily access water in a sink or tub.
If the water is scalding, serious burns can result. If your child was to turn on the hot water in the tub, trying to get out of the tub in time may not be possible.
The best way to address this concern is to make access to the bathroom and other places in the house where water faucets are accessible, completely off limits to your child by placing a lock on the door.
Many appliances are large enough for a toddler to get inside. Or, in the case of microwave ovens, they can place something in an appliance that does not belong there and cause serious problems.
Always put locks on appliances. This can be an inconvenience; however, better that than experiencing a tragic event that could have been avoided.
If a child gets into a refrigerator and closes the door, it can be hard or even impossible for your child to open the door due to the suction. This goes for washers and dryers as well and is why appliances cannot be discarded without removing the door.
4. Poisonous Plants
When we think of poisonous plants in the house, many of us think of dogs eating poinsettias. Unfortunately, toddlers are just as likely to put something in their mouth without any hesitation. Parents with plants in the house, want to be aware of what, if any, plants are poisonous.
5. Candles and matches
This is often overlooked when toddler-proofing. If you’re anything like me, you love scented candles. I use scented candles all the time.
I know most of us probably don’t use matches anymore. But if you do, you’ll want to secure them up high or even in a locked cabinet or drawer.
Small children can be fascinated by fire and drawn to candles. Scented candles can smell amazing! Your toddler could attempt to chew on the wax and get burned or possibly choke. If they ingest scented candle wax they could become seriously ill.
6. Secure Hutches, Dressers, And Bookcases To The Wall
Bookcases do not always sit securely against a wall. Furthermore, when filled with books the weight can make a bookcase top-heavy and very unstable.
So much so that it can easily fall over with little effort. Should your child be in front of a bookcase or hutch this can be a disaster waiting to happen.
Make sure any tall, upright furniture leans into the wall and secure the furniture to the wall with the appropriate hardware.
As with so many suggestions discussed in this article, simply research or Google these potentially dangerous situations, the statistics will amaze you.
Let’s talk pictures.
Do you have a lot of pictures in frames that you keep on tables or on bookcases?
You’ll want to check if they are made of glass. If they are made of glass, hang them up high on a wall or change them out for plastic frames.
It probably seems like a minor concern, until the one time your toddler is playing, knocks over a photo and shattered glass ends up all over the floor. Toddlers with access to pieces of broken glass is a very dangerous situation.
Then you find yourself in the emergency room and nobody wants to end up in the emergency room with a toddler…nobody!
Make sure that your flat screen TV is mounted to the wall securely. If you have it on a TV stand be sure both the TV and stand are mounted securely to the wall.
7. Secure Windows and Install WIndow Guards
Virtually anything your toddler has seen you do, she will be able to do given the time and opportunity. Toddlers learn very quickly and this is something parents can fail to realize. As parents, we may do something and not be aware our child is watching.
The expression “see one do one” applies to toddlers as well as adults. If we do not give our children credit for there amazing ability to pick up tasks (both good and bad) very quickly, accidents can and do happen.
Windows are always a concerning matter depending on what type of building you live in. Certainly, windows on higher levels can be more dangerous, but we know a toddler can get hurt falling out of a first-floor window.
When a window is left open, your child has any number of possibilities. Falling or climbing out is only one of them.
Recently, I heard a report on the radio involving a baby/toddler crawling across a busy road. Fortunately, a driver stopped his car and blocked oncoming traffic until he could pick up the child and return the child to the home which was adjacent to the roadway.
One might say that the parent should have been more attentive. Easy to say and in some cases this may be correct. This parent was in shock over what happened. Again, even the best, most attentive parents can experience a situation such as this. It is not hard to think of a scenario where this could happen. The fact remains that this toddler had learned how to open the door and wander off the property. This is a dramatic story; however, it does indicate what can happen if your child gains access to the outdoors without your knowledge.
We will talk about door locks in another section. As for windows, it is important to secure windows. If you have windows you never open, make sure they are securely locked. For windows, you use frequently, install window guards. Guards will prevent a window from opening wide enough to allow a child to crawl out
8. Keep Furniture Away From Windows
Toddlers are very good at figuring out ways to get what they want and getting to where they want to go. They are always watching us and it doesn’t take long before they figure out how easy it is to simply climb on a piece of furniture.
Once they have mastered this maneuver, they have created a number of new ways to get themselves into serious trouble.
It may be accessing an open window, unlocking and opening a window or reaching for a cord next to the window as discussed below.
The terrible 2’s are just that but not because your child is ill-behaved. Toddlers are extremely adventurous and want to explore. It is up to the parent to make sure they are not going to put themselves in a dangerous situation.
9. Keep Blind Cords Out Of Reach
Sadly, we have all heard stories of toddlers dying as a result of getting tangled in window blind cords.
No one ever believes it could happen to their child; however, the parents to whom this has happened thought the same.
Toddlers that can walk and babies that can stand up with the help of furniture, chairs or hanging cords are at risk of having an accident if window cords connected to drapes or blinds are not kept securely out of reach.
Make sure cords adjacent to windows are tied up high and well out of the reach of your child. If possible use cordless blinds. Or cut the cords and attach a tassel that will still allow you to move the blinds up and down.
Place Outlet Covers
Placing outlet covers on all open sockets is good practice whether children are around or not. For babies, you can use the plugin protectors; however, for toddlers, it is far better to use Universal Self-Closing Electrical Outlet Covers
Covering all unused sockets is extremely inexpensive and safeguards your house from any children that may visit the house.
This preventive measure is essential for if you have a toddler in the house. Putting utensils and other metal objects into outlets is easy to do and outlets are everywhere.
11. Cover Electrical Cords
Electrical cords run throughout most houses. Granted, with WIFi and Bluetooth there are far fewer cords around the house but they still do exist.
When your baby or toddler is crawling around the house, electrical cords are intriguing. Especially trying to find out where they go.
There are 5 main reasons why you want to account for all the electrical wires in your house that course along the floor and under rugs if your child is in the cruise-control mode.
- Toddlers will follow the cords back to their origin and we all know what can happen then.
- Cords can get damaged by vacuum cleaners or other floor machinery or simply with foot traffic. This can expose live wires and if there is a hot spot your child will be sure to try and find it.
- Your child can teeth on the cord.
- Pulling a cord and toppling a lamp on their head is not uncommon.
- Toddlers like to run and cords can trip your child.
- If you have a pet they can easily chew a wire and leave it bare
- Pets can also trip on a cord and cause an item to fall off a table or shelf
When it comes to plugs and outlets one of the things that you want to make sure is that your power strips are hidden behind or mounted out of reach. A curious toddler can easily stick something metal into a power strip. Also, make sure to cover the other plug openings that aren’t being used.
12. Do A Final Walk/Crawl Through To Identify Any Toddler Accessible Hazards
When you are done toddler-proofing your home, it’s time for a walk through or better yet a crawl through. Clearly, something you might want to do when no one is home.
Get down to the level of your toddler and see what home looks like from their perspective.
You may be surprised at the access your child has to hazards you might otherwise not have noticed.
Be sure to check your toddler’s toys and toy box when you are you down on their level. Toys can break and small pieces could be on the floor or in the bottom of the toybox. Those small pieces can be a choking hazard.
Make sure if your child is doing any kind of sensory play that you carefully supervise them. Sensory play often involves using ingredients that are not safe to eat and may include small items like rocks which could present a choking hazard.
13. Keep Pet Supplies And Litter Boxes In A Locked Room
If you have pets, aside from the disaster a toddler can make in a matter of seconds be simply dispersing the litter box contents, even more concerning, are the diseases that cats and other household pets can harbor in litter boxes.
Yes, not a pleasant topic but a reality. During pregnancy, many parents will have already learned that pregnant women should never clean the litter box due to the risk of a condition known as Toxoplasmosis which can affect the fetus.
Lastly and again not a pleasant thought, is that toddlers will put literally anything in their mouths and the contents in a litter box are no exception.
So be sure to lock up the litter box, dog food bowls or anything else you find that is accessible when you do your house crawl-through inspection.
14. Make Bathrooms and the kitchen Inaccessible
Bathrooms should always be inaccessible to toddlers who are able to cruise or walk around the house.
If there is an open toilet, a toddler knows how to get into trouble but not necessarily how to get out. Sadly, drownings do occur as a result of this.
Furthermore, if they were to fall into a tub they cannot always get out. Even the toilet for that matter!
When it comes to medications in the home you need to keep your medication under lock and key. There are so many medications that are toxic to toddlers, even in small doses.
It isn’t worth the risk. Even placing them high up in the cabinet Isn’t considered safe enough. Toddlers climb. Keep your medications locked up and keep your toddler safe.
The best thing you can do in your kitchen is to make sure that it’s gated and that your child is not allowed in the kitchen without you or without adult supervision.
Make sure all low cabinets have a lock on them. Keep all chemicals and cleaning products out of reach. You’ll want to keep your dishwasher locked and be sure to run it right away when it is full.
Keep dishwashing pods locked up!
If you use dishwashing pods, keep them in an upper cabinet. They are brightly colored and could be mistaken for candy by your toddler.
The microwave presents a potential hazard for toddlers. Keep the microwave out of reach. You’d be surprised how quickly a toddler can figure out how to use the microwave.
If possible use a stove guard.
Toddlers can reach up for things on the counter. Be sure all small appliances are secured and out of reach. Keep Keurig K-Cups in an upper cabinet.
Do not leave a stool in the kitchen that your toddler could climb on to get access to the kitchen counters.
15. Gym Equipment
Being in the medical field, I cannot count how many times in over 20 years I have seen children inadvertently hurt by heavy GYM equipment.
In the emergency room, it is often an accident involving a sibling. Dropping a heavy barbell on a sibling’s foot or a crushing injury as a result of fingers getting in between weightlifting equipment.
It is also very important to remember to cover sharp corners on gym equipment. Workout equipment is often at a toddler’s eye level.
16. Lock Doors To Outside
Be vigilant about keeping outside doors closed and secured. Recently, there was a news story about a baby crawling onto a busy street. It was a busy roadway and fortunately, a motorist was able to quickly stop the traffic.
The baby was not harmed and was returned to the home where the parents were shocked to learn their child had crawled out of the house through an open exterior door.
Unfortunately, in this day and age, there will be those who will shame parents for allowing such an event to occur, even though this could happen to any parent. The important message here is to learn from others and not pass judgment.
Most often in these situations, parents feel bad enough and do not need comments to suggest they are bad parents.
Surely, there are exceptions; however, suggesting a parent is negligent should be determined based on the circumstances surrounding the incident.
17. Keep Electric Door Openers Hidden
Children have and always will be intrigued by remote control door openers. Don’t think they aren’t watching your every move. Not to mention seeing you open the door at least once a day.
So when your back is turned don’t be surprised if your little one has caused your garage door to magically open or close.
This is a concern for many reasons. Someone, including your child, could be under the door. If the door is for security, opening it means your child could run out into the street.
The important point about this and many other safety tips outlined in this article is that toddlers and young children are still exploring the world around them.
Since a toddler does not understand the cause-and-effect relationship of a particular action, they should be instructed firmly about the actions they take that pose a danger to them. Making the environment around them as safe as possible is not enough. They have to learn about the consequences of their actions.
Take the time to explain the danger associated with an action that could be harmful. Sending a child to their room without a discussion may not do anything to stop a child from doing it again if they don’t understand what they did wrong.
18. Gate Stairways
Placing a gate at stairways is a must if you have children running around the house. Matter how careful we can be as parents, stairways need to be a top priority when it comes to safety in the house.
Setting an age limit is not possible as this is dependent on many factors and is always better to be over cautious.
It is no wonder, if one searches on Amazon for safety items relating to children, that child gates is always near the top searched item.
Types of gates:
When buying gates for stairs and doorways, this is not an item where you want to improvise. Take measurements and make sure you purchase the right size gate for the job.
Almost anyone can relate to falling down the stairs at one time or another as a child. I certainly can. Whether or not your child gets hurt is unpredictable.
Other safety factors to keep in mind when dealing with stairs is whether the stairs are carpeted or hardwood.
19. Empty bucket of water immediately after use:
This is something we might not think about if children are not around. However, as discussed under bathroom safety, any amount of water can be hazardous when considering toddler safety.
Toddlers are adventurous and a bucket of water can easily attract their attention. No one would think that a toddler could be injured or drown in a bucket of water but sadly they can.
These suggestions are not mentioned to instill fear in parents of toddlers. The purpose is to simply remind parents of the safety concerns that have been identified as a result of rare-though-tragic accidents.
Evaluating toddler safety is best done by physically seeing the world from their perspective. Put yourself at their level and crawl around the house. Look for potentially hazardous situations that can be avoided.
20. Secure the laundry room and cleaning supplies:
Like the bathroom, the laundry room also must be strictly off limits when addressing toddler safety in your home. The dangers in the laundry room are numerous:
- Detergent pods must be kept out of reach and in a locked cabinet. Detergent has always been a concern and with the development of pods that look like candy, you cannot be too careful.
- Large appliances, particularly dryers are enticing to toddlers and this is one more reason the entire laundry area must be secure and off limits to your toddler.
- Keep powdered and liquid detergents out of reach of your toddler.
21. Ceiling Fan Chains
Toddlers love to try and reach up for chains hanging from the ceiling. Even if the chain is not within their reach a child is more than capable of pulling over a stool or chair to reach hanging items, whether that be plants, ceiling fan pull chains or skylight windows.
If you have chairs or ladders easily accessible, make sure they cannot be repositioned allowing your child to reach the items noted above.
22. Put Bumpers On Corners Of Glass Or Marble Tables
You don’t have to talk to too many people to find someone who has the classic cut on under their chin from a hard table surface. Based on what is within your child’s reach, apply protective foam rubber.
Consider placing bumpers on the corners of any table. Toddlers move quick and they like to climb. You mix a quick moving toddler with the sharp end of the table and you could be looking at a trip to the emergency room for stitches.
The safest thing to do is cover sharp corners on any tables that are accessible to your child.
We use plumbing insulation that is used to wrap pipes. It is available at Lowes or Home Depot. It’s a great option and is inexpensive.
We have shown some options from Amazon for making tables safer but if you’re strapped for cash and many young parents are, just get some pipe insulation. It will work as long as it is foam rubber insulation and is securely fastened. When you are done, always check the corners to be sure there is adequate protection.
23. Put Away Ladders:
Ladders include even simple step ladders that we would otherwise not think twice about. Not only because your child could fall off a ladder. A child can also get their fingers stuck in the mechanism that locks ladders in place.
What’s always concerned me as a mom is when a ladder is just leaning up against a wall in the garage or basement. You can take your eyes off your toddler for just a minute and they could be up that ladder. Worse they could pull the ladder over on themselves which could result in a serious injury.
Ladders need to be secured to the walls and up high so your child can’t climb on them.
24. Ensure pool safety:
Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death of children ages 1-4 years old according to the Centers For Disease Control (CDC).
Pool safety tips:
Never leave your child unattended by the pool. Not even for a minute. Stay within arms reach at all times.
- Make sure an adult is present by the pool at all times when children are swimming.
- Fence around your pool and make sure it is at least 4 feet high. If your pool is above ground be sure to pull up and lock your pool ladder.
- Install pool covers and pool and gate alarms.
- Teach your children how to swim.
25. Pets and Toddler Safety:
Roughly 44% of all family households in the United States have a dog (American Pet Products Association, 2015-2016) and according to the Centers for Disease Control, there are 4.7 million dog bites in the United States each year.
The majority of dog bites in children are done by a dog they know, usually their own. So preparation is key to ensuring your toddler is safe around your family dog.
Tips for toddler safety around the family dog:
Teach your child to handle the dog gently. Be gentle when petting the dog, no tail or ear pulling, no hitting the dog, no yelling at the dog. Dog toys are dog toys only.
Do not allow your toddler to play with the dog’s toys. Teach your child to never put their hands in the dog’s food dish and try to avoid having your toddler walk around with food. Toddlers and dogs are often at the same level and dogs will lung for food.
When it comes to toddler safety, there is a lot to know. Toddlers are capable of getting into many difficult situations once they are able to walk. Unfortunately, they do not know the consequences of their actions. Given their stage of development physically and emotionally, it is not surprising that toddlers can experience extreme frustration and act out (tantrums).
Keep this in mind next time your toddler is testing your limits. Instead of getting angry, listen and try to communicate through your words and actions that you understand. Toddlers pick up on far more than we think. They simply cannot express the way they feel.
Granted, there will be times when you will have to be firm when dealing with dangers around the house. Try to make these interactions more the exception than the rule. If you take this approach, you may find that when you discipline your child you will be more effective.
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