From a ‘little' perspective ...
When baby-proofing a home, it's a good idea for parents to actually get down on all fours to a baby or a young child's level to see what potential dangers exist.
While unfortunately no environment can be 100 percent safe, many precautions can be taken to ensure that, along with close supervision, children are protected from harm and injury.
Alma Barrandey, interim director of Arizona Western College's Dr. Kathryn Watson Child Development Learning Lab, said that their goal at their facility is to keep children safe as well as to educate them on the rules.
“One of the big things for us is the education of the children,” Barrandey said. “We watch them and keep them safe but when they're alone they could do something dangerous.”
She said that their classrooms, which are broken up into separate rooms for infants, one-year-olds, two- to three-year-olds and three- to five-year-olds, are set up so that there is no tall furniture that may block a child from a teacher's sight.
“They're always supervised by sound and sight,” she said. “The way the classrooms are set up, you can stand in any corner of the classroom and see everything in the room ... We strategically face furniture so teachers can always be watching all children.”
Rooms are also fit with things like cabinet latches, socket protectors, baby gates and door guards to keep little ones from smashing their fingers.
Barrandey added that they also make sure to have open toy bins without heavy lids in their classrooms that can trap a baby's head. She noted that the teachers are also watching them to make sure they don't climb into toilets as young children are fascinated with water.
In the infant room, they are sure not to have cords next a baby's crib. They also avoid soft bedding, place children on their backs to sleep and make sure crib slates are close enough so they can't get their head trapped.
Gloria Renteria, teacher of the one-year-old class, said that many of the doors and gates are baby proof so that only adults can open them.
“Children are very smart, but they don't understand that there are two parts on how to open the gate, they can't do both at the same time,” she said.
She said because falls are the number one accident that causes the most damage to a child, they also have foam padding to cushion falls that could occur in their play areas.
“It is a lot of prevention,” she said. “These are the kinds of things that we have to think about.”
Sarah Womer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6858. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSSarahWomer or on Twitter at @YSSarahWomer.
Baby-proofing tips for inside the home:
- Start by turning down the water temperature on your water heater - keep it under 110 to avoid scalding children in the bath
- Consider purchasing and installing toilet lid locks
- Clear cosmetics and shampoos off sink and tub ledges, as they pose a poison risk
- Put decals on sliding-glass doors so children won't run into them
- Use doorknob covers on doors you don't want your child to open
- Install window guards or adjust windows so they cannot open more than six inches
- Tie up the cords to blinds so children doesn't get tangled up in them
- Do not place a crib, playpen, high chair or bed anywhere near cords for blinds
- Install safety glass in low windows and in French doors so they won't shatter
- Don't place furniture or anything that can be climbed on near a window
- Cover all unused electrical outlets with safety plugs that snap into outlets
- Check for exposed outlets behind furniture that may have been overlooked
- Purchase a fireplace hearth cover to reduce the rise of children falling into a fireplace
- Be sure to keep a fire extinguisher in your home as well smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors
- Install baby gates at the bottom of stairs (can also be used in doorways)
- Place the safety latch on the side away from your child's reach
- Never leave anything on the stairs you can trip on when carrying your baby
Furniture and Accessories
- Put away any unstable or rickety furniture your baby could pull over
- Fasten high bookcases or other tall pieces for furniture to the wall so your children can't pull them down
- Keep all drawers and cabinets closed with latches so your child can't shut fingers in them or climb on them
- Keep all medications and cleaning products stored in a locked cabinet
- Consider purchasing nonskid pads for rugs
- Purchase electrical tape to secure cords away from children
- Get heavy-weight picture hooks to prevent pictures or other decorations from falling off the wall
- Check your doorstops; many have removable caps that pose a choking hazard.
- Make sure all of your houseplants are nontoxic varieties. Some plants are extremely poisonous.
- Vacuum regularly to suck up any small item that can cause choking.
- Turn the handles of pots and pans toward the back of the stove or counter
- Use the back burners for cooking whenever possible
- Consider purchasing stove-knob covers to prevent children from turning on the burners
- Don't let your baby play at your feet while cooking
- Never leave a boiling pot or sizzling skillet unattended on the stove
- Teach your child that the oven is “hot” and not to touch it
- Keep plug-in appliances, such as toasters and can openers, put away where children can't reach them
*Information provided by Arizona Western College's Child Development Learning Laboratory