Preparing Your Home For Toddler Safety  

by Saviz Artang


Children from age one to age three are considered toddlers. It is a time of learning their environment. It is a time for them to explore every corner of every room and everything in between. Remember that the world is new to them and they want to get to know it.

Exploring is a good thing. It is a natural part of their growth. As your toddler explores they gain knowledge, independence, and confidence. It teaches them to use all five of their senses. It teaches them how to put things together, how things work, and enlarges their world moment by moment. They should be encouraged to explore your home, within limits of course.

It can be very difficult to keep up with your toddler and they can get from point A to point B in the time it takes you to turn around for just a second to do your normal daily chores. So you need to have confidence that your home is safe for your toddler to explore, even when you aren't watching them.

In this article, we will explore areas of your home and help you identify danger zones, then help you fix them so your explorer is safe in his new adventures. Remember, in every room of the house, get on your hands and knees and look at the world from your toddler's point of view. This will give you a better perspective on the dangers that lurk there.

Let's start where your toddler starts his or her day, their bedroom.

Is the glass in your toddler's bedroom made of tempered glass? Non-Tempered glass is dangerous, because it does not break into the tiny pieces that safety glass does. If your toddler's windows are non-tempered, you can either have new window glass installed or apply security film to them. The film is a much less expensive solution and binds the pieces of glass together if the window is ever broken.

Also, window locks are an essential item to have throughout the house, including your toddler's room. They allow a window to be open, but not too far. Never leave the window open more than four inches. Gates with vertical slats can also help prevent your toddler from falling out of the window. Screens will not hold them!

Placing your toddler's bed or crib in the proper place is also important. Experts recommend the space between the bars be no wider than two and three-eighths inches apart. Do not place your toddler's crib or other furniture under the window or near baseboard or other heaters.

Items left in the crib need to be at a minimum. Make sure your toddler cannot stack or use those items to get out of their crib. You might be surprised how inventive your toddler can be when he or she wants to get somewhere. You'll turn around and find them in some of the most impossible spots you can imagine.

Look around for any cords or other dangerous items. As your toddler gets more mobile these items present a great danger to them. Make sure you tie all cords and similar items well out of their reach. Any item that is longer than seven inches can be a danger to your toddler. Make sure they cannot get to them and remember your toddler will be more inventive and curious than you might think.

Of course, all medications, baby powder, lotion, and other items must be kept out of reach or stored in a childproof cabinet in your toddler's room.

Do not use extension cords in your toddler's room or anywhere else in the house where they can reach them. The danger of strangulation or electrocution is very real and should be taken seriously. Make sure you buy protective covers for all outlets. Having the outlets installed higher up the wall, out of reach of your toddler is an even better solution and much more convenient for you.

Hiding outlets behind furniture that your toddler cannot move or get behind is another solution until you can do more. The advice on electrical outlets also applies to the rest of the house so I won't be covering that again for every room. Parents and toddlers both spend a lot of time in the kitchen, so we'll go there next.

Emergency phone numbers should be located everywhere there is a phone, including the kitchen. In a time of stress it is difficult to think straight or find phone books and the phone numbers you need, so keep them handy at all times.

Not just for toddler safety, but for all homes, there should be a fire extinguisher in the kitchen. Take care of that right away, especially if you are a parent.

Toddlers love to climb into things like cabinets, your dishwasher, stove, and refrigerators. Make sure the dishwasher is always latched. Use childproof locks on your cabinet doors and on your refrigerator. They even make latches for your oven.

Speaking of the oven, maybe the most dangerous spot in the kitchen for your curious toddler use a stove guard to protect them. A stove guard keeps them from being able to reach the burners. Cook on your back burners whenever possible. If the controls for the stove are placed on the front of the stove, you will need to remove them.

Train yourself to not use any lower cabinets like under the sink to store hazardous products. Even soap is dangerous. Many soaps contain lye and can poison your child. This applies to all rooms where you store products, including the laundry room. Remember, if it can be reached, it will be reached.

Now do the same for all sharp objects like knives, forks, scissors, pizza cutters, and ice picks. Train yourself to put these items away every time you use them.

If you keep liquor in the kitchen or have a bar in your house where they are kept, make sure your toddler cannot reach it. The tiniest bit of alcohol can make a small child very sick and too much could prove fatal.

Ok, you get an idea of what to do in the kitchen, now let's head for your bathroom.

A huge number of accidents occur in the bathroom each year affecting both adults and toddlers. It's a good thing to keep that in mind when preparing your bathroom for safety.

Overhead door locks are available to be purchased and used to keep toddlers out of rooms that are not in use. You should buy these and install them on all bathroom doors.

If you have any low cabinets, get childproof locks for those the same as it was advised for you to do in your kitchen. All medications, ointments, shampoos, soap, and other products should be kept out of your toddler's reach.

Do not leave hairdryers, electric shavers, radios, and other appliances plugged in. It's a good idea to keep those out of reach as well because the cords are hazardous to your toddler.

Fire Departments recommend that your water temperature should be set at 120 degrees. Setting your hot water heater higher than that produces the danger of scalding.

Water safety applies in the bathroom, the same as it does for any pool area. A child can easily drown in your bathroom. It only takes two inches of water to create a drowning hazard. Do not leave the tub full of water and buy locks for your toilet seat. Not only can those save your toddler from drowning, it can also help you avoid the headaches of learning the types of things your toddler can find to plug the toilet with.

Your toddler should never be alone in the bathroom. If you are bathing them and have to leave, dry them off and take them with you. Better safe than sorry, as the saying goes.

Your toddler will also spend a lot of time in your family room, den, or living room, so let's explore that area before we allow them to.

Do you have plants? These seemingly harmless and decorative plants may pose a very dangerous problem for your child. Are you sure that none of your plants are poisonous? Look up information about your plants in an encyclopedia, online, or consult a poison control center to be sure.

Do you have a fireplace? You can purchase guards for fireplaces at many stores. Glass fire screens are not acceptable. They get very hot and can burn your toddler if they touch it. Make sure you create a safe area around the fireplace and that your toddler cannot get into it. Where they can go, they will and the fireplace is an obvious hazard, whether it is lit or not.

Make sure all the doors in your house are safe. If they have metal doorstops, replace them with doorstops that are made entirely of rubber. Doorstops are inviting to young children who play on the floor.

As difficult as it sounds, all furniture should be placed away from the windows. Windows pose a danger to your toddler and they will climb the furniture before you know it.

Is any of your furniture easy to tip over? Floor lamps and other items, which can be turned over easily, are dangerous. Either get rid of them or secure them to a wall somehow.

Also, if your furniture in any room of the house has sharp corners, something needs to be done about it. Either purchase furniture without sharp corners or buy cushions that can be placed over the corners. You can also make your own. Just be sure it's well padded so the corner cannot cause serious injury.

If you have a home office, I could write a whole article about the dangers for your toddler there. Use the overhead door locks to keep your toddler out of your office if possible. That's the best advice and might save you having to do a lot of work over again after your toddler gets through with it.

Do you take your toddler into your bedroom?

Make sure all lower drawers and cabinets have childproof locks on them, closet doors have overhead locks, and any chests or other items are also locked.

Jewelry is especially dangerous for your toddler to get their hands on. Cosmetics can be poisonous. Sharp objects like manicure sets or sewing kits can also be dangerous. Again, make sure all cords are tied up where they are out of your toddler's reach.

Do you have older children? Let's see what hazards wait in their bedrooms.

You are probably careful about the types of toys you buy for your toddler, but are you careful to make sure they don't get their little hands on the toys you buy for your older children? You will need your older children to assist you in keeping their toys out of your toddler's reach. This is a very difficult task, but you have to remember toys made for older children can harm younger ones.

Are there stairs in your home?

You will need to purchase gates for the top and bottom of the staircase if you have a toddler in your home. This is a must. They should have vertical slats no more than two and three-eighths inches apart and should be sturdy and secure. Finding a way to bolt them to the walls is best.

If your banisters have more than four inches of space between supports, then you will have to solve that issue as well. You can use particle board, plywood, plastic or other sheeted product to cover those areas and keep your toddler from slipping between supports and onto the stairs alone.

This article in no way covers all the things you will need to do to make your home a safe place for your toddler to explore, but it is our hope we have gotten you in the right frame of mind to find the rest on your own.

About the Author

Saviz Artang is the creator of the popular and fun toddler PC game "Alphabet Fun with MaeMae and Jakey" at http://artangco.com. Saviz is a happy father of two and an educational game creator. Saviz and his wife Carrie and their two kids live in Savage MN. (artangconsulting@hotmail.com)

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