5 Ways to Update Your Toddler Proofing Measures

5 Ways to Update Your Toddler Proofing Measures

Here's how to update your safety measures at home once your baby becomes a toddler.

When your little one starts walking and begins exploring in greater depth, you may start to wonder what the next step is for child proofing your living space. It’s a good question to ask yourself: “As you prepare your home for the toddler stage, every part of the home should be reviewed to ensure the safety of your newly and very mobile little one,” says Geneuviève Thibault, founder of bblüv, a baby and toddler product retailer. “As your toddler grows and develops strength and ability, some tools, such as gates and play yards, can become obsolete as they triumphantly climb right over them. Now, the little things we can easily overlook, like outlet covers, cabinet door locks, door handles, potentially hazardous house plants, pets, and cleaning products, become critically important as your toddler expands and explores his environment.”

With this in mind, here are five areas of your home that you’ll want to scrutinize.

Bathroom

There are so many things that a child could get into—and make a major mess with—in a bathroom, from lipstick to toilet-paper rolls. “The toddler stage finds little ones still testing every object with their hands and mouth,” Thibault says. As a result, parents should lock all cabinets with a childproof latch to keep any cleaners and medications out of reach. It’s also important to keep your poisons and sharps “well out of reach… high up above the reach of the child,” in case someone forgets to relock the cabinet after use, says Carolyn Ziegler, a child proofer with 35 years of experience and founder of Dreambaby.

There’s another potential danger lurking in your bathroom: the toilet. Besides the obvious sanitary issues surrounding children playing in the toilet, they could also drown, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The water may seem shallow enough to us, but it’s the perfect height and depth for a toddler to fall in face first and get stuck with his head underwater.

“You have to be very careful that your child does not have access to the toilet,” Ziegler says. “There are a number of products that can be used to close your toilet and make sure it is fully closed.” You can either purchase a latch specifically for the toilet, or use a childproof safety lock like the ones on your cabinets.

Windows

Nearly 5,000 children fall out of windows annually, with urban children being the most frequently affected, according to the CPSC. Though most modern homes have windows with screens and locks, those measures just simply aren’t enough. Screens are meant to stop insects, not children, so they are not a means of preventing falls.

“When living in an apartment you need to understand the height of your apartment. You do not want children to have access to fall out of those windows,” Ziegler says. “So you must make sure you have a restrictor on [windows] so they will only open four inches, no more. You want to be able to make sure you can get a bit of fresh air, but the children are secured within.”

Though there’s no substitute for parental supervision, parents can’t keep a watchful eye 24/7. “Window and door alarms also alert parents quickly to potential dangers and are especially helpful during times when parents are sleeping, Thibault recommends. “Avoid putting shelves or climbable furniture under windows.”

Falling isn’t the only window-related danger for children. A study by the Center for Injury Research and Policy shows that nearly 17,000 children younger than 6 are hospitalized annually for injuries caused by window blinds, which can be a potential strangulation hazard. "Many blinds have got long cords,” Ziegler says. “Make sure you keep those well out of reach of children.” In order to prevent injury, replace traditional blinds with cordless blinds, or get a retrofitting kit that allows you to tie up cords in spaces that are out of reach of children. And don’t let renting inhibit your toddler proofing. “If you can’t screw things in because you’re renters, don’t do it. There are plenty of products that are adhesive, or work on handles that you can slide over,” according to Ziegler.

Furniture

The CPSC advises parents anchor all furniture to the wall, or secure it with anti-tip brackets. This includes dressers, entertainment sets, televisions, and any furnishings with drawers. Additionally, to reduce risk of any of these items toppling over, be certain to use all products according to manufacturer instructions.

According to anchorit.gov, even if your furniture is safely mounted, children can climb up shelves. To discourage children from scaling furnishings in an attempt to reach appealing objects, never store toys, remote controls, or other desirable items on top of tall furniture.

Kitchen

Just like the bathroom, the kitchen is filled with potential hazards. As always, you’ll want to secure all cabinets and drawers with childproof latches, but that’s not all. “One of the things I try to encourage parents to do is actually do most of the cooking while the child is asleep so you haven’t got all of this buzzing activity, sharp knives, hot stoves, ovens, and everything at the same time,” Ziegler advises.

Of course, on a busy day it’s not always convenient to wait until nighttime to prepare dinner or do the week’s meal prep. When waiting isn’t an option, try to cook on the back burners so children can’t reach up and grab anything. Additionally, always “make sure you always turn [pot’s and pan’s] handles inwards,” Ziegler says.

Heating System

We all know how cold it can get in New York when winter rolls around. However, radiators may be a potential hazard. “Parents with radiators can install covers that are both functional and fashionable, Thibault says. These covers can prevent children from coming into direct contact and sustaining serious burns.

Also begin educating your children about the risk of injury from burns. “Start teaching them the word hot very early,” Ziegler advises. “You need to sound a little alarming when you say the word. You need to start instilling the understanding of hot. You don’t want them to be touching that hot radiator and getting that burn.”

And though a nice hot bath may seem ideal after a day in the snow, keep your water heater set to less than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. “A lot of water that comes out of your tap is very, very hot and a child can be scalded by it,” Ziegler warns. “Make sure that if there is a temperature gauge that you can vary, bring it down.”

Lastly, if you’re not sure if an area of your home is fully toddler proofed, you may need a change of perspective. “Get down on all fours and crawl around the room and look up as if you were that toddler…You’re really going to identify with what your child is seeing,” Ziegler says.

“Check out your home from your toddler’s viewpoint,” Thibault advises. “What looks interesting but is potentially dangerous?” This could point out any aspects of child proofing you might have overlooked.