Babyproofing Your Home
Heather L. Zimmerman, M.D.
Boys Town Pediatrics
Babyproofing is so important because unintentional injuries are a very common cause for emergency room visits and serious injuries to children.
We try to remind parents early on. The most important things for babyproofing are sleeping in a safe manner, avoiding cigarette smoke exposure, and avoiding falls.
Even though babies, typically, don't roll until three to five months old, a lot of newborn and two-week old babies can roll. You can never leave them alone on a changing table, couch, bed, for even a second or you'll have the baby that rolls.
When do parents need to increase their babyproofing?
As soon as we're seeing early motor development and signs of mobility, which start at four to six months with rolling and starting to be able to in upright seating positions for play, things like that. We have to start to think about how much their environment is expanding and all the new dangers to them.
Early on it's thinking about your floor play. If your baby is able to roll over a few times then he or she might lift their head up and hit their head on a sharp corner if you have a low end table or something like that. So we're talking about using foam cushions to cover the edges of tables and ottomans that would have sharp edges like that.
The next thing is, four to six month olds like to reach out and grab everything. We want to think about, anywhere something is hanging off something higher that a baby would grab and pull things down.
I think the musts by six months are outlet covers, foam corners on end tables and things like that, and by nine months and probably earlier, gates on any stairways.
Most babies are crawling by nine months and that's when they can get in a lot of trouble.
By 15 months, they are really inventive climbers. They can figure out how to bring something over and use it like a stool to get up on another level. So you need to take that level of child proofing up to your shoulder level.
What danger is most often overlooked by parents?
A lot of people don't take the time to think about safe storage of household cleaning items, personal hygiene items, and medications.
I know in our own home we always kept the cleaning stuff below the kitchen sink and I didn't really think about it until my son was that age where he loved to open doors and cabinets. I realized, oh, we need one of those cabinet locks on this to keep it safe.
Storing that stuff safely either locking it up or getting it up high where they can't reach is really important.