SILVER SPRING, Md., April 27, 2012 — Crawling. It’s one of the major milestones every parent prepares for and hopes for, while simultaneously dreading what that means for the peace and order of their lives. It’s also the biggest change parents have to prepare for since the birth of their child. Once baby is mobile there is no going back. From crawling to walking, babies start getting into everything. Their curiosity and desire to explore can lead to dangerous situations if parents do not take the proper precautions.
The stairs and baby gates
Stairs are one of the most dangerous places for a developing baby. Knowing that what they want is up or down the stairs, or simply wanting to experiment with these obstacles, most babies won’t hesitate to try to tackle a staircase by themselves. For this reason it is important to have baby gates in place to prevent your little one from taking an unintended trip—or tumble—down the stairs. There are two types of baby gates, the wall mounted locking gates and the tension mounted sliding gates.
Wall mounted gates screw into the wall or banister. They have two pieces that get mounted, the gate itself with a folding hinge and a locking mechanism to hold the gate securely in place. These types of gates are good for stairs because they are sturdy and are more complicated for little ones to figure out.
That being said, the wall mounted gate is not the perfect solution for all homes. If you are renting a home or have some other situation where you can’t screw semi-permanent fixtures into the wall, tension mounted gates are perfect for your needs. Tension mounted gates also tend to be less expensive, so if you are on a tight budget, this might be the way to go. Tension gates are good ways to corral young infants to specific rooms, and because they fold and are not permanently mounted, are easy to take with you on visits to the grandparents or vacations.
The First Years makes an affordable, easy to use tension gate, the Deluxe Single Set Gate.
This wooden gate uses four rubber scuff-free bumpers to hold the gate in place. The “Single Set” control allows you to easily set the width of the gate once, and not have to think about it again. Simply lift the locking mechanism and the gate will fold for you then push the bar back down to return it to the pre-determined width of your doorway or stairwell. Made with vertical slats, this gate is also designed to hinder climbing.
Electric outlets and plugs
Electricity makes our lives easier every day; however, the outlets, chords, and power sources in our homes can provide a real danger to young children. While most parents immediately think about getting the plastic outlet plugs to cover unused outlets, there are a lot of other electronic hazards in the home. Today homes are full of surge protectors and power strips. There are phone chargers and laptop chords. There are printers and audio docking stations. So what’s the plugged-in parent to do?
Manufacturers have kept up with our increased dependence on electronics and make a variety of products to help protect your baby and your electronics. Safety 1st makes the Power Strip Cover designed to protect power strips that are in use. The slot in the top allows the chords to make their way out to appliances while the case protects the plugs at the strip. The cover is also expandable, allowing you to expand it to fit longer power strips without having your smaller power strips sliding around inside a permanently molded larger cover.
In addition to the flat outlet plug covers, a number of companies, including Safety 1st and Kidco, make covers for standard outlets in use. Some of these even include chord shorteners to reduce the extra length that a baby might be able to get to and injure herself with. Safety 1st has also designed a domed plug cover designed to cover power adapters that are more permanent fixtures in today’s outlets.
With the advent of LCD and LED TVs came an influx of large screened, relatively light-weight televisions. The problem with large, light-weight objects that light up and project sound is that they attract the attention of children, especially those who can climb entertainment centers and television stands. Much like the furniture anchors used to ensure large pieces like bookshelves or upright dressers tip forward when baby tries to climb them, television anchors are now available. Safety 1st makes a Professional Grade Flat Screen TV Lock that anchors the TV to the wall, thus preventing the TV from falling forwards or backwards, and Kidco make an Anti-Tip TV Strap to the back of the TV and the stand that it sits on, which work well for TVs that sit too far from a wall for more permanent mounting.
You can expect your baby to try putting her fingers and toys in anything with an opening on it, and pressing any button that she finds. Now imagine your computer. Not the laptop that’s so easy to move out of reach, but the tower that sits on the floor next to your desk. Think of the USB slots and the buttons to open and close CD drives. Computers are baby magnets. Luckily, Parent Units has thought of this and developed a cover to protect your machine when not in use. Simply apply the Velcro tabs around the face of your machine then attach the cover. The PC Guard Tower Protector keeps little fingers from poking and prodding things that could easily be broken by curious hands.
There are also button guards you can purchase that are clear plexi-glass protectors to slide over the power controls for your television and DVD player to prevent little ones from taking control of your television-watching schedule.
Having a pet around can be fun with children, but the miscellany that we have in our houses for our furry friends can be dangerous for little children. Young children can get out of a doggie door, and bowls of water left on the floor looks like a play area, while bowls of kibble can look like tasty snacks, and litter boxes look like sandboxes.
The best—and cheapest—solution to these problems is to remove them. Replace doors with doggie doors or secure the door so that it can no longer open. Keep rooms where litter boxes are off limits to little ones. Elevate food and water bowls so that animals can get to them but children can’t. But there are other options.
There are automatic pet food dispensers that can protect dry food, dispensing a small amount at a given time of day. Clevercat makes a top-entry litter box that they market as “virtually baby and toddler proof.” The top entry design allows cats in and out of the box, but makes it harder for young children to reach the opening, and if they do, the distance to the litter is too far for their little arms to reach.
Cabinets and doors
All those kitchen cabinets that are below your counters have “baby” written all over them. Anything that can open will be of interest to your little one, as will anything kept in those cabinets. That includes Tupperware, pots and pans, and cleaning products. There are several types of cabinet and drawer locks available on the market. There are pressure released clips that screw into the cabinet door, there are locks which loop around the handles of cabinets, and there are magnetic locks. Not all of these solutions will work for every cabinet or draw, so it’s important to look closely at the product to see how it functions before making a purchase.
With the rise in popularity of bottom drawer freezers comes the increased problem of another thing children can get into. Freezers pose a real danger to young children. Aside from the hypothermia threat if a child were somehow to get caught in a bottom drawer freezer, they are also designed to be air tight, so suffocation is a big issue. But while your child getting trapped in a closed freezer is a long shot, there are the more likely problems of having your frozen goods unintentionally defrosted on the kitchen floor. Think about the mess a carton of melted ice cream can make. Freezer locks are available from a number of manufacturers and easily attach to your unit, usually with double sided tape. The straps keep the drawer from opening.
While your child’s new found mobility is a milestone to be celebrated, it’s also a milestone that requires extra vigilance and preparation from parents. Children learn by exploring the world around them, but it’s our job to make sure that world is safe for them.
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