Baby Proofing Grandma's Houseby Dianna Graveman
Before your first grandchild becomes mobile at about six months, you'll need to have thoroughly babyproofed your home. So why not start immediately, as soon as the baby arrives? A pro-active grandparent is a well-prepared grandparent. Be ready and waiting at the first invitation to babysit. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Make sure your grandchild can't leave the house when your back is turned and can't open doors to rooms that aren't thoroughly childproofed. Door handle guards or special door knob covers that are difficult for little ones to grip will help with this. Don't forget to use them on closet doors and bathroom doors. Replace lever door handles with regular knobs, since the levers are harder to childproof.
- Install childproof covers on all electrical outlets.
- Store household cleaners and medicines out of reach, and attach safety latches on cabinets.
- Post the number to the Poison Control Center where you can find it quickly. Keep medicines in the original containers so you'll have the correct information available in case you need to call for help. Make sure all medicines have childproof caps.
- Keep your hot water heater set between 120 and 130 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid scalding.
- Buy pressure-mounted stair gates, but do not rely on them to keep your grandchild from falling down the stairs. With enough momentum, a good-sized toddler could dislodge the gate. Vigilance is always the best policy.
- If any of your furniture has sharp edges, cover the edges with corner guards made especially for that purpose.
- If you cook when your grandchild is over, remember to use the back burners on the stove and keep the pot handles turned toward the back of the stove. Place knob protectors on the stove knobs. Make sure no stool or chair is positioned close to the stove.
- Store your garbage can behind a locked closet door. Keep plastic garbage bags and sandwich bags locked out of reach.
- Remove small magnets from your refrigerator that are within reach of little hands. Keep on the lookout for any small objects that have fallen on the floor or that might be in reach of little ones. Anything that goes in the mouth becomes a choking hazard.
- Enclose your swimming pool with a locked gate. Make sure the slats in the fence are close together so no child can slip through.
- Install finger-pinch door guards and drapery cord wind-ups. Make sure all cords are up and out of reach when your grandchild is visiting.
- If you must own a firearm, remember to always store ammunition and the firearm separately and keep both under lock and key.
- Purchase a safe highchair or booster seat to use when your grandchild visits.
- If your grandchild will sleep at your home, purchase a crib with slats close enough together so a baby can't slip through. (Check the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission for government regulations: http://www.cpsc.gov/.
- Remove blankets and stuffed animals from the crib; they can be suffocation hazards. Consider dressing your grandchild in a warm one-piece sleeper instead of using a blanket. Use only a fitted bed sheet that tucks snugly around the crib mattress. Remember to place a baby to sleep on his or her back only, and check on your sleeping grandchild often.
- Consider keeping bed side rails for an older child who is still young enough to be in danger of rolling off a bed and getting hurt.
- Check any houseplants to make sure they don't pose a poison risk, and keep them far beyond the reach of children.
- Closely supervise your grandchild around any pet, regardless of how long you've owned the pet or who well you think you know the animal's temperament. Even a docile pet can become suddenly aggressive.
- Regular home safety rules always apply, of course, whether a baby is present or not: Check your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors regularly. Keep fire extinguishers handy. Tack down area rugs or attach backing that will keep them from sliding.
- Stay aware and informed! Visit the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission for more tips.
- Spread the news: Show and tell your grandchild's parents how you've childproofed your home so they will feel confident and relaxed when visiting. Invite them to offer additional suggestions. Make it a team effort!
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