Babyproofing Tips for Infants and Young Children

Baby proofing

The urge to protect your child develops long before they are born. While that instinct is natural, the tricky part is figuring out how to create a safe and secure environment at home. Here with some expert tips is Joelle McConlogue, MD, a pediatrician at Bayside Medical Group in Pleasanton.

Dr. McConlogue also discusses kidproofing your home for kids of all ages in a HealthTalks podcast.

As babies grow and become more mobile, the need for babyproofing becomes more important. Dr. McConlogue encourages families to be proactive when it comes to safety at home.

“The main thing is trying to anticipate what babies and children need before they get to each stage. It means thinking ahead before your baby starts to roll or pull up or crawl and getting ready for that,” she said. “Take into consideration the developmental stage of your child: What will they be doing in the next one or two months? And what will that put them at risk for?” For example, if you have a baby who’s about to crawl, make sure you have your safety gates on your stairs already set up before they actually start to crawl.”

Little kids and babies have an amazing ability to surprise us with the new things they are suddenly able to do. One way to uncover hazards at home is to get down on your hands and knees to see the world from your baby’s perspective. Look for anything sharp, small loose parts, exposed electrical outlets, cords, or anything that could pose a threat to your little one.

Dr. McConlogue suggests checking in with other parents and your pediatrician for advice on what to expect in the coming months for your child. “Talk to friends who may have kids that are a little older and ask what their children are getting into so you can get an idea of where you’ll be in a few months,” she said. “And then also talk to your pediatrician, who can always give you good advice about what to watch out for.”

Some of the babyproofing basics include securing heavy furniture to the wall, installing safety latches on cabinets and drawers, covering electrical outlets, and securing loose cords to reduce the risk of accidents. But there are many hazards that may not be as readily apparent, such as magnets and batteries, according to Dr. McConlogue.

“Magnets are extremely risky because if swallowed, they can have a magnetic pull, possibly causing bowel obstruction and significant abdominal problems,” she explained. “Batteries are caustic, so if they are swallowed, they are also a medical emergency. Especially button batteries, since they are a nice small size. All batteries must be kept out of the reach of children because there is a significant risk if they were to swallow those.”

The upsurge of parents working from home also comes with an increase of items that could be dangerous for young children. “Be aware of the equipment that you’re using at home that you might not have had around your children before. This includes cords, because with laptops and monitors you have a lot more plugs and electric connections,” she said. “Make sure that you have outlet covers and that the kids are not around all those computer cords that they can get tangled in or grab and chew on.

If you find yourself in a lot of virtual meetings, consider setting up a safe play space for young toddlers and infants. “For your younger kids, it’s good to have a contained area, either a playpen or a space where you have safe toys and safe furniture, so if you are distracted while on a call, they are in a secured space,” she said.

Dr. McConlogue also noted that adults need to be careful with hot drinks around little kids. “People will often have their coffee or their tea, and it will be on the tablecloth or coffee table with them. If their child is able to pull up and reach that, you’ll need to be careful that they’re not able to pull it down on themselves, causing burns; that, unfortunately, is a common injury for kids.”

Sometimes, you just can’t prevent an accident, so the next-best thing is to be prepared. Dr. McConlogue recommends having a first aid kit available and the number for poison control prominently posted. Program emergency numbers into your phone and consider taking a CPR course designed for children.

“If your child accidentally ingests or swallows anything, the very first thing that I tell parents to do is call the Poison Control center right away. Don’t try to use any information from friends or online sources,” she stressed. “The Poison Control center is available 24 hours a day, and they will walk you through what to do.”

For more advice from Dr. McConlogue, check out Sleeping Isn’t Just for Babies, Doctor’s Advice for Helping Your Child Get Enough Rest, and Avoiding Choking Hazards During the Holidays


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