Whether you are about to have a new baby, moving into a new home with a young child, or expecting a visit from small children, you’ll want to make sure that your home is safe for the youngest inhabitants. There are a few different steps you’ll want to take, depending on the age of the children. This can add to the work if you’re preparing a house for children of different ages, but some thought will help you prevent any young children in your house from getting into too much trouble.
For a newborn, most of the potential risks have to do with the general environment. Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are even more important with babies around than for adults who can evaluate the environment for themselves. You’ll also want to make sure that cribs and changing tables are safe. Use furniture with solid construction, and use the parts included rather than substituting if at all possible. Don’t use soft, fluffy bedding with infants—it looks more comfortable, but they don’t always have the muscle control to keep it away from their faces.
You’ll also want to secure anything above the crib that the baby could reach or that could fall, like television or stereo equipment, and keep hazards such as electrical outlets or cords from curtains and blinds out of reach.
Once toddlers have started crawling, walking and climbing, you’ll need to see what’s in their path. Start by looking at things from your child’s perspective, to see what places and objects might look tempting. Watch for things like bright colors and accessible hiding places. Keep in mind that bottles with childproof lids may not be completely childproof.
It will get harder to keep anything sharp, poisonous or otherwise dangerous out of your child’s reach as they become more mobile, so when they’re still too young to be taught, you’ll need to find good places that they can’t get to. Cabinet and drawer locks can help to keep kids from getting into things they shouldn’t. There are also doorknob latches that can be used to keep them out of certain rooms, or from getting into basements.
For small children who’ve started to walk but aren’t surefooted yet, safety gates on the stairs will keep them from going up or down unsupervised and potentially falling. There are different types to fit different kinds of spaces, so do your research and make sure you’re getting the right one. You’ll also want to put child locks on windows, even on the ground floor.
For older children, it’s still important to make sure that furniture is safe. Use corner or edge bumpers for anything particularly sharp, and secure anything that might fall over if pulled or bumped into.
As children get older, you’ll be able to teach them how to avoid getting hurt, but securing the more dangerous places and objects in your house is an important part of keeping them safe while they’re still small.