Beyond the baby gate

There are some forgotten kid-proofing areas in every home, make sure you cover them all for your child's safety

When baby-proofing your home, obvious considerations like drawer guards and gates, kitchens and stairways may spring to mind.

But are there elements, or rooms, parents tend to overlook?

How ‘bout the kid’s bedroom which is especially when tots are transitioning from crib to bed, says Tracey Ruiz of The Sleep Doula.

Ruiz regularly child-proofs rooms as part of her job providing parents with sleep solutions for their wee ones.

It’s a tricky transition time, she says, when unexpected accidents can happen.

“They look for things to get into,” she says of tots learning to sleep on their own in a new bed.

“They want your attention.”

When baby-proofing a bedroom, Ruiz literally sits on the floor in the middle of the room to see what kids can get into. She’s been in hundreds of homes and has seen and heard it all.

The phrase she says she most often hears from parents: “Our child doesn’t bother with that.”

But kids are smarter than we think they are, she says.

“No body ever gives these kids the benefit they’re due.”

Just when you think a child can’t get into anything, bam: he pulls the heat vents out of the floor. That’s a real-life example from a client who said junior wouldn’t get into anything.

A common element parents overlook is anchoring dressers or large pieces of furniture in their child’s bedroom, Ruiz says. They think because an adult can’t move it, a child won’t be able to move it, she says.

But once a child starts climbing and opening drawers, the structure can become unstable, she says, citing one case in the US where the dresser toppled over.

“The child ended up dying.”

The solution with furniture is easy, she says: “Screw it down.”

Another tip Ruiz has, for when baby is still in crib, is not to wait too long before moving the crib down to the lowest rung.

When your tot is a baby, the crib should be at the highest level so you can bend over with ease, she says. But once baby starts to roll over, you should adjust the crib level from the uppermost to the lower most level.

It may be painful on your back but it could prevent baby falling.

She remembers one client, with an 11 month old, whose crib was adjusted to the middle level only.

“The baby actually ended up falling out of the crib.”

Jodi Nathanson, mother of two young children aged two-and-a-half and five, remembers feeling stressed out about baby-proofing their home once their first child began to crawl.

“I was always feeling anxious about it,” she says.

As first-time parents, Nathanson and her husband opted to hire a baby-proofing consultant to come in and make recommendations as to what needed doing.

The service included installation of the recommended elements, mostly gates for stairs and magnets that would keep drawers shut.
“It was expensive but I was so stressed out,” she says.

Home consultations, such as the one provided by Kiddie Proofers, cost $45, and all of the recommended elements plus installation can range anywhere from $1,200–2,500, says the company’s Samantha Schnurbach.

She says that parents tend to forget about fire safety when child-proofing their homes. People need the proper fire extinguishers, smoke detectors and alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and ladders.

But safety isn’t just having the items, she suggests — it’s having them in an accessible place where parents can retrieve them in case of fire.

She says people may buy the correct fire extinguisher but leave it tucked away in a box or in the hallway — not a useful strategy when the house is on fire and you need to get to your children’s bedrooms.

“How do you get to your child if you don’t have a fire extinguisher?”.

For that reason Schnurbach says fire extinguisher upstairs should go in the parents’ bedroom. It’s a recommendation people always heed once they understand it.

“No one says no,” she says. “You just don’t want to be that person.”

Same thing goes for a fire ladder. A portable one Schnurbach sells can be stowed away in a box under the bed for easy access, she says.

“The one thing people can do is be educated,” she says.

Tips on home safety for kids: online resources

Public Health Agency of Canada
A government of Canada website that provides home safety tips on everything from baby walkers, cribs, and safety gates to poison control, choking and fire safety.

SafeKids Canada
A national injury prevention program of The Hospital for Sick Children educates on kids’ safety issues, providing information on product safety, drowning prevention, scalds and burns and much more.

About this article:

By: Kelly Gadzala
Posted: Nov 11 2010 12:02 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto