It is not easy being a parent for the first time. Along with the indescribable joy, there is the responsibility for providing, not only the basic needs, but also making sure your baby is safe in the home.
Before the birth of my son, I actually got on my hands and knees and crawled around the house to get a perspective of what a baby sees. I found a button, a dime, a toothpick, the wall sockets demanding that curiosity be satisfied by poking something in them to see what would fit, and numerous little things just beckoning to be put in a baby’s mouth. When my baby was old enough to walk, my eyes were constantly aware of where he was. We didn’t have safety gates or things to keep the doors and windows from opening too far, outlet plugs, padding to put around the fireplace hearth or furniture, gates to separate child and pets, or window guards. We made our home as safe as possible, and most of it was done just by being aware of what the baby was doing and keeping a watchful eye at all times. There are so many tools today that help to ‘child proof’ your home that we did not have.
To make your home safe for your baby, and piece of mind for yourself, there are a number of things you can do to make a happy, safe, environment for your child to play and grow up in without it feeling like a fortress. The rule of thumb is that if anything is small enough to fit through a toilet paper tube, it is not safe for your children. Children explore by putting everything in their mouths. Peruse the rooms in your home for anything on the floor that could cause your child to choke if put in the mouth. Never – ever let the child have access to balloons. There have been deaths from children swallowing balloons. In my own life, a good friend of mine lost his brother when he gave him a balloon to play with.
Use safety gates around stairs, and any opening that leads to outside or any undesirable part of the house, especially the pool area. Use safety belts on changing tables, and high chairs, never leaving a child by him/herself on beds, furniture. If you have matches, cleaners, poisons or medications in or around your home, keep them in a locked cabinet and out of sight.
The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends that you keep cribs away from electric cords, drapes and curtain cords, and never leave your child alone in the bathtub – not even for a second! In one year alone, there were 3,582 deaths from unintentional drowning either in bathtubs, pools, buckets (believe it or not, babies or a small child can drown in less than two inches of water), or toilets (make sure you put a toilet lock in place). Check all toys and make sure they are safe, and keep all houseplants out of baby’s reach.
Over two million children a year are hurt in home-related injuries. Before the baby arrives, do some detective work around your home and prepare for the arrival of your life-changing bundle of joy. But, of course the best protection is constant supervision and knowing where and what your child is doing at all times. And when your child becomes a teenager, you will already be prepared for this next stage of life! Always know where and what your children are up to. Then, as they grow up and have families of their own, they will also be responsible parents, just as their parents have been.