You may not realize all of the potential dangers to children lurking throughout your home. When you have a baby on the way, it quickly becomes clear how many everyday items pose health and safety risks. The best way to help reduce the chance of an accident when you bring your child home is to thoroughly childproof your home.
As your child grows, you’ll probably realize their safety needs changes. The same is true for your insurance needs as a family. Follow these tips for childproofing your home for each stage of childhood and the important changes you may need to make to your home and auto insurance policies.
The best time to start childproofing your home for a new baby is before you head to the hospital. As you put the finishing touches on the nursery, remember to double check that you’ve installed and built furniture or electronics correctly according to the instructions. Your baby’s crib and any other baby furniture should follow the US Consumer Product Safety Commission safety standards. The crib should be free of pillows, bumpers, blankets and other soft surfaces to prevent suffocation.
Make sure that your baby monitors are at least three feet from your baby’s crib. Electrical wires, such as the wire for a lamp, should also be at least three feet away. To make bath time safer, adjust your water heater so the water temperature does not exceed 120° F. Even at a young age, infants have a reflex to bring their hands to their mouths. Go through your home and remove any small, loose items that can pose choking hazards.
When your child begins to roll over on their own, you can be sure that crawling is not far behind. Children who are old enough to crawl love to explore and have a tendency to examine items by putting them in their mouths. They are also prone to picking up anything they find and will grab onto most surfaces. Keep your crawling child safe by only giving them access to areas of your home that are completely childproofed.
Install baby gates to restrict access to the parts of your home that may be dangerous, such as stairways. Make sure your furniture is properly anchored to the wall and any furniture that may fall over is removed from the baby’s area. Side tables, for example, may not be sturdy enough to stand upright if a child attempts to pull themselves upright.
Go around your home and cover any electrical outlets that are lower than counter height using outlet covers that won’t become choking hazards. Cover the sharps edges or corners of furniture and cabinets. Move anything that could be dangerous, such as picture frames, to shelves or spaces at least four feet. You can also remove the hazard of broken glass or ceramics by removing breakables to storage until your child is older.
Toddlers are known for being very active and very curious. This means that your child is likely to find their way into trouble simply out of curiosity. Help reduce the chance of an accident by installing baby gates well before the child is walking to keep them out of off-limits areas. You will need to remind your child about safety often, as toddlers are not yet old enough to remember safety rules.
Childproof your home for your toddler starting from the exterior walls inward. Lock exterior doors even while you’re at home so your toddler cannot open a door and wander outside. Make sure all of your windows are latched and locked. Be mindful of where you place stools, chairs and other furniture that may be tempting to climb for a toddler. Don’t place furniture near railings or balconies.
As toddlers are able to stand and reach, you will want to avoid setting any sharp objects, hot plates or electronics near the edges of tables or counters. Create a safe place that’s away from the reach of your toddler for charging devices like phones. When setting the dinner table, always put hot pans or dishes in the center of the table or counter and never on a tablecloth that could be pulled by your toddler.
Around the ages of three to five, children are able to understand safety rules to a degree and have a better grasp of why an object might be dangerous. However, young children are still curious and often follow impulses. The most important part of childproofing for a young child is to double-check your existing locks, latches and safety measures to determine if your child can now overcome them.
Cabinet locks can be figured out quickly by a child that is a few years old. If you have dangerous items such as medicines or household cleaners in lower cabinets, move them to a higher cabinet and install another cabinet lock. Children this age should not be allowed to use the microwave or other small kitchen appliances by themselves. You will also want to continue adult supervision during bath time.
Take the time to teach your young child why you have safety rules in place and what objects in your home may be dangerous. You should also help them learn their full name, address and your phone number in case they are separated from you. Make a family evacuation plan and teach your child how to respond to smoke or other alarms. Practice your family escape route together.
Insurance Needs and Children
Once you bring a child into the world, many of your needs change. As you childproof your home to make it safe for your new family, consider the important changes you should make to your insurance policies. Your new child will likely encourage you to drive safer, reducing your risk of car accidents and possibly qualifying you for a safe driver discount.
If you rent your home, now is a good time to get a renters insurance policy if you don’t currently have one. As you accumulate new baby furniture, toys and other items for your child, the value of your belonging can quickly go up. Make sure your renters policy has enough coverage for your belongings. Your policy may also offer limited coverage for items stored in a storage unit which can be helpful if you store items while childproofing your home.
For parents who own their home, remember to update your homeowners policy after childproofing your home. You may need to increase your coverage limits to cover all of the new baby furniture and supplies. You will also want to add all of the baby’s items to your home inventory list so you know what you have in case of a claim.
Childproofing your home is just one step to take in securing the safety of your child. Keeping your insurance policies updated to meet the new needs of your family is an important part of the childproofing process.