Child-proof your home to en­sure safe place for Baby

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My baby boy is at the crawl­ing stage, so I want to make my house more child-safe, with gates at the stairs and room doors. What is the best type to get, and do you have any other tips for safety?

Peo­ple nat­u­rally think first of a child fall­ing down the stairs or get­ting from a safe room to a more dan­ger­ous one, such as a util­ity room or a work­shop. In­stalling spe­cial child-safe gates is an ex­cel­lent method to iso­late your child from the typ­i­cal dan­gers inside a home.

It might sound silly, but be­fore you make any safety changes, lit­eral- ly do a “crawl” through your home. Un­til you are ac­tu­ally down on the same level as your child is, it will be dif­fi­cult to lo­cate all the po­ten­tial haz­ards.

Reach out and touch ev­ery­thing you can. Also, con­sider tight spots that might be too small for your hand, but not for a child’s lit­tle fin­gers.

The two ba­sic types of gates are pres­sure gates and hard­ware-mounted ones. The pres­sure gates use an ex­pan­sion spring to hold them in the hall­way, stair­way or door open­ing. These are easy to move from area to area and to store away.

The draw­back to a pres­sure gate is that your child might be able to knock one down as he grows older. For this rea­son, it is not rec­om­mended to use a pres­sure gate at the top of stairs. Also, if you have a large pet, it may run into the gate and knock it down.

A hard­ware-mounted gate is more se­cure and can be used longer as your son grows. It is more dif­fi­cult to in­stall than a pres­sure gate, but is cer­tainly within the skill lim­its of most home­own­ers.

When se­lect­ing one, con­sider the type of latch mech­a­nism. It must be tricky enough to work so that your son can­not fig­ure it out — but not too dif­fi­cult to op­er­ate. A one-hand op­er­a­tion fea­ture is def­i­nitely a plus.

An­other safety con­cern is draw­ers and cab­i­net doors. It is sur­pris­ing how many com­monly used items in draw­ers can be haz­ardous in the hands of a child. There are many types of child­safe drawer/door locks avail­able, from in­ex­pen­sive plas­tic ones to metal and magnetic ones.

In­spect how dif­fi­cult it is for you to get the lock un­latched to open the drawer. It does not take a so­phis­ti­cated de­sign to keep a child out. If the lock is too com­pli­cated to op­er­ate, you might be­come frus­trated when you are in a hurry and not al­ways take the time to lock it. As with gates, look for one-hand op­er­a­tion.

Kitchen cab­i­nets and draw­ers are an ob­vi­ous lo­ca­tion for these locks be­cause of knives and clean­ing chem­i­cals. Spend the ex­tra money to in­stall the locks on the up­per cab­i­nets, too. Small chil­dren, es­pe­cially in­quis­i­tive lit­tle boys, can climb like mon­keys. They may be able to get to an up­per cab­i­net at an ear­lier age than you ex­pect.

In the kitchen, re­move small mag­nets from the re­frig­er­a­tor door. These are easy for a child to pull off, pop in his mouth — and choke on. In­stall cor­ner guards on the cor­ners and edges of cab­i­nets and the kitchen ta­ble. Bump­ing one with your shin is painful enough, but imag­ine if the edges are head-height for a child.

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