Baby on the way? Get your home prepared
While it might not be as fun as shopping for baby clothes and furniture, childproofing your home should be part of every expectant parent’s to-do-list. And there are some areas you’ll want to address well before your smallest housemate can explore and exploit common home hazards on her own. Here are some things you should mark off the childproofing checklist before your baby comes home.
8 General Safety tips to childproof your home
Before your little one comes home, take these simple steps to make your home the safest environment possible.
- Install carbon monoxide detectors and check batteries twice a year. This piece of safety equipment is especially important for homes that have an attached garage or use oil or gas for heating.
Make sure you purchase a model that accounts for any occupant’s disability. For example, manufacturers make detectors specifically designed to alert people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
- Install and maintain functional smoke detectors. Test them monthly and change batteries at least once a year for models that require regular batteries.
Increasingly, newer use smoke detectors are hardwired into a household electrical circuit and use batteries for backup power. Those models may need batteries less often, but should still be tested regularly.
- Explore options for adaptive products parents with disabilities might need to care for a baby safely. There are assistive devices to help people with disabilities carry and transfer children and adapted changing tables, to name just a few examples.
Review safety suggestions and product recalls before buying baby gear or furniture for the nursery.
- Keep a fire extinguisher on hand and have a fire escape plan in place. That emergency evacuation plan should also account for any disabilities.
- Put together a first-aid kit for babies and take an infant CPR class. If you have a disability, discuss any concerns and issues with a CPR instructor beforehand.
- If your home has lead paint that is peeling or flaking, hire a certified Lead-Safe professional to seal or remove it.
- Make sure your water heater is set no higher than 120℉ to minimize the risk of accidental burns while bathing the baby.
- Anchor heavy furniture that could tip over, such as shelves, dressers and refrigerators, to the wall or floor. You can purchase furniture safety straps specifically designed for this purpose online or at many major retail stores.
You should also make sure mirrors, paintings, and any other wall-mounted items are securely attached to the wall with mounting brackets or security hangers, according to Redfin. This hardware is available at just about any major home improvement store.
Asking for Assistance
Preparing your home and your life for having a child may seem overwhelming at times, but you can take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone. Research shows there were 4.1 million parents with disabilities in the United States in 2014, or around 6.2 percent of parents with children under 18. And many agencies provide services specifically designed to assist prospective and expectant parents with disabilities plan for their family’s future.
Services could include visits to evaluate areas of your home for safety purposes, lending out adaptive child care equipment for expectant parents to try before they buy, suggesting best practices for successfully performing common child care tasks with a disability, and performing follow-up visits as a child grows. Advocacy agencies such as Through the Looking Glass are a good place to start when seeking such support.
There will be other safety strategies and childproofing considerations once your baby is on the move, but this checklist gives expectant parents a strong start toward creating a child-friendly home environment that will be safer for all its residents.
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