Safety tips for crawling babies
Once your baby learns to crawl, exploring his surroundings isn’t far behind. To protect your curious crawler as he navigates his way through the house, be sure to take steps to make your home a safe environment. While there is no substitute for active supervision, using injury-prevention products can provide an extra layer of protection and added peace of mind.
“As the primary provider for children’s health needs in this area, St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital knows firsthand how devastating injuries can be, as well as how easily they can be prevented with some simple safety measures,” says Child Advocate Rebecca Kynes.
According to Kynes, the best approach to babyproofing the home is to list potential dangers in each room then take steps to eliminate them.
In the kitchen, potential risks include burns, cuts from sharp utensils, poisoning from common household chemicals and choking hazards. To help eliminate these dangers:
- Cook with pots and pans on back burners and turn handles away from the front of the stove.
- Use burner and stove child-safety locks.
- Place hot foods and liquids on the center of the table.
- Lock up all medicines and toxic substances.
- Store sharp knives where they cannot be reached or in a drawer with child-safety locks on it.
- Keep the fire extinguisher handy and in good working order.
- Always supervise young children in the kitchen and around electrical appliances and outlets.
- Prominently post emergency phone numbers.
Hazards in the bathroom include drowning, scalds, falls and poisoning. To avoid these injuries, be sure to:
- Set your hot water thermostat no hotter than 120 degrees F.
- Lock medicines and cleaning supplies away, even those in child-resistant packaging.
- Never leave young children unattended in the bathtub, even for a moment.
“Small children can drown in an inch of water and within a few moments,” Kynes warns. Once bath time is over, immediately drain the tub. Keep toilet lids closed, use toilet seat locks and be sure to keep the bathroom door closed.
Potential threats in the bedroom include strangulation, suffocation, choking and falls. To reduce these risks:
- Remove blind and drapery cords.
- Make sure all crib-railing slats are secure and no more than 2-3/8 inches apart — the size of a soda can — to avoid accidental strangulation.
- Remove all toys and stuffed animals from crib.
“In any room of the house, toys can become dangerous if misused or if they fall into the hands of children who are too young to play with them,” adds Kynes. Toys with small removable parts, which pose a choking hazard, are a definite no-no for toddlers. Use a small parts tester or the cardboard tube from a roll of toilet paper to identify choking hazards. Small children should not play with anything that can fit into one of these cylinders.
Around the house
Since toddlers are still developing mobility and coordination, falls pose a significant risk. Be sure to:
- Secure TVs and furniture, such as bookcases and entertainment centers, to the wall with anchor straps.
- Tie up loose electrical cords and cover unused plugs.
- Install safety gates at tops and bottoms of stairways and hold toddlers’ hands when climbing up and down stairs.
- Install door and cabinet locks.
- Cushion sharp furniture edges.
- Install barriers around fireplaces.
- Keep matches, gasoline, lighters and all other flammable materials locked away and out of reach.
- Install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms on every level of your home.
St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital’s Safety Store features low-cost injury-prevention products. The store, staffed by trained child advocates, is open Monday through Friday. Call 813-443-2064 or visit www.stjosephschildrens.com to learn more.