Babies reach, grasp, roll, sit, and eventually crawl, pull up, "cruise" along furniture,
and walk. At many stages in the first 2 years, they're able to move around, tumble
over, and get into things in one way or another. And toddlers will try to climb but may
not have the coordination to react to certain dangers. They'll pull themselves up
using table legs; they'll use bureaus and dressers as jungle gyms; they'll reach for
whatever they can see.
So the potential for a dangerous fall or a tumble into a sharp edge can happen
in nearly every area of your home.
Here are ways to help prevent kids from getting hurt in your home:
Don't use a walker
for an infant or toddler. More than 3,000 walker-related injuries a year are treated
in U.S. hospital emergency rooms. Babies in walkers can fall over objects; roll into
hot stoves, pools, and heaters; and roll down stairs. Walkers may give a baby the
momentum needed to break through a gate (sometimes with stairs on the other side).
Instead of a walker, consider an activity saucer that doesn't move.
Don't rely on window screens to keep kids from falling out of windows.
Open windows from the top or use window guards to prevent your child from falling
through screens or open windows (kids can fall from windows opened as little as 5
inches, or 12.7 centimeters). Make sure window guards are childproof but easy for
adults to open in case of fire.
Move chairs, cribs, beds, and other furniture away from windows to prevent children
from climbing onto sills.
Never leave a child alone around stairs — even those that are gated. Babies
can climb up the gate at the top of the steps and fall from an even greater height.
Install a safety gate at the door of your child's room to prevent the baby from reaching
the top of the stairs.
Keep stairways clear of toys, shoes, loose carpeting, etc.
Place a guard on banisters and railings if your child can fit through the rails.
Install hardware-mounted safety gates at the top and bottom of every stairway
(pressure-mounted gates aren't as secure).
Avoid accordion gates, which can trap a child's head.
Teach your toddler how to go down stairs backward — your child's only example
is you going down forward.
Around Your Home
Don't keep loose rugs on the floor.
Never put babies in child safety seats, infant seats, or bouncer seats on a countertop
or on top of furniture. The force of the baby's movements could propel the seat over
the side and cause serious injuries.
Make sure all pieces of furniture a child might climb on — tables, bureaus,
cabinets, TV stands, etc. — are sturdy and won't fall over. Be particularly
careful of top-heavy pieces like overloaded bookshelves, tall dressers, or entertainment
centers that can fall on your child. You can also buy "L" brackets to attach furniture
to walls to prevent your child from climbing on furniture and having it topple over.
Attach protective padding or other specially designed covers to corners of coffee
tables, furniture, fireplace hearths, and countertops with sharp edges.
Clean up any spills around the home right away.
Apply nonskid strips to the bottoms of bathtubs.
Cribs, Beds, and Changing Tables
Never leave a baby unattended on a changing
table or bed. If you get a phone call while you have your baby on the changing
table, hold your baby while you answer the call or check your phone later. If you
must leave for a moment, put the baby in a playpen or crib.
Use changing tables with 2-inch (5-centimeter) guardrails.
Always secure and use safety belts on changing tables, as well as on strollers,
carriages, and highchairs. Be sure to strap a small child securely into the seat of
a store shopping cart.
Crib bumpers are not recommended because of the risk of a baby getting stuck or
suffocating. Don't put a child under age 6 on the top bunk of a bunk bed. For older
kids, attach guardrails to the side of the top bunk.
Never allow a child to play on a trampoline, even with adult supervision.
Be sure outdoor playground
equipment is safe, with no loose parts or rust.
Make sure playground surfaces are soft enough to absorb the shock of falls. Good
surface materials include sand and wood chips; avoid playgrounds with concrete and
Make sure sidewalks and outdoor steps are clear of toys, objects, and anything
blocking a clear path. Repair any cracks or missing pieces in walkways.
If your child has started to ride a bike,
make sure he or she wears a helmet and is well-versed in bicycle safety and signals.
Head injuries are far too common in this age group, so enforce your helmet rule.
Whether you're expecting a baby or already have a child, it's a good idea to: