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The new parents' guide to babyproofing

Posted on Nov. 20, 2014 ( comments)
Babyproofing? Don't forget the outlet covers!
Some milestones creep up on new parents.

We're talking about babyproofing. As your baby grows, so does your need for protecting your children from potential hazards in the home. With so many things to think about—outlet covers, cabinet locks, baby gates, toilets — it's easy to feel overwhelmed before you even start.

We sat down with Erin Summa, Health Educator at the Mary Bridge Center for Childhood Safety, to help guide parents through the process of babyproofing.

MultiCare Vitals: Where do new parents start?

Erin Summa: Start by dropping down to your child’s level — so you can see what they see —and remove potential hazards. Another good first step is to cover up all accessible electrical outlets. Then install cabinet door locks on kitchen or bathroom cabinets and drawers, as well as toilets.

MultiCare Vitals: What should parents look for after outlets and cabinets are secure?

Erin Summa: Choking and strangulation hazards. Infants and toddlers love to put things in their mouths, so clear their play area of small, dangerous items. Rule of thumb: if it fits inside a cardboard toilet paper roll, it is a choking hazard. 

Ensure all cords, electrical and otherwise, are out of reach. If your window coverings have looped pull cords, for example, cut the loops or tie them out of reach. I always recommend parents learn CPR and choking rescue. 

MultiCare Vitals: Safe sleep is important, too. Can you offer advice for babyproofing the baby's bed?

Erin Summa: Use a crib or bassinet that meets current (2011) federal safety standards for naps and nighttime. Add a firm, snug-fitting mattress and a tightly fitted sheet — and that's it. Keep soft items out of the crib — no bumpers, pillows, loose blankets or toys because these things introduce suffocation risks. Choose wearable blankets, like sleep sacks, to keep baby safe and warm.

MultiCare Vitals: What other things can parents do to prepare for their mobile child around the house?

Erin Summa: Children love to climb, so secure tall and/or heavy furniture (over 30" tall) to the walls with brackets or wall straps. Secure flat-screen TVs to the wall. Install safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs. To prevent window falls, install window locks/guards and keep furniture away from windows.

MultiCare Vitals: How can parents make sure baby gear, such as high chairs, is safe?

Erin Summa: When using high chairs, always use the safety strap because the tray alone will not keep them from falling. Never place infant car seats on elevated surfaces or on shopping carts—these types of falls cause nearly 10,000 emergency room visits every year. Choose stationary entertainers over walkers with wheels to keep baby from scooting toward stairs, hot drinks or other hazards.

MultiCare Vitals: Children are curious creatures. How can we keep them safe and still allow them to explore?

Erin Summa: Supervision is the first line of defense in preventing injuries. Keep a close eye on your curious baby. Making your home baby friendly means you are minimizing potential hazards, but also creating safe opportunities for them to explore their world. For example, consider keeping a low cabinet stocked only with items that the child is allowed to play with, like plastic Tupperware-style containers.

MultiCare Vitals: Is there anything else parents should know?

Erin Summa: Parents are not alone on their quest to keep their children safe. We want to keep our community safe. Parents can always call our Tacoma office at 253-403-1234. Our website is another great resource for our community.
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