As soon as your baby learns to crawl, remove breakables from furniture and rearrange the closets so that only safe, sturdy objects are near the floor. To protect a toddler from hazardous materials, have at least one high cabinet that you can lock. Put childproof latches, available at hardware stores, on other closet and cabinet doors. Remove interior door locks; if necessary, install a latch higher up.
Household cleaners, hair dyes, shoe polish, kerosene, and laundry products are just a few of the poisons around a house. Store them in high cabinets and put them back promptly after use. Keep all medicines, including vitamins, in childproof containers and in a locked medicine chest. Don’t leave aspirin or other medicines in your purse. Keep a phone number for a poison control center near your phone and have syrup of ipecac on hand in case it is needed to induce vomiting. After spraying your garden with insecticides, don’t permit children to play there for a day or two.
Burns and shocks
Keep matches and cigarette lighters out of reach. Put guards in front of radiators, wall heaters, and fireplaces. Use flame-retardant sleepwear. While cooking, turn pot handles toward the back of the stove or use back burners. Avoid hot-water burns by setting the water heater at 130F To prevent electric burns and shocks, plug electric outlets with plastic covers available from hardware stores. Use an extension cord only as a temporary connection. Lock up your power tools when not in use.
Keep all objects small enough to be swallowed away from young children; don’t give them toys with parts that might come loose or foods such as carrot or apple pieces or hard candies. Take care, too, with long cords. Plastic bags can suffocate a child; store them out of reach or shred or tie them in knots for disposal; never use one to cover a child’s mattress. Be careful of anything in which a child might become trapped, such as a trunk or an unused refrigerator; lock them when not in use, or remove the lock.
Bumps and bruises
Put bars or tight-fitting screens on windows or install latches that keep the windows from being opened more than a few inches. Put gates at the top and bottom of stairs, but avoid accordion types that could trap a child’s head. A safer gate is an adjustable wood frame with mesh.