It’s a rite of passage for all new parents – creeping around on the floor to look for hidden household hazards a newly-crawling baby could discover. What you may not realize is that once you’ve baby-proofed your home, you’ll wind up taking another look at the process once Baby hits the toddler years – and another with every new physical milestone she hurts for a while.
“Hey, that looks like fun . . .”
With Baby turning three in a few months, you’ve probably seen her gross motor development soar, with new running, climbing, and stair-walking skills. Her fine motor skills now shine, too, and make it easier to push, pull, grasp, turn, and hold items. At the same time, your toddler has never been more curious or adventuresome.
What this means for parents is that you’ll need to approach childproofing from the perspective of a stronger, more mobile toddler. In addition to keeping all babyproofing measures intact, you’ll need to ratchet up your efforts to accommodate these newfound skills.
Be on the lookout for household items your stronger toddler can tip over
- Make sure heavy objects – bookcases, dressers, entertainment centers, etc. – are firmly attached to walls so a curious toddler can’t pull them over. Depending on where they are located, TVs should be attached to walls or furniture.
- Consider temporarily storing lighter-weight items – from stools to accent tables – that your toddler can knock over or drag into harm’s way.
Know how much toddlers love to climb – and how it can lead to trouble
- Block toddler access to tables (which often have light fixtures or ceiling fans above them) and counters (which lead to stoves, sinks, knife blocks, etc.).
- Take a look at your home’s windows, and toddler-proof accordingly. A number of techniques exist, including window locks, window guards, or devices to limit how much they can be opened. Make sure cord-free blinds or shades are used.
- Securely lock upper cabinets you previously thought were out of reach to your crawling baby. A climbing toddler can now reach high-up cabinets containing medicines, liquor, crystal, and more.
Watch out for water dangers your mobile toddler may find, inside and out
- Remain with toddlers during the entirety of bath time, no matter what. Always drain the tub immediately.
- Make sure all bathroom doors are closed and locked – even ones that aren’t often used – so toddlers don’t play in toilets.
- Don’t soak dishes or laundry in sinks where toddlers can climb up and get involved.
- Backyard pools and hot tubs should have secure covers that lock and be fenced according to regulations. If your backyard includes other water features put fences around them if possible, and securely block toddler access to the area.
Toddlers will discover everything, so look for the unexpected
- Keep family members’ and visitors’ briefcases or purses out of reach of toddlers as they can contain potentially harmful items.
- Button batteries (used in remotes, toys, and more) are highly dangerous and potentially lethal when swallowed, or can cause serious injury when inserted into ears or nostrils. Secure battery compartments with strong tape, and lock up spare batteries.
As Baby grows, you can start to talk to her about household dangers and keeping themselves safe, but at this age, the best way to keep her out of harm’s way is to make sure she can’t get her hands on safety hazards.
- “Developmental Milestones: 3 to 4 Year Olds.” Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5 HealthyChildren.org. American Academy of Pediatrics. 11/21/15. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/toddler/Pages/Developmental-Milestones-3-to-4-Years-Old.aspx
- “Important Milestones: Your Child by Three Years.” CDC.gov. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 8/16/16. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones/milestones-3yr.html
- “Toddlers Exploring the World.” Dealing with Toddlers. Extention.illinois.edu. University of Illinois Extension. https://extension.illinois.edu/toddlers/exploring.cfm
- Kathleen Berchelmann M.D. “Preventing Furniture and TV Tip-Overs.” HealthyChildren.org. American Academy of Pediatrics. 12/5/16. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-home/Pages/Preventing-Furniture-and-TV-Tip-Overs.aspx
- “Water Hazards for Young Children.” TIPP: The Injury Prevention Program. HealthyChildren.org. American Academy of Pediatrics. 11/21/15. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-home/Pages/Home-Water-Hazards-for-Young-Children.aspx
- “Childproofing Your Home.” Childproofing Your Home. HealthyChildren.org. American Academy of Pediatrics. 11/21/15. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-home/Pages/Childproofing-Your-Home.aspx
- “Button Battery Injuries in Children: A Growing Risk.” Section on Otolaryngology, Head, ＆ Neck Surgery. HealthyChildren.org. American Academy of Pediatrics. 4/26/13. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-home/Pages/Button-Battery-Injuries-in-Children-A-Growing-Risk.aspx
- “How to Toddler Proof Your Home: A Room by Room Guide.” AskDrSears.com. https://www.askdrsears.com/topics/parenting/child-rearing-and-development/how-toddler-proof-your-home-room-room-guide