When you find out a baby’s coming into your home, everything looks different — that beautiful living room with its mahogany coffee table, floating staircase and low oak shelves is now an obstacle course of hazards for the 2-foot-tall creature who’s about to invade your space.
David Drutz wants to help you make that room, and all the others in your home, safe.
His store, Kiddie Proofers on Dufferin St. in North York, holds more than 800 products — from cabinet locks to stair gates — for 15 different childproofing areas.
Drutz says a growing demand for baby-proofing has come with the rise of households in which both parents work and as technology allows them to bring work home, making it a possible distraction.
“We live in a society of instant notifications,” Drutz said of the pressure to respond to every incoming message.
Baby-proofing should always be top of mind, but more so when Ikea recalled more than 29 million of its Malm dressers — and similar styles to it — in the U.S. and Canada in the wake of six child deaths that were a result of the dressers toppling over.
We asked Drutz and fellow child safety expert Carolyn Sinclair, who owns Fifty-Seven, a family centre on Bloor St. W. offering courses relating to parenting and child safety, for tips on baby-proofing the home.
As general guidelines for any room, Drutz says tethering furniture that’s liable to tumble is a must. That includes, among others, dressers and flat screen TVs, which you can mount, tie down or attach to the wall with special straps.
The danger with drawers is called the “waterfall effect,” says Drutz, where children climb on and open them, causing the furniture to fall on them.
He suggests taking these precautions once your child is about to start crawling. A telltale sign of that is when babies start doing an action resembling a push-up, Drutz says.
Despite the risk large furniture presents, Drutz says the “number one injury” for children in the home is choking — on almost anything. If it’s small and can fit in your child’s mouth, “put it away.”
Sinclair, who is also a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) instructor, agrees and offers some examples: Lego, small cars whose wheels can come off, small dolls, and craft supplies such as googly eyes, foam stickers and hard Play-Doh.
“The stuff that seems like not a big deal when it falls on the floor but that kids can choke on,” explains Sinclair.
Certain types of food — even cut small — can be a choking risk. Apples and carrots, for example, are hard for infants under 6 months.
“Water safety is a big thing at this time of year,” Sinclair adds. “Empty kiddie pools at night are one … and it’s always important to have life jackets on around the water and pools.”
The necessities of child proofing, Drutz and Sinclair say, are cabinet latches, locks or other proofing on doors that lead to rooms where there are hazards, and stair gates.
Drutz notes there are unnecessary items in the home safety world, such as latches to keep toilet bowls closed. “For a kid to drown … that’s not a split second thing,” he says, adding a child shouldn’t be alone that long.
He says it costs about $1,500 to have your entire home childproofed. His company offers a checklist of areas to be mindful of, including plants that could be harmful.
Sinclair cautions against going overboard on baby-proofing as it may lead to a false sense of security.
“It’s important that parents know that we need to be the ones taking care of them, not some item,” she says.
Trouble spots in the home
When it comes to keeping your child safe, there’s a lot to think about. Child safety experts Carolyn Sinclair and David Drutz break down a handful of items to consider.
Coffee tables: Drutz suggests foam stickers for sharp corners as the height of a coffee table is often around the same as a toddler’s head. “A sharp heavy corner on a marble table, cover it. It’s something that will do some major damage.” He says a good measure for whether something should be proofed is “if a parent walks by it and goes, ‘Ouch, that bothers me,’ put something on it.”
Electric outlets: Cover them. Newly standardized outlets are meant to be tamper proof, but if two objects are stuck in them at once, an electric current can pass, says Drutz. There are outlet covers you can slide over them.
Door stops: Specifically, the coil ones can be dangerous, as the plastic tip can easily fall off and become a choking risk. Plus, the tip of the coil, once unprotected, is sharp. Drutz suggests replacing them with small, plastic rod-like doorstops.
Cabinets: Sinclair and Drutz advise keeping chemicals, cleaning products, medications and batteries out of reach or to lock cabinets that contain them. At Kiddie Proofers, Drutz and his team have coined it the “up-down rule:” if your towels are on the top shelf and the cleaning products at the bottom, switch them. “The best thing for child safety is put it away,” Drutz says.
Water: Sinks, bathtubs and wet floors can be slippery. Drutz advises an anti-slip bathtub solution and both he and Sinclair note how important it is to keep life-jackets on children around water at all times and to empty “kiddie pools” when they’re not in use.
Stairs: Gates should be installed — properly — at the top and bottom of stairs, the experts say. “The bottom keeps the kids off the stairs until they’re 2 (and) because they don’t understand turning around, when they get to the top, that’s when accidents happen,” Drutz says.
This article originally appeared on https://www.thestar.com/life/2016/07/10/how-to-babyproof-your-home.html.