By the time baby No. 2 comes along, most moms and dads feel like bona fide childproofing experts.
Some things about babyproofing are easier the second time around. You’ve already got covers for all of your plugs and you know not to keep anything you’d like to see again on the bottom row of your bookshelves. What you might not be prepared for is how hard it is to keep two kids safe when they’re at vastly different developmental stages.
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To get some advice on how to navigate these challenges, SheKnows sat down with Jason and Angela Busse, who own and operate a Missouri-based childproofing business called Owie Eliminators. They are certified by the International Association for Child Safety (IAFCS), and they use their combined expertise in early childhood education, child safety and supervision, and carpentry to help parents eliminate household hazards. Here are some of their best tips for getting your household ready to welcome another child:
1. Eliminate “tip-over” hazards
You should’ve done this the first time around, but if you didn’t, you’re not alone. The Busses say tip-over hazards are the most overlooked dangers they see when childproofing. Once you have baby No. 2, there are twice as many little people around who can get hurt. The good news? It’s easy to remedy the problem. Any heavy furniture in the house — even the television — needs to be secured. “The safest scenario for televisions is to mount them to the wall with a proper mount, and they should always be mounted to a stud,” says Angela. “Top-heavy furniture like dressers can be secured to the wall with straps or other tethering devices.”
2. Keep chemicals and other dangerous items locked up
Your oldest child might know not to drink Windex, but it will take the baby a while to get there. Cabinet latches are cheap and effective, and you should use them until the youngest person in the house is developmentally able to understand the inherent risk of certain items. “Scissors, knives, medicine, cleaning supplies, and who knows how many choking hazards can be effectively put out of reach with a few easy-to-install latches,” says Angela.
3. Separate your kids’ toys
Toys that are perfectly safe for a toddler can present serious choking risks for a baby. Sort through your child’s toys and remove any small pieces or other items that might be hazardous for an infant. Make use of cabinet latches again and store the dangerous toys in a special cupboard or closet, or even put them in separate containers to be stored in the older child’s room.
4. Double check your baby gates
Baby gates are a great way to keep babies away from stairs and other dangerous areas, but you have to be careful because older kids might be able to climb them. Once that happens, says Angela, your gate will need to be replaced with a taller one or a gate your older child can open and close on their own (if they’re developmentally ready for that), or you’ll have to put a latch on a door or something else sturdy that can block off the area. It might not seem like a huge threat, but a baby gate accident can result in serious injury if a child gets into a room with dangerous objects or falls down the stairs.
5. Make sure babyproofing items aren’t a hazard to your older child
“Certain items used for an infant can become dangerous to a toddler,” say the Busses. Many a toddler can figure out how to remove a plug cover, for instance. When they do this, it not only presents a choking hazard for the toddler, but also leaves the outlet exposed and creates an electrocution hazard for a baby. Remedying the situation requires finding covers for the entire outlet, as opposed to just individual plug covers. Angela and Jason say this sort of constant updating is necessary as kids grow. “The most important thing to remember is that all children develop at different ages and speeds,” says Angela. “Reevaluation is necessary on a regular basis.”
6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
The IAFCS website has a search tool you can use to find professional childproofers in your area. Many of them — like Owie Eliminators — offer free advice in addition to their paid services and are more than willing to try to answer any questions you may have. Childproofing for your second kid can be challenging, but it’s not an obstacle you have to face alone.