You may have babyproofed your house in preparation for a crawling baby, but once a child starts to walk, it’s not long before that toddler hits the ground running, literally. Here’s how to toddler-proof — because your house needs more than just gates and safety latches now.
Your toddler is tall, fast and super-interested in the new things she can see and reach. A whole new world has suddenly opened up to her. She’s no longer relegated to exploring what’s on the carpet or under the couch. We’re talking countertops, desks and, heaven forbid, stovetops. Get ready to batten down the hatches!
Intelligence vs. reason
You’re now dealing with a child who can climb onto furniture, undo locks, reach things on counters and who seems to have made it his job to defy you at every opportunity. So how feasible is it to toddler-proof?
“Don’t mistake your toddler’s ability to master the iPhone with the ability to comprehend potential dangers,” says Michele Spahr, babyproofing and child safety expert, aka The Safety Freak. In other words, “No need to freak out. Childproofing is still possible and is essential to injury prevention.”
You can’t lock ‘em up
If you haven’t already installed latches on your cupboards, now really isn’t the time to bother. “Your toddler will have these mastered in no time,” says Spahr. “Move chemicals and medications to a high, out-of-reach location or use a safety box to lock them up.” However, if finding an out-of-bounds location for your hazardous substances isn’t realistic, the Kidco Magnetic Lock can be an effective alternative.
Deterring the mountain climber
If your toddler is a budding adrenaline junkie, it’s likely he’s attempting to scale every piece of furniture within eyesight, including the baby gates. But the strength and weight of a resourceful toddler is a disaster waiting to happen. “Strap all furniture and TVs to the wall to avoid a tipping hazard,” advises Spahr.
And if your child is obsessed with the baby gates, “It may be time to remove them,” she adds. “Be certain you have handrails on both sides of stairways and proper tread to prevent slipping.”
While it’s nice to know that putting your child in the crib means they’re contained to one area for the night (even if they aren’t sleeping the entire time), there are new worries for parents of toddlers. “Once the toddler is 35 inches tall (usually around 2 years old), they need to be moved out of their crib and into their toddler bed,” says Joyce Davis, president of Keeping Babies Safe. “At this height, the baby can injure himself by climbing out of the crib and falling to the floor.”
Potty training precautions
Bathrooms are a veritable landmine in and of themselves with possibilities for drowning, poisoning and burning. However, “Installing door and toilet locks will be no help to your potty training toddler,” reminds Spahr. “Instead, remove all chemicals and medications, turn your water heater to 120 degrees to prevent scalding and be mindful of your child’s access to the bathtub.”
Invest in extra eyeballs
With your babyproofing items in place, you may have become complacent about being alert 100 percent of the time, but there’s no way to toddlerproof a couch or recliner (short of removing all furniture from your house). Ultimately, your child has to be allowed the freedom to explore and learn (unless you pride yourself on being a helicopter parent). You can still designate some rooms as off-limits, and even cordon them off with a top door lock.