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Childhood Safety

The 7 Must-Have Items That Should Be on Your Childproofing Shopping List

Selecting childproofing products can be overwhelming. Because there are no standards for most childproofing products, our pros recommend you be very selective and research products thoroughly before purchasing.

This is what you should look for (and avoid) when shopping for the most common childproofing items.

1. Baby gates

Purchase hardware-mounted gates for your stairways. Gates can be used to block access to other dangerous areas. If you have any challenges with installing stairway gates, consider blocking access to the stairway by installing a gate in another location (e.g., hallway, doorway). 

Choose gates that are JPMA certified — they meet ASTM standards for baby gates. Avoid pet gates that don’t meet child safety standards. Per the standard, gates are designed for children from 6-24 months old, so follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use. 

Pressure-mounted gates are available for doorways but are not recommended for the top of stairways because they can be dislodged.

2. Cabinet & drawer latches

Install these devices in kitchens, bathrooms, and other useful areas of the home. Latches are designed to be deterrents but industrious toddlers might learn to defeat them as they grow and develop (they watch you). Magnetic latches with keys are available and are much harder for young children to unlatch without the key. 

Appliances latches are also available to prevent access to dishwashers, fridges, and stoves. From the beginning, teach children that cabinets are not for them by latching all the lower cabinets in your kitchen. Pots and pans are not toys — you cook on the top of the stove with them.

3. Furniture & TV restraints/straps

Tip-over hazards are often overlooked, and families may not see furniture or TV anchoring devices when shopping for furniture, TVs, or childproofing products. Make sure you add anchoring devices to your shopping list. Anchorit.gov is a great resource for additional information. 

Anchor furniture and TVs throughout your home, not just in the nursery. Also, furniture hazards come in all shapes and sizes, so even large pieces of furniture should be anchored to prevent injuries.

Purchase hearth and furniture guards to protect your little ones from falls. Hearth and fireplace gates are available to prevent access to the fireplace and other dangerous parts of the home (e.g., choking hazards, glass doors, burn hazards, pilot lights).

4. Locks

Toddlers will quickly learn by watching adults. Locks that are installed up high can help prevent access to danger zones (garages, exit doors, basements/stairs, etc.). Hardware stores offer great options that might not be available in the childproofing section. Consider emergency egress for adults with the installation. Finger guards are available to protect little fingers from injuries in doors. 

5. Outlet covers

Install outlet covers instead of small outlet caps that often can be removed by toddlers. Also, caps pose a challenge when adults forget to reinstall them after use. Skip cute or colorful outlet covers that will only draw your child’s attention to the outlet.

6. Toilet locks

Toddlers like water. To prevent your toddler from playing in the toilet and potentially drowning, install toilet locks.

7. Window guards/window stops

Install window guards or window stops (they limit the window from opening more than 3-4 inches) to prevent falls. Screens will not protect your little ones from falls.

There are many steps you can take to childproof your home without purchasing products. Start with a little reorganization. Remove chemicals from under the sink and place them in high locked cabinets. Donate dangerous furniture (e.g., glass coffee table). 

It might sound silly but this is one of the best tips for childproofing: get down on your hands and knees and see the world from a young child’s perspective. Plan ahead for growth – toddlers will be able to reach items on countertops sooner than most parents anticipate.

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