What a Childproofing Expert Will Do For You

Your home: You know it well, but no one knows it better than your baby will. Your curious little one will discover, probe, and test every nook and cranny. Even if you’ve read the books, gotten advice from everyone you know, and then taken all the precautions you can think of, dangers lurk below eye level. How do you make sure everything is safe and sound? Some parents seek the help of an expert.

Hire a professional

That’s what Laura Carey of Naperville, Illinois, did when her 8-month-old daughter Lena started exploring. “Being first-time parents, we decided to hire a childproofer,” says Carey. “Instead of trying to figure it out ourselves we brought in someone with experience.”

Carey’s childproofer came in, surveyed her home, and made many changes. He anchored down such pieces of furniture as a curio cabinet and a console table. He childproofed bathroom doors by adding a dual lock so that Lena couldn’t lock herself inside. He installed brackets next to windows to keep shade cords out of Lena’s reach. And he installed gates and anchored them to the wall so she couldn’t push them down.

Donna Mermel of Buffalo Grove, Illinois, a franchise owner of the childproofing company Safety Matters, says that lack of experience is a big reason for parents to hire a professional: “Many first-time parents have no idea what a mobile baby is capable of getting into.”

“Childproofers will usually have access to safety items that you can’t find at the store,” says Vicki Lansky, author of Baby Proofing Basics. “They scour the market for the best socket protectors and cabinet locks, whereas many retailers carry only one brand or one size.”

Some childproofers charge for an inspection, but many offer a free consultation and make a profit only by selling suggested safety items or installing them for you. Lansky says childproofers often know which types of safety equipment work best in particular situations — and they’re fast.”They can get your house babyproofed faster than you could do it yourself,” she says.

What do the experts tend to find? Here are common danger zones.
Railings

Children can get their heads caught in railings that are set too wide. According to modern building codes, railings should be no more than 3½ inches apart. Sometimes, with decorative railings, the base of the railing is to code, but toward the top — because of the decorative shape — the spaces between the railings fatten to 4½ inches or wider. If this is the case with your railing, you may want to install Plexiglas, netting, or another temporary barrier over the bars.

Cleansers

“Ninety-nine percent of the homes I visit have poisonous chemicals under the sink,” says Arvey Levinsohn of A & H Childproofers in Vernon Hills, Illinois. “I suggest parents put cleansers in a high cabinet where children can’t get at them.” Levinsohn recommends that you lock the area under the sink even after moving the chemicals because the cabinet floor can be saturated with chemicals from years of storage. “All a child has to do is put a wet hand on the base to reactivate the poison,” says Levinsohn.
Outlets

“I don’t recommend outlet plugs,” says Leslie Stone, founder of Safety Matters and author of The Safe and Sound Child. “They are mouth-sized and can end up choking a little one.” Stone suggests removing existing outlet plates and replacing them with safety plates that automatically cover the outlet when the plug is removed.
Toilet locks

Install toilet locks. “Children are fascinated by water and because they’re top heavy, they are apt to fall in if they reach down inside,” says Stone.
Salt

“Keep salt out of your child’s reach,” says Cindy Wolf, author of On The Safe Side: Your Complete Reference to Childproofing for Infants and Toddlers, a do-it-yourself inspection book. “Just a tablespoon and a half of salt can be fatal to a child 25 pounds or less.”
Emergency numbers

Make sure you keep emergency numbers by every phone in the house, and include after-hours numbers for late-night emergencies.
Discovery zone

Whether you turn to an expert or not, childproofing will transform your home from a danger zone to a discovery zone. And knowing it’s safe for your baby to explore makes every parent’s job a lot easier.

Reviewed by the BabyCenter Medical Advisory Board

No comments yet »

Your comment