Disclaimer – I have a material and/or financial connection because I received a gift, sample of a product and/or compensation for consideration in preparing to write this content. All opinions stated within are my own.

Don’t be confused by the term baby proofing – it’s as much about toddlers who are tearing around the house as it is about crawlers.  And securing your staircases and kitchen by installing a baby safety gate is the number one consideration when preventing accidents in your home.  There are many different types of baby gates out there so be sure to learn which type is best in each location.

Hardware-mounted gates are the best and most commonly used.  They are the only gates that should be used at the top of the stairs. A gate at the top of a staircase is the most critical one that you will install and must be hardware mounted. It needs to be drilled and attached to both sides of the gate location. Here are a few things to look for:

  • A gate that’s easy to use with one-handed operation.
  • A safety mechanism that prevents it from opening out over the stairs and will only allow it to open toward you.
  • A gate that automatically locks when you shut it to reduce the chance of “user error.”
  • Some of these gates are self-latching, which means you will not have to turn around to close the gate. Simply swing the gate behind you until it hits the latch, and it will lock itself.

Gates installed at the top of the stairs should have a special safety bracket or mechanism that prevents them from opening out over the stairs. Most often, stairway gates are attached with the hinged side to the wall and the latch side to the post.

The pressure-mounted walk-through gate is an extremely popular style of gate because it can be installed in a few minutes without the use of special tools. As its name implies, it adjusts to the width of the opening to tighten against two solid wall surfaces. These gates should never be used at the top of the stairs. They are generally used in low traffic areas that aren’t often entered. While they are easy to install and relatively convenient to use, these gates do have drawbacks. Each time you walk through the gate, you will need to turn around and realign it to lock it. If you have a baby or packages in your arms, this may not be easy to do. All pressure-mounted gates will loosen over time, depending upon how frequently they are used, so they need to be checked often and adjusted as necessary. Also, the bar under the portion of the gate that opens to maintain the pressure can be a tripping hazard.

This was another one of those weeks where I almost could feel the earth shifting under my feet.  My 40’s have undoubtedly been a time of personal growth, acceptance and letting go.  This week however was probably the most emotional.

In the span of a week I:

  • Allowed myself to let go of a friendship in which we both had grown in separate ways,
  • Reconnected with a dear friend and his family and realized that some roots remain strong,
  • Experienced the heartbreak and anger of witnessing the destruction of a family relationship that was never really there,
  • Grieved over the next step in the decline of my father’s health,
  • Reached out to distant relatives to help create bonds for my children
  • Burst with pride at the next step in my children’s academic life yet continued to worry about the future for my intellectually disabled son.

familyblogAs an only child, “family” included close friends.  I’m fortunate to have people in my life who are as close as any brother or sister could ever be.  But I’ve also come to realize that some of those relationships don’t last.  It was a hard lesson to learn that sometimes you just need to let go and be grateful for the time you had.  I try so hard to cling to relationships.  Then there are those “blood relationships” that also, sadly need to be severed sometimes.   I believe that in all of these instances it takes a great deal of faith to know that the new path you are venturing down will be the right one.  That the future might be revealing itself in ways you never expected.

But then there are those incredible moments.  The ones that take your breath away.  The feeling of being enveloped in love by people from your childhood who you know – and know you – like no one else can.  It requires faith to believe that while these relationships might fade for awhile, the foundation is there and, at a moment’s notice, these guiding angels will be there to accept you, love you and help you heal.  And of course there are the true milestones in relationships.  Watching our children graduate and start a new chapter themselves.  My week was book-ended by each of my children graduating from their respective schools and moving up and helping my mother cope with the grief of looking at nursing homes for my father.  My mother has always been one of my closest friends.  Now I’m feeling that relationship evolve as my daughter and I begin forming a similar friendship.

Friendship/family – the lines seem to blur often.  In the end, though, it comes down to faith.  Faith that the right answers about relationships will be revealed.  Faith that we will endure the heartache that comes with aging, disease and the loss of a relationship.  And faith that the choices we make for ourselves and those we love and care for will be the right ones.

 

 

As a professional baby proofer and the owner of Safety Mom Solutions, I’ve visited thousands of homes in the Connecticut and New York area.  Our services start out with a detailed in-home safety evaluation that usually leaves parents with the “deer in the headlights” look.  Most of them are fairly confident when I walk in the door that they’ve caught every safety hazard.  Within a few moments, it’s pretty clear they haven’t.

Am I advocating becoming an overly neurotic parent who wraps her kid in bubble wrap and puts foam on every wall?  No (well, OK it might be fun to actually bounce off the walls..)  Kids need to learn consequences and the meaning of the word “no.” But that doesn’t mean that your house should be like the Fun House at the local amusement park with all sorts of dangers popping up.

So what are some of the top ones you can look for yourself?  Here’s a few:

–          Loose coins and medication on the nightstand – Everyone always looks around the nursery but think about how much time your toddler spends in your room.  Are they climbing in bed with you in the morning?  Then they have access to all sorts of items on your nightstand.

–          Scalding water from the bathtub – Do you know that the majority of burns occur because of hot water, not flames?  If you have access to your water heater turn it down to 110° F.  If you don’t, got to your local hardware store and purchase a scald protector which can be attached to your water faucet.

–          Topple over accidents – Heavy furniture and TVs falling over on children is more common than most parents realize.  Over 245 children were killed in the past ten years due to furniture tip overs.  Secure all furniture to walls with furniture straps or L Brackets and use heavy-duty Velcro to secure TVs into entertainment units

–          Poisoning from personal hygiene products – Parents often realize that cleaning products need to be kept away from children but they don’t consider toiletries such as mouthwash, hair gels and talcum powder.  All of these are toxic when ingested by a child.  Install locks on all bathroom cabinets as well as kitchen cabinets

–          Latex balloons – There have literally been hundreds of toys recalled over the past several years but one item that is the most dangerous is still sold – latex balloons.  In fact, latex balloons kill more children than any other toy when small pieces or a deflated balloon can cover a child’s esophagus or lodge in their throat.  Immediately dispose of any latex balloon when your child brings one home from a party.

As a family safety expert and owner of a baby proofing company, I’m constantly challenged as to whether parents are too neurotic about their child’s safety when they baby proof their home.  I got to thinking about this question even more this morning after reading an article in The New York Times about playground safety.  Some researchers in Norway contend that we’re making our playgrounds too safe.  They contend that safer playgrounds may stunt emotional development, leaving children with anxieties and fears that are ultimately worse than a broken bone.  It is their belief that risk-taking helps kids overcome their fears and avoid phobias in adulthood. 

OK, if we’re to go along with this logic, then should we also encourage our kids (and ourselves) to drag race, not wear seat belts and do 360’s on the highway?  Will this “risk-taking” behavior help us overcome our fear of being killed in a car crash? 

The researchers feel that playgrounds have become too tame for older kids and they will consider them boring with nothing to master. The problem is that playgrounds are for kids of all ages.  And, unfortunately, if we had more dangerous areas in the playground, the 2 and 3 year-old toddlers would be climbing up to the highest point because their babysitters, nannies and even moms are too busy talking to each other to appropriately supervise them. 

Different and safer playground equipment is now being made.  Kids can still get thrills but do they really need to risk third degree burns from metal slides and concussions from falling from monkey bars?  

Which brings me back to the initial point about baby proofing.  Just like safer playgrounds, baby proofing isn’t just for neurotic parents.  It’s for parents who want to eliminate serious and potentially life-threatening hazards.  We can’t keep our kids in a bubble and yes, they do need to explore and learn the meaning of the word “no.”  But we can eliminate those hazards that can cause serious harm.  There are ways to allow our children to explore and take risks in a safe manner.   Dangerous staircases, open windows and unsecured furniture don’t help our children overcome fear, they lead to injury and even death.  Ask any ER doctor their thoughts on this need for “risk-taking” and I’m sure you’ll hear a much different view than these researchers have.

Whether you’ve chosen to work from home or you’ve been laid off and have created a place to work as you job hunt, there are a host of electronics, papers and other items in this area that you need to protect from your toddler.

Beware of small items such as thumb tacks, staples and rubber bands that can all pose choking hazards or are sharp and could cause an injury.  Keep all of these in a supply box that can be locked and use push pins instead of thumb tacks which are less lkely to lay straight up if they fall on the ground.

Use wire ties to gather all cords from computer monitors, modems and other electronic devices and hide them if possible behind the furntiure.  Alternatively secure them to the wall with cable clips or fasteners.

Secure book shelves to the wall to prevent them from toppling over.  You can either use furniture straps or braces.

Set up a mini-office for your toddler away from your work area.  Get a small activity table with a box for crayons and papers so they can work alongside you.

Secure cord blinds to prevent a strangulation hazard.  You can either tie them up and out of the way or install cord blind cleats to wrap them up.

Over the weekend, a 2 year-old died after becoming entangled with an airconditioner cord and choking. The air conditioner was in a window six feet off the ground. It’s so easy to overlook the numerous cords and other strangulation hazards around the home. Here are a few to consider:

  • Oscillating fans
  • Laptop computers and external speakers
  • Baby monitors (keep them far away from the crib)
  • Blow dryers, flat irons or curling irons
  • Irons and steamers
  • Radio, TVs and other entertainment media

Over the past several years numerous window blinds and roman shades have been recalled due to strangulation hazards but there are any number of items around the house that we don’t think of. If an items is always used and stationary, secure the wires to the wall or a table leg. If it is a portable item, be sure that when it is not in use the cord is wound up and secured and the item is safely locked away.