Go ahead, pat yourself on the back. Buying a new home is one of the smartest safety decisions you can make for your child. Sure those vintage homes can be adorable, but the narrow stairs, cloth electrical wiring, lead pipes, lead-based paint, and asbestos? Not so much. Thankfully, you won’t have to deal with any of that drama in a new home!
New homes, like those in Stepping Stone, follow modern building codes that keep your family safe. After move-in, you may want to tailor your home further to keep the munchkins healthy and happy. First, let’s take a look in the kitchen, that pre-dinner playground where toddlers are tempted to cook up a bit of trouble.
1. Use cabinet latches and locks.
Ideally, you’re going to move those toxic, under-sink cleaning products somewhere high and out of reach. If not, then be super-vigilant with keeping the cabinets latched, as well as other cabinets housing breakables and heavies. Of course, it’s a smart idea to leave a few cabinets unlatched with child-friendly plastic measuring cups, spoons and nesting bowls to buy yourself some precious cooking time.
2. Keep the pet food bowls behind a baby gate.
A bowl of hard, crunchy pet food looks so inviting to a kiddo, but it can be a real choking hazard. If you can’t separate the pet food from the living areas, stand by as your pet eats, then immediately remove the bowl. (And if you have stairs, you’re definitely going to need another baby gate.)
3. Install stove knob covers and a stove guard.
Kids do what they see parents do—which can lead to twisting stove knobs and pulling down hot, bubbling pots of pasta water. Avoid that scary scenario with devices that make the stove completely inaccessible.
In the living room:
4. Edit your houseplant collection.
While you want your child to eat his greens, there are limits. Some plants look tasty to a little one, but many common houseplants are actually poisonous. Give those bad boys to your single friends, or those with older kids, and avoid indiscriminate noshing of the rest by keeping all plants high and out of reach.
5. Soften sharp edges.
Coffee tables, hearths, TV stands, and window ledges can be right at eye level for short stacks. Cushion all those edges with corner guards until kids get a little taller and steadier on their feet.
6. Choose kid-friendly window treatments.
Window blinds get a bad rap due to choking deaths caused by dangling cords. They’re not off-limits if you choose blinds that are cordless. Other options include roller or motorized shades, or wood or composite shutters.
In the bathroom:
7. Lower your water heater to 120 degrees.
This helps prevent busy little hands from getting burned when cranking up the faucet. Of course, you should always test the water temperature before placing your child in the tub, too. And install an anti-scald device to the end of the bath spout and sink faucet.
8. Install a toilet lock.
These smart devices serve many purposes. Little fingers don’t get smashed. No danger of accidental drowning. Prevention of icky, germy water play. And no flushing of toys down the toilet—common enough, as any plumber can attest.
First, see #1 regarding a latch on your medicine cabinet. Or if you opted for a cute bathroom mirror without a medicine cabinet, invest in a lockable medicine safe that can fit inside any cabinet or drawer.
And basically, everywhere in your home:
10. Cover your electrical outlets. Because inquiring minds want to know…if that thing makes the vacuum go, what will happen if I put this fork/finger/whatever in there? It happens. Outmaneuver your budding electrical engineer with these universal outlet covers, which slide shut when the outlet is not in use.