Being a parent seems to be an exercise in excessive worrying. I spent my entire pregnancy worrying about my baby's development, only realize that once my son was born the incessant worrying had only just begun. We baby proofed our home, buying stair gates way before he was capable of walking and outlet covers way before he could crawl. So before I knew it, a whole new host of normal household products that terrify me were a relentless thorn in my side. You guys, there's danger all around us.
Of course, it goes without saying (but I'm going to "say" it anyway) that you're first step should always be to put any harmful products — like, cleaners, bleach, and detergents — in a space away from little and curious hands, preferably up high or in a child proofed cupboard or drawer. I, personally, think the perfect time to start baby proofing your home is before your baby is mobile enough to get into any actual trouble. Of course, it's necessary to periodically reassess the safety of your home as your child becomes more able and active.
Toddlers, like mine, are particularly inventive when it comes to getting into trouble. We once caught my son inspecting the knives in the open dishwasher. I had gone to the bathroom (quickly, might I add) and with the door open, only to find he had dragged a dining room chair over to the baby gate separating the dining room and kitchen, scaled his way over into the out-of-bounds kitchen. Thankfully I got there just in time, but ugh, kid. I don't need a heart attack, thank you very much.
After a slew of incidents that sent young children to the emergency room, manufacturers of these brightly colored, fun to hold, squidgy laundry capsules started to put large parental warnings on their products.
It might seem obvious that laundry detergent, in whatever form, is dangerous for children, but it really only takes a moment for something tragic to happen.
Some dishwasher tablets have a center circle that can look like a button to small children, causing curious little hands to try and grab one. When you couple the design with the fact that many people store these tablets in a low cupboard next to the dishwasher, they can quickly become a potential hazard.
Batteries are an obvious choking hazard, given the fact that many of them are the same size and shape as a child's throat.
Button batteries, which can be found in a variety of household products (like calculators, remote controls, and alarm clocks) are a particular threat, as they can be swallowed easily without notice. Those batteries, once ingested, wreck havoc inside the child's body, causing significant tissue damage and even death.
Another reason to ban annoyingly noisy toys that require batteries, in my opinion.
Window blinds are the stuff of nightmares. I have cut mine as short as I possibly can, while still making them usable. I then installed devices to make them inaccessible to little hands.
The Parents For Window Blind Safety group produce a website filled with safety tips and advocacy news, calling for stronger safety standards around the use of these products.
Our son, like most toddlers, loves cell phones and remote controls. The kid practically came out of the womb requesting to "change the channel."
It's not just the obvious battery lurking inside that dreaded control that poses a problem, however. These products have many small parts that can easily become dislodged when banged against the floor, a popular baby/toddler pastime.
Bisphenol A, also known as BPA, is a man made chemical usually found in plastic water bottles. So, of course it's one of the main concerns of any parent who choose plastic water or milk bottles for their babies and young children. But there are other potentially harmful chemicals and phthalates that parents need to be on the lookout for, too.
Healthy Child Healthy World provides a guide on choosing safe plastics and on selecting alternatives.
Many cleaning products contain harmful chemicals that are not only dangerous for children to access, and possibly ingest, but can also be hazardous if they simply touch something that has been cleaned recently.
I use natural products to clean my home for this very reason, and obviously keep them way out of my little one's reach.
Obviously any responsible parent keeps their medications away from their children, but accidents can and do happen; especially when most medications look just like candy.
There's so much to worry about when you become a parent, but it truly is shocking to realize that so many potential dangers live in your home. However, with a little common sense and some necessary precautions you can ensure you keep the hazards to a minimum. In other words, you got this.