When you child proof your home, it’s not exactly the same as baby proofing. Rather if you have children, you need to constantly be looking at ways to keep their environment safe as they grow and gain the capacity to get into new things that may cause them harm. When you’ve got visiting kids, whether they are babies or children, you should also consider how to child proof your home to make sure your youngest visitors remain safe.
One rule of thumb is that most children can access anything babies can get into. It’s still important to make sure that any poisonous substances like cleaners, medicines or vitamins are kept well out of reach. If you keep cleaners in a low area that babies or kids can get to, you may want to buy some locks that make it harder to open these areas (like cabinets beneath the sink). However, unlike babies, some kids can be excellent at figuring out how to work these. It’s truly better to put anything potentially harmful out of reach of any babies or children by placing these things high up, possibly behind an inaccessible locked door.
Keep things like medicines under lock and key in a cabinet or in a special lock box. Consider storing cleaners in a locked cabinet or a high up shelf in a locked storage facility. If kids are visiting, be sure to let them know about any rooms they shouldn't enter, and follow this up by keeping doors to these rooms locked. Be explicit with parents on this matter too and ask them to help you child proof by taking a look around when they first show up with kids.
Even though we most think of babies as being vulnerable to small items they may mouth, mouthing behavior is not uncommon in kids. To successfully child proof, make sure electrical cords cannot be reached or chewed on, and that any small “chokeable” items are put well away. Jewelry or coins count as things that can potentially cause choking. If you have toxic plants, these should be in an area where children cannot go, and if children are visiting you may want to ask a friend to plant-sit your pretty but potentially deadly plants. As a rule when you child proof for a home with kids, stick to nontoxic plants.
Another common danger to children is alcohol. Make sure that any alcoholic beverages are kept out of reach of kids, again preferably behind lock and key. If you’re throwing a party, don’t keep beverages on low tables where children might reach and drink them. This advice additionally applies if you’re serving any types of hot beverages.
Small breakable items like picture frames, statues or clocks are also best placed high up out of the reach of curious children. When children visit you may want to put these away safely, and in the average home with kids, find safe display places for delicate things. If one room is dedicated to many breakable items, you may want to child proof it by using a baby gate when kids are around. Though older kids can climb these gates, if they’re watched carefully, you can usually get to them before they get over a gate. These gates are still an obstacle to most toddlers and preschoolers, especially if the gates are tall.
If you have pets that are not accustomed to interacting with young kids, be sure to address the issue by keeping them in another room or outside. Inform the children to steer clear of the pet to avoid any potentially dangerous confrontations.
Weapons, including knives and/or guns should be locked away out of reach of children. Guns should not be loaded, and ammunition should be stored in a different location from the weapons.
Stairways and decks continue to be of risk to older kids, as they are to babies. You may want to place protective netting on stairway or deck rails that have large spaces in them. Steep stairs should probably be protected by baby gates, and high decks without rails ought to be no kid zones. If you have a pool it should really be fenced with a high fence to avoid kid access.
You can child proof with the best intentions, but a home is still never totally safe for unsupervised kids. The best child proofing device you own is your ability to be vigilant. Children should not be unsupervised, and you should provide plenty of things for them to do, because bored children are much more likely to find ways to get into trouble. Parents visiting a home, even if assured it’s child-proofed, should always keep an eye on kids.