Because your child learns by trying and doing, kids are always exploring their world. This is essential for brain development, so don’t discourage your child from trying new things. But, you’ll want to make sure your child’s environment is as safe as possible.
As soon as your child can wiggle off a blanket, start securing your home. Make sure your house is ready for little explorers.
- Use outlet covers and safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs.
- If you choose to have guns in your home, make sure they are locked out of a child’s sight and reach. Store ammunition separately.
- Store all chemicals and medication out of sight and reach of children, ideally in a cupboard with a lock.
- Lead can be found in older paint and toys manufactured outside of the United States. Long-term exposure to lead can cause serious health problems and affect your child’s developing brain. If you’re worried about lead exposure, talk to your doctor about testing.
- Ensure that items you use for baby care are free from recalls, when a problem has been discovered with a specific product. You can search for recalls & safety warnings for baby and children’s items and sign up for email or phone warnings on specific products.
- Make sure you have a working smoke alarm and carbon monoxide alarm on every level of your home.
- Create a plan for emergencies when your family is at home or at work.
Review this Childproofing Checklist (Spanish) to avoid as many potential injuries as possible. However, babies learn new things every minute- a lock that protected something yesterday may not today. Adequate supervision is always essential.
- Pools & Water
Drownings are the leading cause of injury death for children ages 1 to 4, and three children die every day in the US as a result of drowning.
- Always closely watch children around water.
- Install fences around pools and ponds.
- Enroll your child in swim lessons.
- Learn CPR.
- Never leave buckets with water in them.
- Install toilet cover locks or bathroom door locks to keep children out when not supervised.
- Heat & Sun
- Never leave your child in a parked car- even with an open window, even in the shade – never leave your child in a parked car, ever.
- Try to do most of your activities before 10 a.m. or after 2 p.m. when it is the coolest and ultraviolet rays are less intense.
- Drink lots of water…perhaps while reading a Potter the Otter book.
The Potter coloring sheets are a fun way to encourage kids to drink water instead of other less healthy drinks.
- Get medical help if you see the signs of heat-related illnesses (Spanish).
- Protect your child from skin cancer (Spanish) by covering up skin with clothing and hats. Wear sunscreen with at least SPF 15 with UVA and UVB protection.
- Because babies spend most of their time sucking on their hands and because they are more likely to absorb chemicals in sunscreen, most pediatricians discourage sunscreen for infants under six months. Babies also aren’t very good at sweating yet, so they easily overheat. Always protect your baby’s skin with hats, lightweight clothing, umbrellas, or other shade covers. Be careful to keep your baby hydrated with breastmilk or formula. If he appears red or fussy, you’ll want to take him inside to cool off.
- Avoid Bugs & Disease
- Wear insect repellent to avoid bites while outdoors. The Environmental Protection Agency encourages pregnant or nursing women to wear insect repellant. When using on children, apply to your own hands first and then put it on the child. Avoid applying repellent to children’s hands because children frequently put their hands in their eyes and mouths.
- Learn more about how to protect yourself against the Zika virus (Spanish).
On the Go
- Children under 13 should always ride in the backseat. Purchase the correct style seat for your child’s age and weight. Schedule a car seat inspection to make sure you’ve installed your seat correctly. Remember, inch and pinch- make sure that you can’t wiggle your child’s installed seat more than an inch and that the straps holding your child in the seat don’t allow you to pinch any excess strap.
- Walk on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, walk facing oncoming traffic. Teach your child to look both ways before crossing a street and to always use crosswalks.
- Helmets are the best way to protect your child against head and neck injury. Helmets need to fit your child’s head and should be worn low on your child’s forehead, not tipped back. The bottom edge of the helmet should be two fingers above the eyebrow. Your child should always wear a bike helmet when riding a bike, tricycle, or scooter or while a passenger on an adult bike. Insist your child always wears a helmet (Spanish).