On the Safe Side

Before the big day finally arrives, follow these easy childproofing tips to make your home ready for your new child.

A baby in a car seat happy about childproofing

If you’re like many adoptive parents, the leap into “instant parenthood” may have caught you off-guard, leaving you with little time to take a baby-care class or to childproof your home. But since babies grow (and become mobile) at an amazing rate, it’s important to put some safety measures in place before your baby arrives, and at each stage of her development. Here’s how to begin.

Before the Big Day

If you’re adopting a newborn, or a very young baby, she won’t be crawling or walking — yet. But you’ll still need to:

  • Place a thick carpet or rug beneath her changing table and her crib. Make sure the table has a safety strap.
  • Position your baby’s crib away from windows, heaters, lamps, and window-blind cords.
  • Make sure the crib slats are no more than 2 3⁄8 inches apart (to prevent your baby’s head from becoming trapped); the mattress fits snugly; and the crib is structurally sturdy, especially if you’re using a hand-me-down.
  • Remove mobiles and hanging toys from the crib when your baby is about four or five months of age.
  • Set your water heater no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit, to help prevent scalding your child in the tub.
  • Place a carbon monoxide detector on the sleeping level of your home, and preferably in the main living area, as well. Install smoke detectors on every floor.
  • Use an infant car seat in the backseat of your car. (See the car seat’s instructions for details on installing it correctly.)

Before Baby Starts Crawling

Babies generally start crawling around seven or eight months, but many get moving earlier. By nine or 10 months, your baby may start pulling himself up and “cruising along” furniture, in preparation for walking. Before he gets mobile, you’ll need to:

  • Place safety gates at the top and bottom of stairways.
  • Install window guards on any windows that could be reached by a climbing child.
  • Put childproof latches on any cabinets or drawers that contain sharp, poisonous, or otherwise unsafe items.
  • Keep the drop side of your baby’s crib up and locked when you’re not in the room.
  • Put safety plugs or outlet covers over unused electrical outlets.
  • Cover furniture edges with corner guards or table bumpers, or remove a sharp-edged coffee table from your living room entirely.
  • Secure tall, heavy furniture that can topple (such as bookcases) to the wall.

Once Baby Steps Out

When your child begins walking (usually around one year of age), you’ll need to step up your childproofing. In addition to the suggestions above:

  • Put nonslip mats in your bathtub and on the floor next to the tub.
  • Put nonslip pads under area rugs to make them skid-free.
  • Install a stove guard and knob covers on your kitchen stove. When cooking, use back burners if possible.
  • Move any furniture your child can climb on away from windows.
  • Move your child from a crib to a bed before she reaches three feet tall.

Adoption Agencies

La Crosse
Adoption Routes/Programs
U.S. Newborn, International
Adoption Choice Inc.
Green Bay
Adoption Routes/Programs
U.S. Newborn, U.S. Foster, International
Adoption Routes/Programs
U.S. Newborn, International, Special Needs/Waiting Child
Agape Adoptions
Adoption Routes/Programs
International, Special Needs/Waiting Child
Family & Children’s Agency
Adoption Routes/Programs
U.S. Newborn, International
Adoption Routes/Programs
U.S. Newborn

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