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Designing a baby-friendly family room

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hearth gate
A hearth gate keeps children away from the fireplace
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Designing a baby-friendly family room is imperative with little ones underfoot

Bringing a baby into your home is going to rock your world so gird your loins. Initially, the infant is immobile and easily contained and kept safe. However, once the child gets his bearings and starts crawling, exploring and then walking, Katy bar the door!

You need safety precautions in place. Designing a baby-friendly family room is certainly doable -- and it is absolutely necessary. Knowing your child is in a safe environment gives you peace of mind.

All homes should be equipped with smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, particularly when there are small children and babies in residence. Then follow this checklist of other basic baby-proofing products and safeguarding steps for your home, concentrating on the family room, where you will spend the bulk of your time with baby:

  • Place a baby monitor in the family room so you can hear the child if you step out of the room.
  • Put covers over electrical outlets and over power cord strips. Children like to explore, which can get them into a trouble and get them into situations in which they get hurt. They also like to chew on things they shouldn't chew on. Use an electric cord shortener so your child can't get tangled up in electrical cords.

  • NOTE: Never place a baby crib next to window where cords from the curtains or blinds are hanging. Kids can get choked on the cords.
  • The fireplace is hazardous. Purchase a fireplace door guard. This prevents children's fingers from getting pinched in folding or swinging fireplace doors. It locks into place.
  • A fireplace bumper made of foam is placed over the front and side of the hearth so a child isn't going to hurt himself if he falls.
  • A hearth safety gate is essential. It ensures protection from flames and heat as well as keeps children away from the hard, rough surface of the hearth and its sharp corners.
  • Use anti-tip furniture straps so children can't tip furniture over onto themselves.
  • Put an anti-tip strap on the back of the TV so it is secure and won't tip over. Kids are fascinated with the TV and will investigate. More than one child has been injured when a TV tipped over on him.
  • Install edge cushions covering sharp corners on tables. Kids are notorious for bumping into the sharp edges of furniture. Save your child's noggin!
  • A baby gate keeps your child contained and prevents him from wondering off into another room or up or down stairs.

Move on to the rest of your home

  • Know how to do infant CPR. Babies get choked easily.
  • Keep medicines and toxic cleaning products under lock and key.
  • Teach small children the stove top is hot. Do not let the handles of pots and pans point outward because children can grab them.
  • Put a gate around your swimming pool and lock it.
  • If your child turns out to be an escape artist, put a lock high up on the door so he can't reach it. Put a sleigh bell on the door so you know when someone is coming in or going on.
  • Do not leave small children alone with animals.
  • Never leave small items on the floor. The child can pick it up and pop it into his mouth. Small items are a choking hazard.
  • If you suspect there is lead paint in your home, get rid of it. Kids eat the paint chips and this is poisonous.
  • The infant's crib should have slats that are no more than 2 3/8 inches apart. If the slats are farther apart than that the baby can get his head stuck in between.
  • Do not buy a crib that has cutouts on the foot board or headboard.
  • When the top rails are raised they should be a minimum of 26 inches above the mattress at its lowest point.
  • When the child is able to pull himself up into a standing position, put the mattress at its lowest position.
  • There shouldn't be any gaps between the mattress and the crib If an adult can put two fingers in between the crib and mattress that is too big of a gap.

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