How Can I Keep My Bathroom Safe for Kids?
The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that nearly 90 kids drown at home each year—and about 66% of those incidents happen in the bathtub.1 You can help reduce that risk by keeping a close eye on any kids in the bathroom, installing safety devices like gates and slip-proof mats, and cleaning up puddles and other potential hazards.
Make your daily bath routine safer by remembering the following advice on bathroom safety for kids.
- Never Leave a Child Unattended
No matter if the phone rings or your dog starts barking, don’t leave your child unattended in the bathtub. It only takes a second for a child to slip underwater, and mere minutes for them to lose consciousness.
- Don’t Leave the Bathroom until the Water Has Drained Completely
Young children and babies can drown in just two inches of water. Until the bathtub has drained completely, don’t walk out of the room.
- Get a Baby Gate
Keep kids out of the bathroom when you’re not in there with them by installing a baby gate. Toilets, household chemicals, and other dangers lurk in the bathroom, so it’s best to keep it off limits until they’re old enough to use the bathroom unsupervised.
- Bathe Babies in the Sink
Practice good baby bath safety by bathing infants in the sink or in a bathtub adapter. This will ensure they’re never able to completely submerge or roll over onto their stomachs. Plus, bathing them in the sink will help you keep a good grip on them since they’ll be at your level.
- Get a Scald Guard
Drowning isn’t the only danger in the bathtub. Scalding water can also really hurt your kids—and you. Every year, over 500,000 people are injured by scalding water, and kids under 5 years old and people over 65 years old are most at risk.2 Turn your hot water heater down to 120 degrees and install scald-guard faucets so the water never gets too hot. Test the water before you put your child into the bath, too; if it feels too hot on your hand, it’ll be way too intense for them.
- Take a Shower Instead
Take your kids into the shower with you. That way, you both can get cleaned up safely. Just make sure you’ve installed slip-proof mats to reduce the risk of any accidental falls.
- Mop Up Excess Water
You may have mastered bath time with your kids, but what happens if you get injured while they’re in the tub? Pay attention to splashes that pool on the bathroom floor, too, and lay down a bath mat to mop up the excess water so nobody can slip, hit their head, and get knocked unconscious.
- Cover Sharp Edges
If you have a faucet or drain opener with sharp edges, baby proof it. You don’t want your child bumping their face, head, or body on such a hard and unforgiving object. That could result in lots of injuries that could send your kid to the hospital for stitches, concussion treatment, and more.
At What Age Can a Child Be Left Home Alone?
The answer depends on both state laws and your child’s maturity. Eight is probably the youngest age it’s safe to leave a child alone, but depending on area guidelines and your child’s abilities, age 10–14 may be a bit safer.
While Kevin McCallister did just fine at age 7, most states have guidelines suggesting the age to leave a child alone, and a few even have specific limits. Additionally, you should take into account your child’s capabilities: Do they know how to contact authorities in the event of an emergency? Can they keep themselves safe for a few hours? These factors and others should go into the decision of whether to leave your child home alone.
Connected Devices Help You Keep an Eye on Kids Old Enough to Be Alone
If you check your local legislation and evaluate your child’s abilities and determine that they’ll be safe alone, consider bringing home some products to ensure your kids stay safer when you’re not home.
- Wearable Devices: Give your kids GPS bracelets so you can stay in the know at all times. These bracelets track your child’s whereabouts, let you set emergency contacts and safety perimeters, and allow your kids to call you if they’re in trouble. Some GPS bracelets like AngelSense are made especially for kids with special needs, so they let you listen in to see what’s happening.
- Home Security Systems: Home security systems range in function and pricing, but there are many options to tailor a perfect solution to your household. If you’re worried about your kids, choose a home security system with lots of home automation features so you can check in on them from wherever you are—getting alerts when they open the front door, get a visitor, or set off a smoke alarm. Get help finding the perfect home security system for your family.
- Smart Video Cameras: You can purchase surveillance cameras, baby monitors, and nanny cams to keep an eye on your kids at all times. Purchase these video cameras independently from a larger home security system or with additional safety gadgets. To get the ultimate home security for your family, we recommend going with a full home security system.
- Smart Doorbells: Knock, knock? You’ll know who’s there when you install smart doorbells. These futuristic devices have a video camera, wireless signal, and motion sensor so they turn on whenever someone comes to the door. You can sync your smart doorbell to your phone through an app, so whenever someone comes knocking while your child is home alone, you’ll get a real-time alert to see who it is. Most smart doorbells also offer two-way voice communication, so you can find out what the person wants before advising your child on how to proceed.
- Smart Door Locks: What goes perfectly with a smart doorbell? A smart door lock. These cool safety devices let you arm and disarm your deadbolts from wherever you are. If your kids come home from school but don’t have a key, let them in through the app. This also helps you control who your kids let in the house when you’re not around. Plus, you’ll get alerts when the doors are locked and unlocked, so you’ll be aware of who’s coming and going and at what hours.
- Smart Smoke and CO Alarms: Smoke and fire can engulf a home in mere minutes. Keep your family and precious belongings safer with smart smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms. This type of smart technology is a literal lifesaver. The Nest Protect, for instance, can sync with your smart thermostats to turn off the furnace if it detects fire. It can also alert you through phone notifications if smoke is detected—perfect for keeping tabs on your kids’ safety while you’re not home.
Babysitters Help Watch Children Who Are Too Young to Be Alone
If you have a busy schedule and can’t be home when your kids get off the bus, consider hiring a nanny or babysitter. Companies like Care.com carefully vet all nannies with thorough background checks and interviews. You can read reviews from other parents to see what caretakers are like before you welcome them into your home.
Plenty of safety devices and smart gadgets on the market can help you keep your kids safe when they are old enough to stay home alone. Consult our resources hub or explore home security products to keep your household happy, healthy, and secure.
What Are the Benefits of a Baby Movement Monitor? Do I Need One?
Rather than simply alerting you to your baby’s nighttime or naptime sounds, a number of baby monitors available today provide an incredible amount of information. Baby movement monitors, such as the Owlet or the Angelcare, use special sensors to track a baby’s movement while they’re sleeping and alert you to any stillness that may signal a problem.
These devices can also monitor temperature, breathing, and heart rate to give you a more complete picture of your child’s health. Some even transmit video so you can see exactly what’s going on in the crib without risking an untimely awakening by opening the door and walking into the room.
The Benefits of Monitoring Movement
Many parents say that the extra perks of baby movement monitors—also called baby vitals monitors or baby breathing monitors—give them added peace of mind. Instead of staying awake wondering if their baby is okay or even checking multiple times through the night, they can get more precious sleep because they’re confident in the monitor’s ability to wake them up if there’s any problem.
Because these monitors can sound an alarm if the baby may be in danger, the potential lifesaving benefit of these devices makes them very appealing. Those early days of parenting are full of unknowns and fears; alleviating some of that stress is a major perk.
Determining Whether You Need a Monitor
Are baby movement monitors necessary for every family? No. Some will opt to use a traditional baby monitor instead or to forego monitors altogether. And depending on sleeping arrangements, such monitors aren’t feasible for every family.
If you think this kind of monitor may be a good fit for you, though, take a look through our Baby Monitors Buyers Guide. There you’ll find easy-to-read information to help you compare different products, along with links to more details and online merchants. While you’re researching, you can also check out our guides for baby-proofing locks and baby gates.
When Is the Best Time to Baby Proof My House, and How Do I Do It?
If you’re looking for the ideal time to baby proof your house, rest assured that this important task doesn’t have to be completed before your baby arrives. But though you don’t have to do everything at once, it might be worth buying and installing some baby-proofing supplies when the nesting instinct kicks in a few months before you meet your baby. You can predict and arrange your schedule more easily at that time than in the newborn phase, so we’d recommend at least planning your baby-proofing priorities a little ahead of your baby’s due date.
How to Baby Proof: Break It Down
The question of how to baby proof requires a more complex answer. To get started, get down on your baby’s level. Lie down on your stomach and back to approximate what they’ll see when crawling and rolling; sit on your bottom to approximate their height when walking. Once there, look for anything that seems interesting. Are there cords your little one could go after? What about electrical outlets? Loose carpet corners? Fragile items on a low shelf? Seeing what your baby sees is a crucial first step in baby proofing; it will help you know what to repair, store out of reach, or buy to protect your child.
As noted above, you don’t have to tackle everything all at once. Every home will have its own specific needs, but here are some basic baby-proofing tasks most parents will need to check off the list, broken into subsections for age and development.
- For Newborns
- Make sure the pull cords on your window blinds don’t pose a choking hazard. Some cords are specifically designed to avoid this risk, but if needed, you can also buy small attachments to make them safe.
- If you use a changing table for diapering, make sure it’s outfitted with a safety buckle to keep your child from rolling off.
- Ensure your baby’s sleeping area doesn’t contain any choking or suffocation hazards.
- For Crawling Infants
- Secure heavy furniture and appliances with wall anchors and safety straps. Floor lamps, large decorative vases, and similar items that could tip over should be moved to other rooms.
- Unplug and stash small appliances when they’re not in use. It’s all too easy for a crawling kid to grab the cord of an iron or hair dryer and pull it down to the floor.
- Fasten long cords to walls or in an out-of-reach place.
- Store medicine in a cabinet well out of your child’s grasp.Use childproof outlet covers or cover all electrical outlets with heavy pieces of furniture.
- Take safety precautions at bath time by installing slip-proof mats in the bathtub and a soft cover on the faucet.
- Position safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs, as well as in doorways to rooms you don’t want your baby to enter alone.
- For Walking Babies and Young Toddlers
- Consider child-safe window screens or window guards to prevent your child from falling out of open windows.
- Think about what’s stored in kitchen/bathroom drawers and add safety gadgets to keep your child from accessing hair products, razors, kitchen utensils, etc.
- Attach lid locks to your toilets; this will keep your wandering toddler from getting into the toilet water or having their fingers hurt by a falling lid.
- Keep any hazardous chemicals and small appliances away from your child, either by storing them on a high shelf or using safety latches on cabinet doors.
These divisions are just rough estimates. If you have a particularly curious crawler, you may want to prioritize some of the items in the section for young toddlers, for instance.
Installing Baby Proofing Devices
If you’re not sure how to install child safety cabinet locks, opt for a model that’s easy to install. One of the easiest types of cabinet locks to use and install is a wraparound lock. You simply squeeze the tabs on the moveable portion of the device and pull to lengthen the loop, place the device over both cabinet knobs, and then tighten the loop back up using the same method you used to loosen it.
Installing child safety latches on drawers requires a few more tools, but it’s still easily doable for most parents. Simply remove the drawer and install the catch plate on the top of the opening, about one inch from the corner. Replace the drawer and hold the latch portion inside the drawer to line it up with the catch plate. When you’re sure the two parts align, mark the latch placement with a pencil. You can then screw the latch into the drawer, using the marks as a guide, to complete the installation.
Additionally, most manufacturers give detailed instructions with all their products, so you’ll be able to breathe easy knowing these precautions will protect your baby exactly as they’re meant to.
Adapting Strategies as Your Child Grows
Baby proofing will eventually become child proofing, and as your child grows up, the process of making your home a safe place for them continues. To prepare for a taller, smarter, and more curious child, think about adding child-safe doorknob covers, keeping your countertops clear, and designating certain drawers or shelves for items they can play with safely—having a special place your child can go to find their own fun stuff will help keep them from poking around in other areas.
To find the best safety products for your family, check out SafeWise’s Buyers Guide section. Parents in the midst of baby proofing may be particularly interested in our guides for baby monitors, baby proofing locks, and baby gates.
How Can I Keep My Child Safe in the Pool or at a Lake?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that an average of two children drown each day in America, meaning it’s critically important for you as a parent to keep your child safe when they’re playing around water.1 Setting some ground rules for your child, ensuring that they never swim alone or unsupervised, and bringing the right gear to the beach are all great ways to enforce water safety for kids.
Here are some more details on ground rules to improve your kids’ pool safety.
Walk—Never Run—at the Pool
Lifeguards will blow their whistles at your kids if they’re scampering around the pool because it’s easy to slip and fall on wet surfaces. While most slips result in minor bumps and bruises, your child could hit their head and be knocked unconscious in a serious fall. Teach your kids about pool safety, and make sure they know to walk around the pool and save the horsing around for a safer environment.
Establish a Buddy System
If your kids are old enough to want a little independence, set up a buddy system with friends. Make sure your kids know that they’re in charge of looking out for one another and alerting an adult immediately if something happens.
When Possible, Keep Kids in Lifeguarded Areas
Swimming within an area patrolled by lifeguards means help won’t ever be too far away and professional eyes are always watching out for your little ones. Lifeguards undergo rigorous training to receive their certification. Depending on area requirements, some trainees learn to dive 10–12 feet underwater and retrieve a 10-pound weight. Many also have to tread water for two minutes and easily swim 300–500 yards without fatiguing. Suffice to say, lifeguards are well trained to rescue people in distress and enforce pool safety rules.
Have Goggles Handy
If your child slips underwater at the lake, it could be murky. Always keep goggles on hand so you can find your child quickly and easily in the water.
Use Water Safety Devices for Kids
There’s no such thing as being too safe around water. Consider buying some of the following water safety supplies to keep your kids secure when playing in the ocean, pool, or lake.
- Floaties: Children can drown in as little as just a few inches of water, so when you’re by the pool or a lake, it’s critical to follow proper water safety protocol. Read labels carefully before buying arm floaties or flotation devices for your kids so you bring home the safest option.
- Life Jackets: Talk to your kids about why it’s important for them to wear life jackets—even if they may seem silly. You never know when a water emergency may happen, so it’s smart to be prepared.
- Pool Alarms: Pool safety alarms come in many different styles: some monitor motion on the water’s surface, while others detect if a pool gate has been opened. Whether an animal, neighbor, or your child ventures into the pool area unsupervised you’ll know about it.
- Pool Gates, Nets, and Covers: Most states have laws about fencing off pools, but even if yours doesn’t, you should still install a fence or secure pool cover at your home. Verify that whatever option you choose is able to bear enough weight to keep your child safe.
- Drain Covers: Drains use suction to siphon water into the filter for cleaning. If your child swims near a drain, they could get stuck. Buy a drain cover that keeps hair, bathing suits, and body parts out.
- Wearable Alarm Bracelets: You can buy a GPS bracelet for your kids and set safe perimeter zones around the pool. That way, if they get too close to the water, you’ll get an alert so you can save them from danger.
When you head to the pool, child safety should be a top priority. Check out our list of water safety products to find a few devices that could save your child’s life.