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Beyond Baby Proofing: How to Make Your Home Safe For a Young Child

Placing covers on electrical outlets and setting up a baby gate can help keep your child safe in your home, but it doesn't need to stop there. From teaching the baby to avoid dangerous areas to switching to natural cleaners, maintaining a safe environment is the key element to keeping your child from danger.

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Avoid Harsh Chemicals

Keeping a clean home is vital, but so is the choice of cleaning products, says Leigh Anne O’Connor, a New York-based parenting consultant and certified lactation consultant. Harsh cleaning chemicals, such as bleach, can be poisonous to babies. She suggests parents use vinegar and water-based based products, or mix your own cleaner with citrus fruits and vinegar.

Create Play Spaces

A designated play space may attract your child to safer areas of the home, O'Connor says. “Make areas for little ones to own like a bookshelf that she can go to without needing a grownup to get,” she says. “Children are naturally curious and want to do what we do, so give them a space to access their own stuff.”

Make Healthy Choices

Mentally healthy parents are the best line of safety defense for any child, according to Dr. Maria Miller of Oviedo Pediatrics in Oviedo, Florida. Limit your own alcohol consumption, and eliminate your child’s access to second-hand smoke. “If you or visitors smoke, always do it outside away from the child and shower or change clothes before handling the child,” Miller says. “Second-hand smoke is especially harmful to children because their lungs are weaker than adults.”

Supervise Pets

Supervise your child closely when an animal is present, says Miller. Even if you have a mild-mannered pet, an aggressive child can provoke it when you least expect it. “It is also a good idea to keep aggressive animals away from the child,” she says. “No device, such as a leash or shock collar, is better than an engaged parent.”

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Protect the Protective Measures

All homes should have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, but they could pose a problem when curious children are around. The baby could disable the device, and there's a risk of electrocution. Parenting experts with the March of Dimes say that's why all safety devices must be set up high enough so little hands can't reach them.

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