25 Everyday Baby & Toddler Hazards that are Often Overlooked in Baby-Proofed Homes
One-Time Babyproofing is Just Not Enough!
Most moms & dads spend time attempting to babyproof their home. Too often, this is done before the baby is born and not revisited again. Following childproofing guidelines is a great start, but even a thorough babyproofing job done by professionals can't prepare mom & dad for the many other dangers that baby will face!
This is my top list of things that are often overlooked or introduced to homes regularly which can pose hazards for your baby. This is not meant to be a childproofing guide, but a supplemental warning to parents as to other dangers that they may otherwise overlook.
Please read this list completely and feel free to add comments with your own suggestions or experiences for other moms & dads.
25 Baby and Toddler Hazards
- Balloons: So often given to babies and toddlers, but also SO DANGEROUS!!! They are so desirable for chewing on, especially when popped. A balloon (or piece of balloon) caught in the throat is one of the worst items for choking. It often can not be coughed out because it will stretch with force. I don't deny my girls balloons, but I do watch very very closely and put them away out-of-reach when not being played with. I also always pop them and throw them away when they go to bed. This does not exclude helium balloons. If left around the house for a while, helium balloons will slowly make their way down to baby-level. Helium balloons also have an added hazard which I have personally experienced with my youngest daughter.. the long string. This can get wrapped around arms, legs, or even worse.. neck! Balloons of all types are my number 1 because they are so common, so often overlooked, and so very dangerous!!!
- Open Windows (even with screens): An open window is an invitation to little crawlers and toddlers to peek outside at so many new things and sounds. Very often, toddlers will climb onto the windowsill or lean over pushing on the screen. As a paramedic, my husband has witnessed the tragedy of this danger firsthand. Please put locks on your upper-floor windows and keep them closed at all times!
- Portable Fans & Space Heaters: Actually, any time you pull something out of the closet, cabinet, or garage to use it, consider the possible hazards! It's easy to forget safety when using something that you have been using for years before baby was around!
- Pet-Related Items: Food and Water, pet toys, and even pet hair can all be choking hazards. You have probably heard that babies can and do drown in less than 1 inch of water.. this is NOT a myth!!! Pet toys are also not safety checked for children under 3 and present numerous choking hazards. Partially chewed bones and treats, pieces of rope from dog tug-toys, the little balls that cats love to play with.. all of these are hazardous and should be carefully watched and kept away when not in use. My youngest also got a kick recently when she pulled a clump of hair off of our large dog that was shedding her winter coat, then started to put it in her mouth!
- Kitchen appliances: Again this goes along with anything removed from a cabinet for use. Use plugs above counter-level when using kitchen appliances. We commonly use our large mixer on the kitchen island and use the outlet on the side of the island, but have to watch the baby carefully as she has tried to pull it down on more than one occasion!
- Laptop AC Adapter Cord: I had to add this one to the list since it is currently my youngest daughter's favorite. When I am using my laptop, she loves to come over and pull out the AC cord from the back to get my attention. When I don't take it away immediately, guess where it goes? Yep, right to the mouth while still plugged in!
- Hot Dogs & Foods with Skin: These cause a huge number of choking incidents every year. Always cut hot dogs lengthwise at least 4 times, then dice into tiny pieces. Do the same for any other foods with skin (or remove the skin completely: tomatoes, grapes, nectarines, sausage, green beans, etc..
- Shower & Bath Items (Razors, Soap Bars (especially when they are smaller after being used), etc): These items are often replaces, moved, and dropped and can be very hazardous. Always look over the bath area and keep them out-of-reach.
- Plants: Not just because some are poisonous, but the dirt, leaves, and stems pose choking hazards as well.
- Napkins, Tissues, Toilet Paper, and other paper items such as newspapers, magazines, books. Napkins and tissue products are especially hazardous since they shrink when put in the mouth while also absorbing saliva making it hard to spit out, and hard to swallow. Watch for baby getting the napkins at restaurants too!
- Use of restaurant high chairs to hold infant carseats: You may have seen baby slings that many restaurants now have, and I am sure you have seen the standard wooden highchairs. SOME restaurant highchairs are made so that they can be turned upside-down and used to hold a carseat. However, be careful! Not all of the wooden highchairs are made to work that way! If the seat portion is narrower than the bottom, the seat has a higher back than front, or if the carseat does not seem to fit correctly, do not attempt this! We have had wait staff offer the upside-down highchair when it was not made for carseat use and almost had our infant daughter toppled to the floor when a passerby brushed against the seat!
- Everything left behind by older kids & adults. Candy wrappers, pennies, small toys, food, etc..
- Doorstops - the little rubber covers are a choking hazard and springy doorstops are a favorite play-toy for crawlers.
- Crib bumper pads - I really don't see the point in using these. I have read that it is recommended to remove them as soon as baby can roll over. Well, what is the point then? Just don't use it to begin with!
- Outlet covers: The little plastic safety covers that slip into outlets to protect your little ones... they are a hazard in themselves! They must be removed to use the outlet, and too often in my house were found on the floor, chewed by the dog, or in the hands of a baby. I simply threw them out. They are great for unused outlets, but for outlets that you often use, get an alternative safety device such as a full outlet cover or sliding outlet faceplate.
- Baby & doll socks: Babies love to play with their toes, and the socks have to come off. The first place they go? Right to the mouth. Small socks can be a choking hazard. My babies are known for being barefoot because of this!
- Trash cans & wastebaskets: A favorite in the bathroom and bedrooms. It may not be attractive, but put the trash can up on the counter or otherwise out-of-reach. If the items in it are not a choking hazard, chances are they are still items you wouldn't want in your baby's mouth!
- Grocery & Shopping Bags: Plastic bags of any type are a serious suffocation and choking hazard! Put these away and out-of-reach immediately!
- Paper Tags on garments & stuffed animals: Watch these when out shopping as well! Moms & Dads often give baby a new toy or item to play with while shopping.. remember that the packaging is not usually baby-proof. Yes, this also means those Beanie Baby Ty tags should always be removed!
- Hard Floors: Tile & Laminate flooring is wonderful when you have little kids, but also hazardous for new crawlers and walkers. Unfortunately I have yet to come up with a solution better than putting a soft winter hat on new crawlers (I don't recommend this unless you have a very chilly home!) Get an area rug and a few throw rugs if you don't have them already, at least for the initial crawling and walking phases.
- Refrigerator Magnets: Examine and remove any that you may have which could pose a choking hazard. These can fall off or slide down unnoticed and end up in baby's mouth.
- Tablecloths & Table Runners: Fun to pull on, but the consequences can be disastrous. Remove tablecloths and table runners or ensure there is nothing on top that could fall on baby.
- Remote Controls: Mom and dad use them all the time, so these are appealing to baby also! Battery covers come off easily on most remote controls and the cover and batteries are a choking hazard. Keep remote controls up and out of reach.
- Small Snacks - While great for toddlers with all their teeth, most small snack items are choking hazards for little eaters so please use caution when choosing snack foods. Some to avoid until chewing is mastered are: Raisins, Fruit Snacks, Goldfish, Skittles and other hard or semi-hard candies. Alternatives I personally use for my baby are: bananas, diced tomatoes, diced peaches (smaller than they come in the can!), cheerios, diced ham or lunchmeat, toast broken into small baby-bite-size pieces, and grated cheese.
- Your purse! The hazards here are numerous.. just keep it out-of-reach and watch baby around it when you are out shopping! One more thing.. don't give baby your car keys or cell phone to play with. My advice.. give her your credit card instead!
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