Expectant parents have a lot on the mind, but, amongst the many “To Dos” in preparation for the baby’s arrival, home renovations should not be ignored. A new baby not only requires changes to the home, but to the house as well. Safety is the primary concern and should drive prioritizing decisions with respect to preparatory home renovations.
“Baby-proofing” has become a popular aspect of home improvement, and for good reason. While initially the baby’s time will be split between the relative safety of mom’s arms and the crib, once the baby learns to crawl you are in for a few years of curious, and potentially dangerous, exploration of every bit of your home. Many of these improvements require little effort but offer immeasurable returns in terms of peace of mind.
If you live in an older home you should definitely confirm that there are no lead-based paints in the home. If there are lead based paints on walls, doors, or other surfaces, they must be covered by specially-designed sealants or thoroughly removed. In either case, consult with a professional contractor to ensure you are taking all necessary precautions. Legal bans on lead pipes for home plumbing were only enacted within the last 25 years, so you should test your water for the presence of lead. Home test kits are available from most home improvement stores.
Electric outlets are of particular concern because they are easily accessible by the crawling baby. Look for easily attachable plastic covers with child-proof access.
If your water heater allows, set the maximum temperature to 120 degrees.
Removable gates can keep children off of staircases, but, as an additional safety measure, if you have polished wood stairs, you may want to consider adding some sort of inlay for traction. Handrails are also available that attach to the existing rail, without damaging walls, to provide a lower, easy-grip surface for small children.
On doors to basements, garages, or any area you want to keep the child out of, replace lever doorknobs with traditional circular knobs that are more difficult for a child to open. Alternatively, covers or accessories that prevent a lever knob from being opened can be bought at home supply stores and installed to avoid outright replacement.
If window replacement is on your list of pending home renovations, anticipation of a curiously crawling new family member is good reason to consider safety windows or window locks that cannot be easily opened by a child.
Install child-proof safety locks on cabinet doors to avoid dangerous exploration of household products, tools, or breakable items.
If you have tall bookshelves or dresser drawers, anchor them to walls to prevent a curious child from toppling one over.
If all of these safety preparations have you exhausted, install a video/audio monitoring system in the baby’s room to save a few of those late-night trips out of the bed.