… as much as you think you’ve baby- or child-proofed your home, there will always be something you didn’t realize could be harmful.
For mom of two Christina Moreland, author of the Secrets of the Super Mom series, learning by experience was what led her to become more aware of potential safety risks in her home.
Years ago, when her youngest son was 3, he took off to run laps around the house with his bigger brother.
“Then we heard a very strange cry from the other room,” she tells HealthyWay. “I went around [to] find Luke on the ground. He had slipped and fallen in his socks while chasing his brother. I got him up and he started crying, his eyes started rolling back into his head, and he began vomiting.”
Moreland immediately suspected a concussion and took her son to the ER right away. After a CT scan and some monitoring, her son was fine, but his unexpected injury completely changed the rules in their house.
“Now we never let him wear socks around the house, and running in the house is still not allowed,” she explains, admitting that last rule wasn’t so easy to enforce with two active boys.
Moreland’s story is exceptional in the sense that most parents wouldn’t think twice about their kids running in socks around the house. At the same time, there is something incredibly common about her story: something seemingly innocent was the source of her child’s injury.
Most new parents stock up on baby-proofing supplies when they first have a child, but in some cases, it isn’t enough. Thinking outside of the box and considering the unlikely just might help prevent an accidental injury in your home. Below are seven seemingly innocent things you probably wouldn’t expect to put your kids in harm’s way.
The Safety Devices That Could be Dangerous
It may be hard to believe, but your child’s infant car seat could actually cause an injury if you’re not careful. Even safety devices need to be used according to manufacturer guidelines to be truly safe.
Inside the car, children should always be snugly buckled. Children shouldn’t wear extra clothing, puffy coats, or have blankets beneath the harness, as this could be prevent the car seat from doing its job if you get into a wreck, wrote Emily A. Thomas, PhD, in an article for Consumer Reports.
Reports like those are giving more and more parents better understandings of proper car seat use while driving, but fewer understand the risks related to using them while shopping or at home.
For instance, using a detachable car seat in a shopping cart is a fairly common practice, but it is actually not recommended by manufacturers. Even though the clips appear to be perfect for hooking the seat in the child seat of the shopping cart, they’re not. In a 2017 study published in the journal Pediatrics, detachable infant car seats were found to be responsible for 19.5 percent of injuries caused by baby products, and a third of those injuries happened when the seat fell from an elevated surface, like the top of a shopping cart.
When used outside of the car, infant car seats should always be placed on the floor—and truthfully, children shouldn’t be spending an extended amount of time in them when you’re not driving.
A Risky Bedtime Routine
For many families, a bath before bed is an essential part of bringing their child’s day to a peaceful close. Of course, we would never suggest that parents stop bathing their kids before their bedtime story, but we certainly think that parents should take bath time safety very, very seriously.
“Most young children are taught to love water from a young age in an effort to make them enjoy bath time, but we often forget just how dangerous water can be,” advises Max Robinson, who writes for PreciousLittleOne, a parenting blog full of child-rearing and child safety advice.
Robinson urges parents to make sure they understand that drowning during bath time is a serious risk, even in just a few inches of water. Additionally, many parents simply don’t consider that their child may be able to work the tap themselves until an accident happens. Specifically, young children face the risk of burning themselves in the tub.
“Most taps will provide water that is hot enough to burn a young child,” Robinson says. “The best way to prevent these accidents from happening is to ensure that taps are not child-friendly. Items like the Tap Strap fit on most taps and will make it near impossible for your child to turn on the tap.”
Jump at Your Own Risk
At-home trampolines are a popular way for kids to get plenty of exercise and entertainment, but they are unfortunately a frequent source of injury for children of all ages. As the contraptions have become more popular, rates of injuries have increased, with as many as 3,164 hospitalizations due to trampoline injuries in a single year, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics believes that the risk of injury is so great that they advise parents to forego buying at-home trampolines altogether.
“Pediatricians should counsel their patients and families against recreational trampoline use and explain that current data indicate safety measures have not significantly reduced injury rates and that catastrophic injuries do occur,” their website reads. And, for families who can’t let go of this beloved recreational equipment, the AAP recommends strict rules about one jumper at a time and constant adult supervision.
Risks Beneath Your Feet
According to Sokhom Som, global brand manager at Safety 1st, many parents focus so much on making sure the kitchen and living room are safe that they miss the hazards in other areas of their home.
“Hazards can be found … in any room, including the bathroom, home office, and bedrooms,” Som advises, and emphasizes looking out for things that would cause falls.
“Try to keep hallways clear of extra clutter such as laundry, shoes, or toys,” she urges.
“Accent rugs are often overlooked when safeguarding the home,” continues Som. “Removing them during the ‘learning to walk’ stage allows your toddler to bumble around with ease.”
Additionally, Som shares a few tips for making sure the bathroom is especially safe from falls: Parents should move all medicine into cabinets that are either locked or far out of reach of the child, Som says. Also, non-slip bath mats will help prevent a slip and fall on tile floors that have become slippery during bath time.
Unexpected Bedroom Risks
When it comes to baby-proofing your home, making sure your child’s bedroom is safe should be a top priority, as they will spend more time playing there independently as they grow older. Most parents likely have the electric outlets covered, but there are other risks that often get missed, according to Som.
First, parents should be certain that all dressers, bookcases, and other heavy furniture are carefully secured to the walls using furniture straps, like those offered by Safety 1st. Window blinds provide an unexpected risk, as well, because of dangling cords: parents should may sure these cords are securely tucked away to prevent a baby or toddler from becoming accidentally tangled, advises Som.
Baby Gate Mistakes
Having baby gates installed in your home is incredibly important, but just like any other safety device, you have to be certain you are using it properly if you really want to prevent an accident.
“Make sure to install gates specifically designed for [where you’re putting it],” says Som, as some are designed for doorways and others are designed for stairways.
“Don’t put pressure-mounted gates at the top of stairs, as they aren’t strong enough to prevent falls,” explains Som, who suggests the Safety 1st Ready to Install Gate, which is specifically meant for the top and bottom of stairs and to block off rooms.
Parenting is scary enough without worrying about safety hazards you’ve overlooked in your home.
If you are concerned about unexpected ways your child could get injured, there are a few things you can do to put your mind at ease.
“The best way to prevent home injuries with children is to crawl around your house on your hands and knees and look at everything from their eye level,” says Moreland. “What’s tempting to touch? What did you think you put away but is clearly not safe yet? Try to think intentionally about what could happen, because as much as you think you’ve baby- or child-proofed your home, there will always be something you didn’t realize could be harmful.”
Additionally, there are a lot of resources out there that parents can use to make sure they’ve covered all the bases when it comes to child safety. Specifically, Safety 1st has a “Make My Home Safe” calculator available for free online. This calculator walks parents through questions they may might not think of themselves and then recommends safety products specifically for their home.