If you’re an expectant parent, it’s never too early to start preparing for the little resident who will be moving in soon. While choosing a cute crib and stocking up on wee onesies is fun, there are plenty of practical parenting tasks to tackle. And parents with disabilities might need to get an especially early start if childproofing chores will take them a little longer or if they need to schedule outside assistance. Here are some tips to baby-proof your home and put yourself in the daddy or mommy mindset well before your little one arrives.
Starting With the Basics
First, make sure your home is stocked with some general safety equipment that could help protect all its occupants.
● Check to see that your smoke alarms are in working order and get on a schedule to test them monthly and change batteries at least twice a year. Many newer-model smoke detectors are hardwired into a household electrical circuit and use batteries for backup power. Others might feature long-lasting lithium battery packs. Those models may need batteries less often, but should still be tested regularly.
● Install a carbon monoxide detector if you don’t already have one. This is especially important if your home has an attached garage or uses oil or gas for heating. You might want to opt for a combination smoke detector and carbon monoxide alarm that is hardwired or uses a lithium battery, especially if you are dealing with a disability that could make changing conventional batteries challenging.
● Invest in a fire extinguisher if you don’t already have one. Discard your old extinguisher if it was manufactured more than 12 years ago. If you are purchasing a new extinguisher, make sure it was manufactured in the last year and that its pressure indicator shows it is full. You might want to opt for a model that’s marked with an A, B, and C, which indicates it can be used to put out trash, wood, and paper fires, oil and grease fires, and electrical fires. Consumer Reports recommends you purchase the largest extinguisher you can safely handle and also make sure you know how to operate it well before any emergency situation.
● Anchor furniture that could tip over to the wall or floor. You can purchase furniture safety straps specifically designed to secure shelves, refrigerators, dressers, and other heavy furnishings online or at many major retail stores. Likewise, make sure mirrors and other hanging objects are securely attached to the wall with mounting brackets or security hangers.
If you’re coming home with a newborn, you won’t need to install protective electrical outlet covers or install childproof locks on cabinets right away. But it doesn’t hurt to start taking on these tasks early, especially if your disability means it might not be practical to put potentially dangerous objects like knives out of toddlers’ reach.
If you aren’t sure where to start when it comes to childproofing, some agencies provide services to help expectant parents with disabilities plan for their new addition. Services could include home visits to evaluate areas for safety purposes, lending out adaptive childcare gear for people to try, and performing follow-up visits after the child arrives.
It makes sense to schedule these services early to help avoid last-minute scrambling and stress. And, let’s face it, you certainly have more time on your hands now than you will after your little one arrives, so you should try to take care of as many of these childproofing chores as you can. Childproofing a home before a baby arrives is a challenging chore for any expectant parent, particularly if they are living with disabilities. But getting an early start and anticipating issues beforehand will help make your home safe as your infant grows into a toddler and beyond.