Baby on Abode!

We've all heard the saying that most accidents occur in the home. What we don't always remember is that the vast majority of these mishaps can be prevented with a little foresight. This is especially true for new parents when it comes to child-proofing the home.

If you just brought your little bundle of joy home, you have about five months to get your house in order. That's when the diaper hits the fan. Until that age, babies depend upon you to move them from place to place. Still, parents should take care never to leave infants unattended. Not even for a few minutes.

From four to seven months, babies become increasingly more engaged in their environment. At this age, you have to pay attention to everything located in the immediate vicinity of the baby, including what you put in their crib or play pen, and what you give them to play with. Check small toys with a choke tester to make sure they are not large enough to fit down the baby's airway. Look closely at stuffed animals for loose buttons or eyes the baby can swallow.

From seven months to a year, babies will develop physical abilities before their common sense catches up. They start to crawl, some babies walk, and others even learn to climb at an early age. Everything baby can reach is an impending hazard.

At this point, your house should be completely child-proofed with drawer and cabinet locks, toilet locks, refrigerator locks and window locks. One of the best ways to evaluate potential dangers in the home is to get down on your hands and knees and view each room as your infant does. You'll be amazed at what you can miss by not seeing the world from at baby's perspective.

Especially if you're a little sleep deprived, child-proofing your home can seem like a daunting task. It's worth it, trust us. Here is a partial list of common home hazards, and the solutions that can prevent an accident.

Cabinets and Drawers - Commercially available cabinet locks that screw inside the door/drawer with a mating catch mounted on the frame. Look at the way your cabinets are built. Some custom installations prevent less expensive locks from being used. Handle locks are available for double-door cabinets with knobs close together. Hidden "magnetic key" locks work well in these situations as well.

Appliance and Lamp Cords - Keep cords well behind end tables and night stands, out of reach of curious babies. For extra security, try affixing the cord to the furniture piece so that the appliance cannot be pulled from the table on to the baby.

Electrical Outlets – Close off outlets with plastic outlet covers. Some children figure out how to remove these, so you may have to replace these small, quarter-sized, plugs with a spring-loaded socket cover or box-type cover for outlets that have things plugged into them.

Stoves, Ovens, Dishwashers, Refrigerators - Cover or remove knobs. Locks are available that tape to the side and front of the oven or dishwasher. Stove shields are also available that block the front edge of the stove. When cooking, make sure pot handles are turned inward and don't protrude past the edge of the stove. Make sure to use a refrigerator locks.

Swinging Doors - Install a hook and eye to prevent swinging doors from accidentally closing on baby's fingers, or block the doors in the open position with a door stop.

Windows, Sliding Patio Doors – Install sash blocks on double-hung windows, a piece of chain and screw eyes on swing-out windows, and a stop in the track of sliding windows and patio doors (a block of wood cut to length will do.) A safety gate mounted inside the frame will also work for those windows close to the floor.

Decks and Railings - Deck netting and acrylic shields that fasten with plastic loops are available to block the openings between the vertical rails. Do not use chicken wire or other metal products from the building supply house - they can slice through baby fingers and toes in an instant, and they tend to rust.

Exit Doors - Door knob covers are available to prevent children from turning the door knob. Look for openings for the locking mechanism to be turned or pushed. Crystal and antique knobs present other problems if oversized.

Door Stops - The little rubber bumper pad at the end of the door stop is a particular attraction for baby, and it comes off very easily, often to be ingested. Replace your door stops with the tubular type.

Stairs - The tops of stairs present the problem of having to mount a gate with screws. Pressure-type gates generally will not work due to the nature of the sides, and an overly-energetic child can easily break through this type of barrier. Preventing your baby from accessing the stairway by securing the adjacent hall is an alternate solution.

Bathroom, Utility Room, and under the Kitchen Sink - In most households, these areas pose the highest risk of exposure to medications and poisons. It is wise to consider placing any hazardous solvents and medications behind child locks, and above the height that your child could somehow reach if the lock fails.