Child proofing…how do I do it?

Extracted from –

One of the most important Nanny responsibilities is to make sure your charge is in a safe environment. One method used to accomplish this is by childproofing. The following checklist is meant to be a general guide for you to follow when childproofing.

Each home situation is different, and Nannies should be flexible when approaching the family in this matter.  Not every family will want to remove furniture with sharp edges when their infant begins to be mobile, just as every family may not use a bouncy seat or swing.  If you are in a Nanny position with a first-born infant, the new parents may not know all they need to childproof their home.  In this case, it is suggested that you approach the family with your ideas, presenting them in a gentle, informative way. They will appreciate you for your guidance and concern.

Checklist for Children from Birth to 4 years

In every room:

  • Child-resistant electrical outlet covers.
  • Curtain or blind cords should not hang where your charge can reach them. Shorten them or pull them higher.
  • Have smoke alarms outside every bedroom, and on each floor of the house.
  • Keep baby belted when in a bouncy seat, swing or high chair.
  • Keep all furniture away from windows—children love to climb.
  • If possible, use corner bumpers on furniture and fireplace hearth edges.
  • Be aware of the houseplants, in case your charge decides they are food to eat. Many houseplants are poisonous when ingested (See further information in the Poison Prevention module)
  • Remove the plastic end caps on doorstops or replace them with a one-piece design to prevent choking.
  • Ask parents to keep guns and ammunition safely locked away.
  • Keep cigarettes, matches and lighters out of children’s reach


  • Keep chairs and stools away from counters and the stove. Again, children love to climb, and can be harmed on the stove or perhaps find sharp knives on the counter.
  • Install child-resistant safety latches on cabinets where cleaning supplies and plastic bags are kept. There are magnetic ones available, with a ‘key’, that are quite effective. The ‘key’, which is simply a magnet that unlocks the latch, can be put up high on the refrigerator when not being used.
  • Keep knives well away from children’s reach.
  • Never leave cooking food unattended.
  • To avoid fires, have any frayed electrical cords replaced.


  • Install a child-resistant lock or latch on the medicine cabinet.
  • Keep all vitamins, supplements and medicines in the locked medicine cabinet. Small children are curious about every bottle. Buy child-resistant bottles when possible.
  • Check to be sure that the household water temperature is at or below 120 degrees, to avoid scalding. Always test the water before bathing your charge.
  • There are many non-stick appliqués available in stores, to be placed in a bathtub.
  • Never leave a young child alone in the bathroom.
  • Use electrical appliances (hair dryers, etc.) carefully around water.


  • Store tools, lawn and garden supplies and equipment in a locked closet or shed.
  • Avoid mowing the yard with a power mower when young children are present.
  • Keep children away from a chemically treated lawn for at least a day.
  • Be aware of any poisonous trees or plants in the yard, such as poison oak or ivy.
  • Families with swimming pools should have a fence separating the pool from the house. A childproof gate is also recommended, or is even prescribed by law in some locales. Never leave a child unattended in the pool or in a yard with a pool. There are alarms and whole systems available for pool owners, that can alert you if a door or gate leading to the pool is opened.
  • Never leave a barbecue grill unattended. And warn children to keep a safe distance from it when in use.

Nursery/Child’s Room:

  • The crib should be away from all drapery, windows and electrical cords.
    • The crib should meet the standards for slat-width: no more than 2 3/8 inches between them. Most new cribs today meet or exceed these guidelines.
  • Crib sheets should fit snugly, and bottom sheets only.
    • A firm bumper is preferred, with at least 6 ties. The ties should be no longer than 6 inches to prevent strangulation.
    • The crib mattress should be firm, and tight fitting in the crib. No spaces where baby can get trapped!
      • Be sure all hardware supporting the crib has not disengaged or become loose, thus endangering the baby.
      • Once your charge can reach the mobile or any hanging toys, they should be removed.
      • Children under 1 year should sleep on their backs. (See further information in Back to Sleep/SIDS Awareness)
      • If you use a night-light, it should be placed at least 3 feet away from the crib or bed.
      • Never leave baby unattended on a changing table. Even when bending to put a soiled diaper away or reaching for a fresh diaper, keep one hand on your charge.
      • Use side rails on beds for children making the change to a ‘big’ bed.
      • When children’s bedrooms are not on the ground floor, be sure to have a fire escape ladder in each room.
  • Know the fire evacuation plan. Review and practice it often with the family.

Checklist for Children 4 to 8 years old

Nannies don’t just care for infants and toddlers. Charges ages 4 to 8 are still not mature enough to use good judgment, so don’t assume you no longer need to supervise them closely. Here are a few guidelines for childproofing for older children:

  • Make bathtime safe. We know not to leave babies and toddlers alone in the tub, but many children bathe alone after 4. Experts stress that you need to be near them and be sure the water temperature is set to a maximum of 120 degrees. At this age, they are able to turn the water on and off, and need to be taught about scalding hot water.
  • Kids this age can still tumble out windows! They may also be curious about an overhang outside the windows. Keep beds and chairs away from windows. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends windows not be open more than 4 inches. There are guards and locks available to implement this safety guideline.
  • Exercise caution. Kids can get their fingers caught in exercise equipment, and free weights can drop on their toes. Warn your charge of the dangers, but the best bet is to keep the equipment in a room that is officially off-limits.
  • Children often can’t tell if they are playing too roughly with a pet. Even the most docile pet can bite if provoked. Supervision is recommended, indoors or outside.
  • Children under 10 do not have the cognitive ability to judge the speed and distance of oncoming traffic. They still lack self-control. If an ice cream truck is across the street, your charge might run to it without remembering to look both ways. Watch at all times when they are near a street.
  • Make it a house rule that children never light the stove, turn on the oven or use the microwave without an adult in the room. Unplug small appliances and coil the cords out of sight. Outlet covers are child-resistant, not childproof. There is no substitute for supervision!
  • Young children can strike matches before you expect them to, so make sure they are locked up and out of reach. A lesson or two on fire safety is not a bad idea, either.
  • Continue to store cleaning solutions, batteries, medications and other hazardous materials out of the children’s reach.
  • As much as is possible, secure high dressers and bookcases to the wall and teach your charge never to climb on furniture at a very early age.

At this age, your warnings and lessons may fall on deaf ears.  The key with children is consistency and repetition.  Make your Safety Lessons stick by offering explanations of the dangers. Work warnings into your daily routines. If you’re putting away medication, remind your charge of the danger if he or she takes too much or the wrong kind and that only an adult may give it. If you are lighting the grill, tell them that matches start fires that hurt people. Your charge won’t adopt safe habits overnight. You have to let it happen gradually, naturally. For instance, your charge may not yet be allowed to cross the street alone, but he or she may be ready to cross without holding your hand or with you just watching.

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