Renters may need to be extra clever when setting up their space for its newest resident.
Baby-proofing your home is an essential for child safety, but it can be a bit more of a challenge in a rental. (Landlords generally disapprove of new holes in the walls, after all.)
These tips will have your rental home safe and healthy for your little ones in no time.
Corral cords and cover plugs
Electrical cords pose a safety hazard to children of all ages, so keep them tidy and out of reach. And make sure curtain and blind cords are tied up high, out of reach and well away from the floor and furniture. If you’re allowed to switch out the blinds, go for cordless products.
For electrical outlets, use plastic plug protectors, as opposed to replacing sockets. If you have power strips, purchase covers for those too.
Don’t forget that the knobs on stoves and ovens can be within reach of curious little hands. Put stove knob covers on them as a precaution.
Lock windows, doors and drawers
Luckily, there are a lot of options for door and drawer child-safety locks that won’t damage your rental property. Use these for knobs, both lever and twist, on any doors leading to exterior areas, bathrooms and kitchens where water could pose a hazard, and any other potentially dangerous areas of your house.
Make sure kitchen and bathroom cabinets (and the toilet itself) are locked. Cabinets containing cleaning chemicals are especially dangerous, so it’s best to store those items in upper level cabinets.
Purchase foam finger-pinch protectors to keep little ones from slamming their fingers in doors.
Windows, particularly those that are at child-height, pose another hazard. Move furniture away from them, especially in the child’s bedroom, and install locks if there aren’t any. Keep windows latched at all times. You can also install window guards so windows can be opened but kids can’t get — or fall— out of them.
In a rental, you may not be able to screw gates into the walls for extra safety. Gates with pressurized mounting systems can do the trick in doorways leading from one room to another. However, they should never be used at the tops of stairways, and aren’t suitable at the bottoms of stairways when there are uneven surfaces, railings or banister posts. Because of the safety factors involved, it’s best to ask your landlord for special permission to use gates that can be properly secured in these locations.
Look for the words “pressure mounted” or “no-drill.” Be sure to put baby gates at the top and bottom of all stairs; also consider putting them in the doorways to any areas where you don’t want your child to go (such as kitchens, bathrooms and pet areas).
Secure furniture and rugs
Keep in mind that babies and toddlers, especially when they are first learning to stand up and cruise, will use anything around them to help pull themselves up. Are all of your bookcases, shelving units, tables and desks stable?
It may not be possible to screw all bookcases and desks into the wall of your rental, but you can still stabilize them by taking a few extra precautions. First, make sure the furniture itself is sturdy and stable. Then remove heavy items from upper shelves which may cause the unit to become top heavy and more likely to fall down on a child.
Make sure rugs stay firmly in place with rubber rug-grip pads. And toy chests should be lidless so there is no possibility of your child becoming trapped inside.
Look down low
Get down on baby level, and see what’s around that could be dangerous. Are there loose caps on doorstops? Remove this potential choking hazard. Just stash them in a special spot so you can replace them when you move.
Keeping floors clean is easier said than done, but clean floors are a key safety issue for babies and toddlers. If an item is on the floor, chances are a little one will find it, and put it in her mouth.
Survey your home for any potentially poisonous materials. Remove any old mousetraps, ant traps or roach traps lingering from previous owners. And keep in mind that some houseplants are poisonous when ingested, so keep plants up high and away from children.
A safe home is a happy home! These precautions will help keep your child out of harm’s way — and you on your landlord’s good side.