Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Friday, September 29

Gapers Block

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One day your child is a tiny, helpless little sausage, sleeping, eating and wanting the warmth and safety of your arms. The next day, your kid is crawling through your dark hallway looking back at you over their shoulder as if to say, "Woman, do you really think turning the lights off is going to keep me out of this room?" When that day comes, you best be prepared.

While one person's version of preparation may be a box of Kleenex for the tears and a bottle of vodka for the nerves, the best preparation would be to baby-proof your home. Baby-proof? Isn't it a bit late for that? I mean, I already have a baby. Nope, I'm talking about padding your beautiful tables, putting non-skid mats under your rugs, gluing protective corners to pointy armrests and coffee tables. Kiss your designerly senses good-bye!

Think I'm kidding? My living room is a place in which ugly grey foam leeches onto barren coffee tables -- a wasteland where only matchless socks, Winnie-the-Pooh pillows and stuffed animals survive. Nice!


According to the National Safe Kids Campaign, the child accidental mortality rate hasrecently dropped almost 40 percent, and while this is impressive, we can actively work to make this number even better. So what can you do to protect your fledgling walker or crawler? While wrapping your child in a Comme des Garcon-inspired bubble wrap suit may be an appealing option, and pretty damn cool, it's not really feasible. Of course, the obvious rules in child safety apply: never leave your baby alone on the changing table or in the bathtub; invest in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors; and cover electrical outlets with plastic protectors. But what about the rest of the house?

Here are a few tips to get you started:

• Put latches on all cabinets, especially those in the kitchen which house cleansers, glassware, knives, other chemicals and plastic grocery bags and those in the bathroom which may contain items such as medications, vitamins, perfumes, razors, nail polishes and removers.

• When cooking, make sure all pot and pan handles face away from the edge of the stove and towards the back. A pokey little handle can seem very tempting for children to try to pull down, resulting in potential burns.

• Make an inventory of which houseplants are in your home. Many plants are poisonous to both children and pets. Find out if yours are.

• Pad all dangerous chair and table edges. Infants who are beginning to master the art of walking or standing somehow always end up falling onto furniture. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been thankful for our table padding.

• Children love water and nothing is more fascinating than that big ol' bowl of water in that one room with the little sink. Cell phones, toys, even their hands and head can end up in the toilet. A toilet lock will prevent that.

• Buckets with liquids can pose a great drowning hazard. Toddlers are very top heavy and it is possible for them to fall, head first, into a bucket. Children can drown in only a few inches of water and as quickly as 30 seconds.

• Make sure all rugs have a non-skid mat or double-sided tape to prevent children from tripping over them or slipping.

• Take a first-aid or infant/child CPR class.

Finally, one thing that really helped me was actually getting on the floor and crawling through the house. Having a child's eye view of the place really put things into perspective. You’d be surprised how many sharp, dirty or even electrical items look tasty or toylike when you are closer to the floor.

When we were kids, we rode bikes without helmets, ate hot dogs hand over fist before the age of two, and we would even sit in the front seat of the car -– on our parents' laps! Luckily, now we are more informed and better equipped to handle potential hazards that our children might encounter. Happy safety!


A & H Child Proofers

Safe Home Chicago

Safety Matters

Safe Kids

Illinois Poison Center

Injury Free Coalition for Kids

GB store

About the Author(s)

Alejandra Valera is a new mom and writer. If there's a baby- or kid-friendly place, product or event you think she should cover, email her at .

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