Let’s face it – Few parents know everything about childproofing their home, the outdoors and other areas. Children offer the challenge of being uniquely different from one another and many will get into trouble that others would never think about. When preparing your house to ensure your child is safe, there are a lot of options available. The task may seem overwhelming, so instead of spending a lot of time and money child-proofing their home, some parents feel that a playard is an effective way to keep their child safe. Sometimes you need to pay attention to something else, or you need both hands – this is when a playard can be helpful. Here are somethings to keep in mind when determining if a playard is a viable alternative to child-proofing your home.
While a crib is the best place for your newest addition, a playard can be an option for your little one to rest. Playard mattresses are firm to minimize the risk of suffocation, but you will want to keep blankets and bedding out of the playard so she doesn’t pull them over her head.
While a playard isn’t a great option when you bring your newborn home, it can be a huge benefit once your little one is around 3 to 6 months old. It’s at this point that she can start rolling and pushing herself up on her hands. A playard is a good option at this time, but you want to make sure there isn’t anything within her reach or above her that may create a hazard. With a playard, you can control the space she’s in and restrict the area she has to roll around.
When your baby learns how to crawl, at around 7 to 9 months, it’s a whole new scenario. The area requiring child-proofing greatly increases, as does her need to explore. If you’re going to use a playard, then make sure the floor has comfy rugs so little knees don’t get hurt. You may also want to ensure that there aren’t any hazards that she can grab and stick in her mouth or pull in on top of her. Double-check that the mesh holes aren’t too big for her to get her little hands and feet caught. She’s learning to pull up, so the playard needs to be sturdy enough to handle her weight and have a latch to prevent her from pushing it open and make a break like a jailbird. Put the playard in a central location where you can keep an eye on things, add some fun toys, and you have bought yourself some time fold laundry, answer the phone, or tidy up without worrying about her rolling into trouble.
With your toddler moving and grooving, she may no longer see a playard as a place to stay in, but rather a place to get out of. Her need to explore will begin to exceed her ability to play quietly, so you may have to endure some fussing and to cry because she wants out of her enclosed space. At this point, she may be exceeding the weight limits of the playard (usually 35 inches and 30 pounds), which can cause a tipping hazard when she leans on the side.
What’s an easy way to child-proof when your child maxes out of the playard?
There is going to come a time when your child is too large for a playard, but she still needs to be protected from her surroundings. Depending on the size of your home, there are a lot of ways to easily child-proof, taking minimal time and expense. We have some suggestions to make your home safe while not breaking the bank.
Give her a couple of “safe” rooms
A baby gate can be the easiest way to control where your little walker roams. If you sequester her to a room or a couple of rooms, then you minimize her risks. This keeps her away from the stairs, the bathroom, the kitchen, and other rooms that may cause a potential hazard. Remove the dangers from the rooms she has access to, like covering outlets, cutting window cords, and taking plants out of the room lets her have a sense of freedom, while still keeping her safe.
Lock up the dangerous stuff
If restricting your baby’s access is tricky (i.e. open floor plan), then you can lock away the stuff that can cause her harm. Either lock items (like cleaners, alcohol and sharp objects) away in a room all together, or add locks to drawers and cabinets that contain items which may be dangerous.
Walkers quickly become climbers, and furniture is usually their first playground. Anchoring cabinets, bookshelves, TV stands, and dressers to the wall keep them from toppling over when your child decides to start exploring upward. Sharp corners can also be a risk for those first wobbly months, so bumpers on the edges of tables and corners are a great way to minimize injury.
Stow away those cords and wires
If it can go in their hands, it will go in their mouth. Cables and wires are easy to grab, so secure them so pulling on them isn’t a problem. You can get covers for your surge protectors that keep out little fingers. Covering outlets ensures that objects won’t be stuck in – there are covers that automatically close when the outlet isn’t in use. Don’t forget about the window blinds. Those cords are a strangling hazard, so shorten them, attach plastic covers to the ends or use the kid-friendly wands. Whichever you choose, make sure, the baby’s crib is nowhere near the window, so she can’t grab anything and pull it towards her.
Whether you choose to child-proof your home, or use a playard as an early alternative, there is no substitution for full-time supervision. Kids are creative, particularly in the ways they can find trouble, so the best way to keep her safe while she’s awake is to have your eyes on her at all times. While a playard will work in those early months, child-proofing and a close watch on her movements is the best way to keep her safe.