By nature, children are extremely curious. A baby-proof home will provide your child a safe place to explore and offer you less clutter, worry, and scolding (when your toddler revisits your breakables again and again).
I recently had the chance to chat with Inspector Mama, or as most likely know her, Carla Day. As we strolled through my home (which I quickly learned needs a lot of prep before baby number two), I was absolutely impressed by her knowledge and attention to detail.
Carla is a Registered Environmental Health Specialist with an evident passion for creating safe spaces for little ones. She believes that all conscious parents will find babyproofing (somewhat) fun and works with parents and grandparents to design babyproofing plans unique to their own homes and families. Babyproofing has reaffirmed her belief that she didn’t need so much “stuff” and that she did not have to say “no” as much if she created a home environment designed for her daughter to succeed.
Q. What is the number one issue that you find in and outside of the homes you babyproof?
A. Chemicals! As consumers, we often have so many chemicals. It is best to choose one product that can clean multiple surfaces. Even better — go the natural route and clean with vinegar.
When you do have to sanitize or disinfect, do so following the correct procedure. Store your cleaners in a locked cabinet, usually this is going to be underneath your kitchen sink. I store my chemicals in the cabinet above the refrigerator and I keep a spray bottle with vinegar under the sink to clean up spills throughout the day.
In the outside environment, it is important to remember that some plants are toxic to children and pets. Common plants that are poisonous are azaleas, rhododendron, and hydrangeas. If you have poisonous plants in your yard, you may choose to install a barrier (like a fence), remove them, or replace with nontoxic plants like forsythia and firethorns.
Q. What are your top 5 tips for successfully babyproofing a home?
1- Pick! Pick one or two rooms to baby proof. What I really mean is pick one or two rooms to design around your child with safety in mind.
2 – Declutter! Remove picture frames, lamps, trinkets, and even toiletries. This is only temporary, when your child is older you can put them back. This is a good opportunity to donate things you don’t really need.
3- Crawl! Get on your hands and knees and crawl around! What do you see? Are there outlets that need a plug? Are there cords hanging low?
4- Anchor It! It’s better to put holes in the wall and the furniture than risk something happening to your child. If you think your dresser is sturdy or the TV is high enough out of reach – it’s probably not!
5- What’s the number?! Post necessary emergency information on your fridge.
In an emergency, you want to have that right in front of you. This may include: Poison Control (800) 222-1222,, 911, parent info (name, place of work, how to reach you in an emergency), physical address, home number, allergies, and any other medical information you need.
Q. What baby-proofing gadgets should parents skip? Which ones are must-haves?
A. I have found that some high end baby products are just as effective as store brand products. Furniture anchors vary widely in price! You really don’t have to invest a small fortune in babyproofing.
As a health inspector, I’m in love with thermometers! I really wanted to purchase a spout cover thermometer, but I knew that I could just as easily check the bath water temperature with my food thermometer.
Q. Are you ever really done “babyproofing?” Do you have any recommendations to create safe spaces for older children too?
A. I don’t think you are ever really done babyproofing. As your baby gets older, there will be new safety issues like bicycle safety, water safety and driving safety!
Even if you don’t have children, having an emergency evacuation plan and shelter in place is necessary – you must know what to do in the event of an emergency and practice the routine.
Rehearsing will help children stay calm during an emergency because they will have done it before! It won’t really be a new experience for them. This could be said for adults too!
Inspector Mama is a mother to a baby goddess (her 17-month old daughter!). She is the owner of Inspector Mama, LLC and a Registered Environmental Health Specialist. She never thought that becoming a mother would allow her to harmoniously combine her passions for environmental health, public health, and maternal child health. She believes that environmental health is unique in that it is an art and a science. The analytical side of the field is concerned with the impact of the natural and man-made environment and its impact on human health. What will be done? How will this be remedied? That is where the artistic side of environmental health comes into play. The solution must be creative to meet various needs and keep human health safe.
Inspector Mama provides baby safety and childproofing consultations nationwide to ensure that all little ones can live, play, and grow in a safe home.