Your child’s room, whether he’s a newborn or a teenager, should be a safe haven for him to retreat to. Ensuring that his personal space is as safe and free from potential hazards as possible is a parent’s responsibility, and it can seem like a daunting one. While every room and every house will contain their own individual hazards and injury risks, these ten tips can help you reduce some common dangers in your child’s room.
- Use Low-VOC Paints – VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are harmful substances that evaporate from paint as it dries. Many of these are toxic to humans and can be released from the paint for years after it’s been applied, making it a dangerous choice for kids’ rooms. If you’re decorating a nursery for a brand new bundle of joy or painting your tween’s room in a new house, it’s best to opt for low-VOC paint to protect his respiratory system.
- Keep Crib Bedding Simple – Fluffy, elaborate bedding is the cornerstone of dream nurseries and is showcased prominently in decorating magazine nursery features. These soft pillows, snuggly comforters, and beautiful crib bumpers are all aesthetically pleasing, but they can also be deadly. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that bedding for babies be as simple as possible to reduce the risk of SIDS, so if you do opt for the elaborate bedding set you’ve been dreaming of, you should remove it all before putting your baby down for the night.
- Use Safety Rails on “Big Kid” Beds – When your toddler graduates to a “big kid” bed he should have safety rails on the bed until you’re absolutely sure that he won’t take any midnight tumbles. For older children with bunk beds, those rails should be in place for as long as the top bunk has any chance of being used. Even teens and young adults shouldn’t sleep in loft beds or top bunks with no safety rails.
- Install and Maintain Smoke Alarms – Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are such obvious safety measures that they can simply slip parents’ minds. Be sure that you install and maintain these alarms, changing the batteries twice each year and testing them periodically to ensure their functionality.
- Anchor Shelves and Heavy Furniture to Walls – Children will, when left to their own devices, scale shelves, chests, and dressers to reach items that are calling to them from high off the ground. Because you can’t thwart this dangerous behavior 100% of the time, it’s best to ensure that all of these pieces of furniture are securely anchored to the wall to prevent them from tipping over and falling on your child as he climbs them.
- Choose Safe Window Treatments – While you should never place a baby’s crib or a child’s bed near the window, you should still make sure that all blind cords and curtain ties are out of reach to reduce choking and strangulation risks. There are cord winders on the market specifically designed to keep window treatments kid-safe.
- Keep Toys Age-Appropriate – When a friend or relative gifts your child with an expensive or heirloom toy, it’s tempting to put it in your child’s room before he’s quite old enough to play with it. If these toys have small pieces that present a choking risk, heavy pieces that could fall on him, or moving parts that could pinch, it’s best to keep them in storage until he’s old enough for those toys to be safe for him.
- Opt For Toy Boxes With Removable Lids – Old-fashioned toy boxes with hinged lids can crush your little one’s fingers if they fall, which isn’t altogether unlikely. To keep tiny hands safe, it’s best to opt for toy boxes with lids that are completely removed.
- No Locking Doors – Your child’s room should not have a door that locks if he’s very young, to prevent him from accidentally locking you out and finding himself stranded in his bedroom alone. If his doorknob does have a working lock, you should at least ensure that you can easily and quickly pick the lock yourself from the outside. If not, the knob should be changed.
- Choose Night Lights That Stay Cool – When little ones aren’t quite comfortable in the dark, a night light can be their best friend. Some models can generate quite a bit of heat, however, leaving the bulb hot enough to scorch sensitive skin. If your child needs a night light in his room, be sure to find one that stays cool to the touch. For all outlets, remove the standard outlet plate and replace it with a protective outlet cover. This will keep unused outlets secure and will automatically slide shut when cords are unplugged.
After setting up your child’s room, it’s best to walk through it with your eyes open to any possible safety hazards. Crouch, kneel, or crawl to get on your child’s level, paying close attention to anything that he can easily reach.