For many young families, building a home together for the first time will likely involve monthly rent payments instead of a mortgage. Considering homeownership rates are at an 18 year low and the median home price in the U.S. recently hit an eight year high, if you're among this group of renters you're certainly not alone!
If you're beginning to think about welcoming a new member into your family, and your rental, it is important to ensure your home is completely safe for your little one. Here's a look at best practices for baby proofing your apartment so that your entire family can enjoy the comforts of your home.
Prepare During The Pregnancy
Whether you're adopting, using a surrogate, in vitro or going through a natural birth, once your little one arrives you'll be handling diaper duty, midnight feedings, nap time stories and whatever else life throws your way. Take the nine months prior to your baby's arrival to conduct the search for apartments for rent in your area and get your home ready to avoid feeling overwhelmed once your new baby arrives. Make a checklist of all you need to accomplish to thoroughly baby proof your rental. As you cross each item of your list, you'll feel your stress level decrease as you move one step closer to creating a safe haven for your child.
Get In Inspector Mode
In order to make sure you don't miss a single thing that can cause harm to your baby, inspect every inch of your apartment for possible hazards including wires, outlets, strings or cords hanging from blinds and curtains, open fireplaces, hooks, and any other small, loose items your child may be curious to touch or put in their mouth. Conduct a walkthrough of your home with an objective mindset so that you do not overlook any items. It can be beneficial to enlist the help of a friend, colleague or family member who is not in your home every day to give a fresh perspective on potential hazards around your place.
As you inspect, take note of sharp corners on furniture such as coffees tables and cabinets. While your child may not be mobile as a newborn, s/he will be moving around in no time. As your child begins to crawl and learns to stand and walk, an accidental slip near a sharp corner can be harmful. Create baby-friendly spaces in your home by moving all potentially dangerous furniture to a single room which you can section off to give your baby the freedom to move around as s/he pleases. If you don't have the square footage to rearrange furniture, or can't part with particular items of furniture, cover sharp edges with safety guards. You can find safety guards that protect your child from falls at stores such as Target or Toys R Us at reasonable price points.
Think Like A Baby
While you're scanning your home for dangerous items, remember to get on a baby's level! While a glass vase on the top shelf of your bookcase can be dangerous, it is more important to check the base of the bookcase to ensure it is sturdy as that is where your baby will access the higher object from. Carefully scan each room of your home from a baby's eye level (may we suggest the not-so-pregnant member of your family take on this task) to ensure you don't miss any hazards. You'll want to look specifically for anything that can be easily opened from the ground level including cabinets, drawers, a refrigerator, even toilets. As our bookcase example demonstrates, be sure furniture is secure to the floor or wall and place all items a safe distance away from windows in the case your child is a talented climber.
After you've gathered a comprehensive list of all potential hazards around your home, it's time to implement baby-friendly solutions! Install baby gates to protect your child from staircases and any areas of your home you do not want your child to enter. It's recommended to use gates with solid panels rather than gates with bars so you don't run any risk of your child getting extremities stuck in the gate. Baby proof clips for cabinets, toilets, drawers and more, along with covers for electrical outlets can be found readily at stores including Target and Toys R Us. Be sure to read product labels carefully as you shop to make sure everything you purchase is non toxic and free of chemicals that can harm your baby. Get familiar with the recycling symbols on plastic materials as specific plastics are known to have serious consequences on a child's development and health. Lastly, ensure the items you install won't leave permanent damage to your walls, floors or appliances so that you can get your security deposit back in full upon moving out.
Relax and Enjoy!
Now that your home is completely baby proof, put your feet up, relax and enjoy this very special time in your life. Welcoming a new baby to your family is an unforgettable experience and by fully preparing your home, you'll be able to enjoy every moment with the newest member of your family once s/he arrives.