Living with a toddler is mostly just trying to keep them alive, to be honest.
Behind that cute grin is a fierce determination that, yes, they WILL bust into that bathroom drawer and eat its delicious contents, whatever they may be. That far-off look in their round, sweet eyes is actually a calculated plan to turn the dial on the stove when you're not looking. And god help you if they've already figured out how to climb over the baby gates.
Constant. Vigilance. Is. Required.
And while most parents know they should baby-proof their homes to help prevent accidents, they might not realize just how crucial this one baby-proofing item is: child door locks. And not just for actual doors (although that's also important), but for cupboards and drawers, too.
"Safety locks are quite important ... toddlers will get into everything," Andy Brisebois, the president of the Children's Health and Safety Association, told HuffPost Canada in a phone interview.
"If they can access it, it should be locked."
The risks are scary
Injuries are the leading cause of death among children age one to 14 years old, and a major cause of disability, according to the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS). Most serious or fatal injuries in the home happen in the kitchen and the bathroom, CPS noted.
Kitchen and bathroom doors and cupboards hold all kinds of dangers for toddlers, including medications, cleaning products, plastic bags, garbage, choking hazards, and sharp items such as knives and scissors.
In the kitchen, oven and dishwasher doors should remain closed, CPS said. Sharp or pointy objects should be kept in a latched drawer or out of reach. Latch the door to the kitchen garbage. Latch any doors that contains cleaning products, Brisebois added. Cutlery should be kept in latched drawers, and locks should be put on the stove dials, he said.
"Kids can turn the thing on. It's just a button," Brisebois said.
"Anything that's accessible to them, they will look into it."
In the bathroom, keep the toilet lid and cupboards latched, CPS said. All cleaning products, personal products, and tools (such as shaving equipment or curling irons) should be kept high or out of reach. And install a hook-and-eye latch on the outside of the door "so it's always closed when not in use. Install the latch at the top of the door so an older child cannot reach it," CPS said on its "Caring For Kids" website.
Doors should be locked or latched
In their basic home safety checklist, CPS recommends that parents install child-resistant door handle covers, especially for rooms with hazards, and exit doors.
The dangers with doors are two-fold, according to the website Parent Guide. More obvious is that a child can gain access to an area that's unsafe without supervision (such as a storage room, bathroom, the outdoors, or a flight of stairs outside their bedroom). But a less obvious danger is the door itself, its hinges, and the possibility of pinching little fingers.
"'A closing door? This room is boring. Charge!' I am pretty confident that this is exactly what goes through your child's head when they see a closing door. Usually, the first thing to enter the gap of a closing door are fingers. Ouch!" Parent Guide author "Jess" writes.
A u-shaped pinch guard is the best way to prevent pinched fingers, according to Parent Guide.
Tall toddlers can reach door handles before they understand not to open them
If your toddler is tall enough to reach door handles or low locks, especially on exit doors, install another lock such as a safety chain higher up, Brisebois said.
"Today's kids are very tall, they grow very quickly, and they may not have the maturity to know not to unlock the door and go unnoticed outside," he said.
Windows and balcony doors are another serious danger, according to the Children's Health and Safety Association, adding that falling is the leading cause of hospitalization for children. Balcony doors should always have a childproof lock, the association noted, and keep windows above the first storey locked or install window safety devices.
"Do not assume an unlocked window is childproof," the Children's Health and Safety Association said on its website.
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