Your baby’s growing – is your family getting too big for your house? If you’re getting ready to move, it’s a great opportunity to do a floor-to-ceiling check before you sign on the line or before you move all your stuff in.
Here are the top ten things to check before you move into a new house!
1. Wall paint
Was the house made before 1978? Walls may have been painted with lead paint, so get you asbestos assessment before you move your wee ones in.
If you’re doing a fresh paint on the kid’s room, opt for paints with low or no VOCs (volatile organic compounds) which could be toxic to babies. Some are cancer-causing, even in small doses.
2. Air quality
It can seem a little counterintuitive, but indoor air can be worse than outdoor air. It certainly feels less fresh sometimes, doesn’t it? That’s because it’s often getting trapped indoors with dust, toxins, fumes from cleaning or scenting products, food mold, bathroom bacteria, and a whole host of icky things.
Grab a steam cleaner and go to work on carpets and drapes. Keep aroma products to a minimum and, once you’re moved in, air out the house whenever possible.
Check the wettest parts of the house – kitchen, bathroom, basement, laundry room and wherever there’s exposure to water – and look for mold. Breathing that stuff in can cause respiratory problems and can get bad enough to induce asthma or rashes.
Before move-in, check for leaks from inside and outside sources. Fix them. Once you’re moved in, eliminate moisture (you may need vents or a dehumidifier if it’s constantly moist where it shouldn’t be), and keep things clean and dry.
4. Tap water
Do you have hard or soft water? How many toxins have snuck into your water? You can get these answers from a professional at your utility company, or you can take the safe route and install a water purifier. Once you’re moved in, best practices include flushing out first use of water by running it until it gets as cold as it’s going to get (sometimes up to and over a minute), and keeping your faucets clean.
Check the temperature as well. Make sure the hottest water tap temperature is less than 130oF.
Carpets are a soft surface for baby’s tushies, but they’re dust and dander traps. This can be more of a problem for babies because they’re more sensitive to allergens, but also because their faces are physically closer to the floor than grown-ups’.
Both new and old carpets also give off chemical fumes from the backing glues, synthetic fibers, and more. Ensure use of non-toxic carpet glues for new installs. Vacuum with high-efficiency vacuum bags that trap allergens.
6. Window locks
How easy is it for your child to unlock the window? An infant or toddler, for example, should not be able to open them at all. If you need to get kid-resistant window locks, now is the time to do it.
Open all the windows before move-in and check that none of them open far enough that your child could slip out. If they do, you may need a barrier or replacement hinges that don’t allow for such a wide opening.
7. Dangling cords
Loose cords anywhere and everywhere can be a deadly threat to active and curious kids. They look like fun, but they can entangle and choke. Check appliances and curtain cords, and get them rolled up or replaced by other mechanisms before your child has a chance to get into them. Once you’re moved in, check the cords on your small appliances and electronics. Get them out of sight and out of mind of your child.
8. Alarms and emergency items
Every year, 20,000 kids end up in the emergency room due to carbon monoxide poisoning. Is there a working carbon monoxide alarm in the home? Is there a working fire alarm? Neither is a substitute for the other – you need both.
9. Safe room for exercise equipment
If you’ve got a treadmill, stair climber, stationary bike, or other exercise equipment, make sure there is an area reserved for them that you can block off from kids. Every year, more than 25,000 children under the age of 14 are injured. The cords from equipment can cause strangulation deaths. Treadmills are especially voracious. A curious kid can start pressing buttons. Pre-programmed speeds can be too much for them to escape, and moving parts can easily grab fingers, limbs, hair, or clothing.
Keep safety clips on your equipment, unplug them when not in use, and blockade them with safety gates.
10. Household cleaning products
You’ll probably be scouring the new house before the big move. Cleaning supplies in hand, you’ll bear the fumes to get the house ready for your kids. Trouble is, those fumes and chemicals don’t just dissipate. Harsh chemicals can cause skin problems, eye irritation, allergies and respiratory problems, and even deadly poisoning.
Less caustic choices include products that are “green" and "nontoxic", or products that say, "petroleum-free," "biodegradable," "phosphate-free," "VOC-free," or "solvent-free." There are also plenty of natural alternatives for cleaning.