Travel Safety: Making Grandma’s House Safe for Baby

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Grandmother and Grandson Laughing

Be honest - who loves a trip to Grandma’s house more – you or the kids? They love the extra attention and little presents; you like that you have a little breathing room and an extra pair (or two) of loving eyes on your kids. Grandparents save parents thousands of dollars a year in childcare and babysitting fees. They also happen to be one of the most important and loving presences in your child’s life. But that doesn't mean you get to relax - at least not just yet.

There may be plenty of love to go around at Grandma’s house, but it’s important to remember that it’s probably been a good 20 to 30 years since they’ve raised little kids of their own. They may have done some baby-proofing and gotten the house ready, but they may be rusty compared to you. Plus, they may do things differently than you. Make sure you’re the one making Grandma’s house safe for baby – to your standards.

Grandma probably has some nice things, too. Let’s talk about making Grandma’s house baby-resistant but also about how to protect grandma’s things from baby.

Living Areas

In the safety of Grandma's arms

If you've baby-proofed your house thoroughly, you'll probably have forgotten about all the little things you've done to make sure it's safe. Take a quick look around for those accidents that are waiting to happen.

1. Do your usual check!

Here’s your checklist.

Living room and bedroom:
  • Markers for sliding glass doors
  • Finger pinch check on doors and windows
  • Window check so they don’t open so wide
  • Window lock so smaller children can’t open them
  • Doorknob covers
  • Loose cords put away
  • Protective padding for table corners
  • Loose carpeting and other tripping hazards
  • Loose banisters and railings
  • No overstuffed pillows, bedding, or soft toys
  • No large holes in headboard and footboard
  • Dressers secured
  • Lights not touching fabric
  • No rubber tips on door stops
  • Stairways, basements blocked
  • Garbage cans covered or behind lock
  • Chimney/fireplace cleaned
  • Smoke detectors tested
  • Carbon monoxide alarm tested
  • Hot water max temp at 130 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Nail clippers and razors away
  • Anti-slip pads for floor mats and bath area
  • Circuit interrupters for outlets (in case they get wet)
  • Hair dryers unplugged
  • Medicines out of reach
  • Nail polish removers, makeup out of reach
2. How secure is the TV and heavy furniture?

It’s been estimated that nearly 15,000 kids a year are injured by falling TVs and heavy furniture. Those flat screens are great for movies, but they’re also a lot more likely to tip over than their older, bulkier counterparts. Secure them or move them out of reach.

Kitchen Dangers

Kitchens are especially dangerous, and it's easy to overlook many of the most common hazards. As long as they can't burn themselves on the stove, kids will be safe, right? Wrong!

1. Can any of Grandma’s cute fridge magnets fit in baby’s mouth?

They’re so colorful and slick! Some of them look like candy. Keep them high out of reach, and take caution that you’re not trying to put so many layers of paper under them that’s they’re not securely stuck to the fridge.

2. Look out for sharp stuff!

Obviously, knives are the sharpest thing in the kitchen, but they’re not the only sharp danger. Where are the toothpicks and skewers? Are there kitchen shears? What about that fancy grater? A grown-up can run their hand down a grater with no problem, but a child’s soft skin could get caught a lot easier and get hurt a lot more. Know where these items are and get them out of reach.

3. The dishwasher is full of breakable and sharp objects.

It’s easy to forget about the dishes in the dishwasher once they’re in there. But the appliance is generally low to the ground and easily opened by toddlers. You may want to consider an inexpensive dishwasher lock.

4. Can you see any cords?

Don’t just rely on cords you see right away. Get down to kids’ eye level and see if there’s anything down there. Cords can choke, but they can also be used to grab and pull a hot appliance down onto a child. Unplug appliances that are not in use and put all cords out of reach.

5. Do you keep medicines and vitamins in the kitchen?

If so, they need to be locked up and away. Adult dosages of vitamins can be toxic to kids. And some medicines that Grandparents may be on, such as heart pills and blood pressure medicines, can enter a child’s bloodstream through the skin. Kids shouldn’t be touching these at all.

6. Are cleaning supplies in latched cabinets? What about matches and lighters?

Littler kids need to be kept away from these chemicals, period. Older toddlers and kids may benefit from a thorough walkthrough of the house that points out where they can go and what they can’t touch. Point out where the poison is and all the no-no items are.

  • Cleaning chemicals
  • Dishwashing detergents
  • Laundry soaps
  • Bug sprays
7. Can a stool or chair get them to the stove?

Make it hard for them to move chairs and stools. When cooking, turn all handles inward and try to use the back burners, where they can’t reach. Better yet, make a rule to keep them out of the kitchen altogether when there’s cooking going on.

Look at All of Grandma’s Awesome Stuff!

Grandma probably has some nice things, too. Let’s talk about making Grandma’s house baby-

1. Keep them in or keep them out: it’s your choice.

One alternative to buying baby gates to keep the baby out is to keep Grandma’s stuff in. You can use baby play yards to secure items out of baby's reach instead of putting baby in an enclosed space.

2. Nice doggie! Sweet kitty!

Grandma's pets may love her, but that doesn't mean they like youngsters. Consider where they will be, and whether they need extra supervision.

Make Sure It's Up To Standard

Where did Grandma get that car seat, high chair, and other baby safety furniture?  Sure, that stuff is expensive, and it’s hard to justify buying a second version of everything just for Grandma’s house. But remember: these items have an expiration date for a reason. Materials break down and take on wear-and-tear. Check the date on the backs of kid safety items.

We highly recommend against buying car seats used. It is illegal, first of all, and you simply do not know what type of use these items have gone through in someone else’s hands. It’s not worth the risk.

Grandma Loves Best

A Grandmothers love for her grandchild

If you make it clear what your rules are and what you expect from Grandma, it will help her out as well as keep you sane. Tell her what to feed your child and when; when to send your child to sleep; how you expect them to be disciplined; and let her know if she’s going to have extra emotional duty, such as when your child is coming down with a cold.

Get the items you need to support her and, other than that, trust her and let her love your child.

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