A Grandparents' Guide to Home Child-Proofing

Whether they are coming for an afternoon or a week, taking some steps before your grandchildren arrive can help keep them safe during their visit.

Adopt any of the following precautions and guidelines that are appropriate for your young visitors' ages and abilities.

Be prepared

  • Gather essential telephone numbers ahead of time. These should include the numbers of the children's parents, their pediatrician, and your area's poison-control center.

  • If you have a gun, make sure it's not loaded. Keep it locked up and store the ammunition in a separate place.

Living areas

  • Keep small and sharp objects off the floor and out of reach.

  • Install gates on stairs. 

  • Put safety plugs in wall sockets.

  • Don't let electric cords dangle where children can reach them.

  • Lock doors that go outside, to stairs or to garages.

  • Don't leave children alone in a room with a burning fireplace or plugged-in space heater.

  • Make certain curtain and blind drawstrings are secured and out-of-reach.

  • Avoid toys with small parts. 

Kitchen

  • Use your stove's back burners and keep pot handles turned to the back of the stove.

  • Keep hot foods and drinks away from the edges of tables and counters.

  • Don't allow children under 10 to use a microwave oven.

  • Don't leave a baby alone in a highchair. Always use the safety straps.

  • Don't use tablecloths. Children can pull down plates, hot foods and liquids on themselves.

  • Keep cleaning products, knives, matches, and plastic bags out of reach.

Bathroom

  • Don't leave children in the tub or shower. Small children can drown in two inches of water within seconds.

  • Keep medicines, vitamins, and soap where they can't be reached. Buy medicines with child-safety caps.

  • Always check the bath-water temperature with your hand before putting children into the tub.

  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist about the best way to dispose of old medications. Do not toss them in the wastebasket.

Your bedroom

  • Don't keep any medications, vitamins, or other medicines on or in your bedside table. Children often swallow pills because they look like candy. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, grandparents' medications account for nearly 20 percent of drug ingestions by children.

A baby's bedroom

  • Be sure to check that any older baby gear you will be using has not been recalled. In particular, many older cribs are no longer considered safe. 

  • Keep the crib away from window blinds and drapery cords.

  • Put the baby to sleep on his or her back in a crib with a flat, firm mattress with no soft bedding underneath. No pillows, blankets, toys, or bumpers should be in the crib. These measures reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.

  • Make sure the baby's room is not too warm. 

In case of emergency 

Take the following steps if a grandchild swallows something dangerous or is burned or injured in any other way:

  • Call 911 or your community's emergency medical response number.

  • Call the child's parents.

  • Call the child's pediatrician.