Pearls of Wisdom: Childproofing Your Home

Children are explorers by nature and are naturally curious about the world around them. They can’t wait to explore by putting objects in their mouths. The minute they become ambulatory, parents need to take extra attention to childproofing their homes, making sure harmful items are out of reach, and locked up .

Some of the items that have to be put away from their reach are cleaning products such as bleach, detergents, drain openers, toilet bowl cleaners and  furniture polish. Detergents in single-use packets are very concentrated and can be toxic even if a small amount is ingested causing eye irritation, stomach problems or problems breathing. Remember to seal the container and store this in a locked cabinet after use. Even better, keep this container out of sight and reach. It is best to store items such as antifreeze, windshield wiper fluids, kerosene, and insecticides in the basement or garage, preferably in a high shelf that is out of your child’s reach. Even cosmetics, mouthwash, nail polish removers and perfumes should be stored in a cabinet that has a lock. Certain plants are harmful and you may want to do without houseplants for a while. The poison control hotline (1800-222-1222) can provide you with a list of description of plants that may pose a risk to your toddler.

Child ProofMost poisonings occur when parents, babysitters or caregivers are home but not paying attention. Keep products in their original packaging. Install a safety latch  on child accessible cabinets. Also keep in mind that children may get into trash containers. Usually, these contain spoiled food, sharp objects such as discarded used razor blades, or batteries therefore buy a trash can with a child-resistant cover or keep the trash out of your child’s reach.

Purses and pocketbooks that hold potential hazards, especially medications should also be kept out of child’s reach. Purchase and keep medicine in their original bottles with safety caps. When administering medications, always check the label multiple times to ensure proper dosage. Keep in mind that even simple Acetaminophen (or Tylenol) if given in the wrong dose could pose serious damage to your child’s liver. Alcohol can also be very poisonous to a young child. Just remember to empty out any unfinished drinks right away.

Because they are choking hazards, small objects including beads, buttons, coins, pins, refrigerator magnets, small toys with screws and especially button batteries should be out of your child’s reach. Check your floors regularly for small objects especially if there are any family members  who  have a hobby that uses small items. Make sure the battery covers on musical books, greeting cards, key fobs, and remote controls are secure. Button batteries look pretty harmless but can cause serious injuries and even death if ingested.


In case you find your child with an open or empty container of a dangerous item, assume that he has been poisoned.  Do not panic, stay calm and act quickly. Take the item away from him and check for any objects still in his mouth. You can either make him spit it out or you can remove it with your fingers in a sweeping motion. Save this item together with anything else that can help identify what your child swallowed. Do not make him vomit because this could cause more problems. If your child is unconscious, pale or blue , not breathing , or having seizures, call 911 immediately. If your child appears fine, call Poison Help and you will be assisted by a poison expert who is available 24/7. Make sure you have all the information available e.g. medications he is taking, any existing medical conditions, name of item swallowed and the time of the incident (or when you found him) . In case the poison is very toxic, you may be instructed to take him to the ER. However, if your child is not in danger, the Poison Help staff will guide you on what to do to help your child at home.


All information contained in this blog and on our web site(s) should be independently verified by you by a medical professional of your own choosing and you should always conduct your own research and due diligence before making any decision related to the subject matter of this blog or our web site. 

Dr. Pearl CenonDr. Pearl

A pediatrician in private practice in New Jersey for over 15 years, Dr. Cenon (we like to call her Dr. Pearl) also has two children of her own. Dr. Pearl’s husband, Kevin McDonough is also a pediatrician and they work together. She writes basic posts about topics that interest many parents, from skin care and nutrition to seasonal issues, such as allergies and colds. Her kind, approachable tone in each blog post will have you looking forward to the next one.