For most people, apartment living translates into “How do I make the most of the space I have?” Maximizing the vertical space by stacking objects, using tall shelving units and bookcases is one common way. But since children love to climb and get to things out of their reach, be sure all unstable furniture, especially front-heavy furniture (a child’s dresser with all the drawers pulled out simultaneously and leaned on), and lightweight furnishings (i.e. floor lamps) are properly anchored to the wall even if the walls are plaster.
- Renters are often reluctant to employ baby proofing techniques. But keep in mind your child’s safety is your most important concern. Most baby proofing solutions are discreet, removable, portable, non-invasive and there are ways to make your home safer that won’t be an issue for you when you move out.
- You will want to be sure your front door lock is out of reach. It’s a good habit to lock the top lock at all times so that a toddler cannot turn the knob and leave the apartment. The same applies if you have a terrace door.
- If you live in a building that has three or more apartments and a child 10 years old and under lives in your apartment, even if you live on the first floor, the law in NYC states that window guards must be installed on all operable windows (except windows leading to fire escapes). Your building’s owner or superintendent – not you – must install window guards on those windows. For more information about window guards visit www.nyc.gov/health.
- Children should be taught not to throw objects out the window or from an open-rail terrace which can be dangerous to unsuspecting pedestrians on the street. Until children are old enough to understand the dangers, open windows only from the top, use window screens and be sure there are no small items accessible on an open-rail terrace. If your terrace has slat openings greater than 4” or horizontal bars that can be climbed up on, you should have the rails affixed with Plexiglas or Lexan panels to increase the overall safety when a child is on the terrace. Remember: never leave a child unattended, even for a second, on a terrace.
- It is not uncommon for many downtown lofts to have a building elevator which opens directly into the apartment space --- safeguard the elevator buttons and have a gate installed to prevent a child from leaving the apartment. If you have a service elevator entrance in the apartment, heed the same precautions.
- Have a dog? Be diligent about keeping dog leashes out of reach (many pet owners keep the dog leash on a door knob) which really entices young children to wrap it around their neck; remember children mimic what they see. Be sure your dog walker is aware of this hazard too.
- Some older style buildings have hot water risers in the apartment. When the heat is turned on (usually from Oct. 15- through April 15) these pipes get extremely hot to the touch and can easily cause a burn. Keep children away from and consider wrapping the riser with heat resistant, non-fiberglass protection.
- Do not place a crib near windows or adjacent to other furniture. For more information on crib safety, visit www.cribsafety.org or www.firstcandle.org.
- Litter boxes and pet food need to be kept safely out of reach of young children. Oftentimes a second bathroom, a hall closet or a corner is used for litter boxes. You will want to keep this space off limits to children and properly restricted.
- Window cords, kitchen wall telephones, equipment wires under desks, cell phone and laptop chargers, etc. must always be out of reach so that a young child does not bite into a live electrical wire or wrap a cord around their neck.
- NYC streets are filthy --- shoes, stroller wheels and more enter and exit the house everyday and if your child is crawling around on the floor, those little fingers usually go in their mouths. We are not suggesting you become neurotic, a germaphobe or a clean freak but we do want you to think about things differently and keep the spaces where young children spend time exploring clean and healthy.
- Many NYC apartments have galley kitchens, not a place a child should be in, gating off the kitchen can make your life a little easier and will keep your youngster out of harm’s way of the many dangers often found in small, city kitchens.
- Have a spacious, open, floor plan loft? This style apartment provides great free flowing space for children to play, explore and wander freely which is nice when the weather gets frigid and you are indoors more of the time. For these spaces be sure your child is always in your sight. You may want to section off certain areas by closing doors or creating a separate play area.
- Living in NYC, virtually everything gets delivered. Food, dry cleaning, online purchases, etc. --- many of which come to your home in plastic bags and/or other protective materials. Plastic and children are not good combinations. We suggest properly disposing of all plastic ideally before you bring it into the house. The danger to a child is if they put a dry cleaning bag up to their mouth, the plastic can very easily create a seal and inhibit them from breathing.
- Whatever style apartment you have, check to see if the columns/decorative baseboard moldings have hard edges or corners. If so, they can be softened with protective edge/corner cushions so your child does not run into one and injure him/herself. Similarly, many typical NYC apartments have metal radiator covers with very hard corners that should be covered with a corner cushion. With that said, Baby Proofers Plus does not advocate or recommend creating a “padded cell” or going overboard when it comes to baby proofing. Get to know your living space from the perspective of a child and everyone will cohabitate just fine --- in a safe, healthy, aesthetically-pleasing, child-friendly home.
Of course, no measure of child safety is a substitute for vigilant supervision but your parenting life can be so much easier and less stressful raising a baby in a NYC apartment with the proper precautions.