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How to Effectively Baby-proof a new House

How to Effectively Baby-proof a new House

When you’re a parent even the smallest lifestyle changes can seem daunting. You’re no longer able to think like a young student without a care in the world, and you definitely can’t make impulsive decisions. For young couples, moving to a new home is a fairly straightforward affair – you find a house that you both like, make sure to inspect for little problems, pack up your things, move and clean up before moving on to interior decorating.

Sure, there are still a lot of mistakes you’ll want to avoid when buying your first house, but things get a lot more complicated when you have a baby. After making sure that everything is in order, and you’ve bought the house, it’s time to start an extensive baby-proofing project. There will be a lot of tricks you’ll pick up along the way, but you’ll need to tackle the most glaring safety issues first. Let’s go over some of the most important areas that you have to cover.

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The Nursery

This is the place where the baby is most vulnerable, as it is the only place where you’ll leave the little rascal unsupervised for longer periods of time. There are several basic safety issues to consider here:

  • Make sure that the crib is structurally sound and up to safety standards
  • Avoid placing toys, blankets and pillows in the crib until the baby is at least 7 months old
  • Make sure everything is tucked in tightly, including the baby, and make sure the baby sleeps on her back
  • Use open shelves and add a thick rug
  • Go for age-appropriate toys and keep them in a big open box
  • Install plastic locks and pinch guards where needed
  • Have a good baby monitor near the crib
  • Throw some pillows on the floor

The nursery should be a place of rest and fun, so it’s best to go for a minimalist approach when it comes to furniture, and keep everything soft and fluffy. Apart from a few basic precautions, it won’t take much work to get this room to the highest safety standards.

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The Kitchen

You’ll probably find the kitchen to be the most dangerous place for a baby in the entire house. There are tons of sharp or easily breakable objects, chemicals, cabinet doors that swing open and so on. Here are a few big safety improvements you can make right now:

  • Install plastic cabinet and drawer locks
  • Keep all your cleaning products up on the highest shelf in the cabinet
  • Move all the knives and sharp objects, as well as plastic bags higher up
  • Glassware should be kept out of the way, with only plastic containers, cups and plates on the lower shelves and in low cabinets
  • Unplug all equipment when not in use, and keep the cables out of the way
  • Use plastic knob covers and locks on the oven and stove
  • Buy a baby seat that straps firmly onto a chair and secures the baby in place

As long as you plan smart and cover all the bases, you won’t need to spend much to baby-proof the kitchen, but you’ll need to set some boundaries as well. Let the child know that some things are off limits, and have additional safeties in place, just in case. There are tons of useful books on parenting, and regular reading has all kinds of added benefits, so be sure to do plenty of research – you can’t just rely on safety equipment to keep your baby out of harm’s way.

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The Living Room

The biggest problem with the living room, as far as baby safety is concerned, is that there are all sorts of things to trip over and bump into. To make the living room a much safer place for your little bundle of joy, make sure to take the following precautions:

  • Move the furniture around so that there is plenty of open space for the baby to crawl and run around
  • Add a thick rug to help cushion falls
  • Use plastic covers to smooth out the edges and corners of tables, desks and other furniture
  • Make sure that there are no chairs or shelves near the windows, and avoid leaving the windows wide open
  • Big flat screen TV’s need to be wall mounted or firmly secured on a quality stand, as they are easy to push over
  • Keep remotes and other small objects up high, and have a dummy remote or smartphone that the baby can play with safely
  • Install safety gates, particular around staircases
  • Anchor bookcases to the wall, and keep heavier items and baby toys on the lower shelves, but avoid placing small decorations like snow globes and figurines high up, because they can fall on the baby
  • If there is a fireplace, cover it with a screen and keep the firewood out of reach
  • Install cordless blinds

With a little bit of work, you can make any living room reasonably safe, but don’t let that lull you into a false sense of security – always keep a watchful eye on the baby.

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The Bathroom

Since babies go to the bathroom in their pants, and multiple times a day at that, you won’t be spending too much time in the actual bathroom, but there are still a few precautions that you should take:

  • Get a decent thermometer to ensure that the water is just the right temperature when preparing for a bath
  • Remove shower curtains or get them out of the way
  • You should keep the baby on the end of the tub furthest from the faucet
  • If you only have a walk-in shower, get a plastic baby bath
  • Put a plastic lock on the toilet and all the cabinets
  • Store all electrical equipment out of sight, preferably locked in a cabinet

All in all, you should probably keep the bathroom off limits by simply locking the door, but you’ll need to have these additional safety measures in place as well.

These tips are definitely something that all new parents and homeowners should look into, but don’t let the fact that it takes plenty of work to raise a family discourage you, because as they say: “Nobody ever said life was easy… they just promised that it would be worth it.”

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Nemanja Manojlovic

Editor at MyCity Web

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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

Signs of Depression in Children (And How to Help Them to Overcome It)

Signs of Depression in Children (And How to Help Them to Overcome It)

Children, just like adults, can be depressed. Sometimes seemingly normal children with no major life issues can become depressed. It is the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain that causes clinical depression to occur. There are specific signs that you should recognize in your child if they are depressed. Getting them help and treatment is crucial to their mental wellness.

In this article, we will look into the signs of depression in children and how parents can help them to overcome it.

Signs of depression in children

The DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder) is the widely accepted instruction guide that professionals utilize for diagnosing mental disorders. The DSM characterizes a Major Depressive Episode as depressed behaviors that consistently last for two weeks or longer. Therefore, if your child has been “down in the dumps”, feeling hopeless or having sadness for more than two weeks, it should be cause for concern and investigated.

Below are signs of depression according to the DSM manual. The individual must have at least five of these behaviors present for a period of two weeks or longer to be officially diagnosed as having MDD (Major Depressive Disorder). Below is a summary/generalization from the DSM manual:

  • Feelings of deep sadness or depressed mood that last most of the day (for two weeks or more). For children they can present as irritable rather than sad.
  • Diminished interest in activities (again majority of the day or all the time).
  • Significant weight loss (not through dieting), or a decrease in appetite. In children, they fail to make expected weight gains while growing.
  • Difficulty sleeping (insomnia).
  • Either a slowing of psychomotor abilities/actions or an apparent agitation of these psychomotor abilities. This means that they either have moments that lack purpose and seem to be done because of agitation and tension or there is a significant slowness/retardation of their speech and physical actions.
  • Fatigue and loss of energy.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt every day.
  • Difficulty thinking, making decisions, or concentrating every day. This may be reflected in their grades.
  • Preoccupation with death and dying or suicidal thoughts.

Please note that if your child is suffering from the loss of a loved one and is processing through the stages of grief, it is normal to have these signs of depression. If they seem to be stuck in the depression stage, then it is time to pursue grief counseling to help them along in the grieving process.

However, if they are not suffering from a bereavement or a medical condition that would cause the above symptoms, then they should be taken to a professional for possible diagnosis and treatment of MDD (Major Depressive Disorder).

How to help your child with depression

Depression is not to be taken lightly. Especially if suicidal thoughts are present. The child’s feelings and emotions are real and must be taken seriously. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), suicide is the number two cause of death for individuals between the ages of 10 and 34.[1]

Professional help is recommended if you believe your child fits the criterion for MDD (Major Depressive Disorder). You can take your child to their paediatrician for an evaluation and referral. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, they may benefit from medication such as anti-depressants.

Most professionals do not dispense medication as the first remedy for depression. Instead therapy is the first line of defense against depression, with medication being paired with therapy if the therapy is not enough or the symptoms are severe enough.

Testing

There are assessment tools that professionals can utilize to help in properly determining whether your child is depressed. The three tools used in assessing depression in children are:

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  • The Children’s Depression Rating Scale (CDRS)
  • Children’s Depression Inventory (CDI)
  • Clinical Global Impression (CGI)

Taking your child to a professional mental health counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist can help ensure proper testing and assessment occurs.

Therapy

There are many types of therapy available today. It is important to find a professional that specializes in childhood depression and the treatment of such.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the leading therapy methods in treating childhood depression. For younger children, play therapy is useful in treating childhood depression as children are often able to better communicate through play than conversation alone.

What parents can do at home to help their depressed child

Besides seeking for professional help, there are a couple of things that parents can do at home to help their depressed child:

1. Talk with your child about their feelings in a compassionate and empathetic manner.

It can feel high pressure to sit face to face and ask your child about their feelings. However, going on a walk, playing a board game or playing alongside your child (chose whichever is age appropriate for your child) can allow them to relax and open up about their feelings.

Ask your child open ended questions that require more than a simple yes or no to engage in more meaningful conversations. Never judge while they are being open and honest with you because it will inevitably cause them to shut down and move away from being open with you.

It is okay to allow for periods of silence during the conversations because sometimes the child is processing their thoughts and emotions during your time together. You don’t have to fill the space and entire time with talking as silence at times is helpful.

2. Provide activities that help them relax and de-stress.

For smaller children, there are simple ways to help them relax.

Provide play opportunities that they find relaxing such as coloring, painting, working with Play-do or clay, or playing with sand and sand toys. Again, find activities that interest your child and are age appropriate are helpful in making them relaxed.

3. Limit screen time.

Technology is not helpful in making your child less depressed. It can often be an escape that keeps them from further opening up about their feelings and emotions.

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Limit time in front of the TV, laptop, smart phone, video games and tablets, etc. Any electronics that seem to prevent your child from face to face interactions should be limited. Ask Dr. Sears cites that researchers have found kids who have higher levels of screen time are at greater risk for anxiety and depression.[2]

Provide alternate activities to replace the screen time such as hiking, crafting, drawing, constructing, biking and playing outside, etc. Some children may be so dependent on their screen time as their source for entertainment that they may need you to participate in alternate activities alongside them in order to get engaged in the activities.

You can’t simply tell your child to go outside to play if they are suffering from depression, lack friends and are used to sitting down and playing video games each day after school. Go outside with your child and do a nature hike or take your child to a playground and have fun together to get them engaged in these alternate activities.

4. Promote outdoor time and physical activities.

Encourage your children to take part in activities that especially involve nature such as nature hikes. Do these activities with them to help them engage in the activities. Again this is an opportunity for open conversations to occur and quality time to take place.

5. Help your child when problems and difficult tasks arise.

Assist them by helping them break down the task into smaller and more manageable parts. Children with depression often have difficulty taking on large problems and tasks and find them overwhelming. Helping them by breaking down the task into smaller and more manageable tasks will assist in helping raise their confidence when the small tasks are mastered.

Small tasks mastered lead to bigger tasks being mastered over time. It is a process over time, patience and a willingness to work alongside your child. This does not mean doing the task or taking on the problem solely yourself. Many times all the child needs is for you to break down the larger task into smaller more manageable tasks and for you to patiently talk your child through the completion of these smaller tasks.

6. Help your child reduce life stress.

When children are depressed, they have greater difficulty handling life activities in general. Cut back on activities that cause stress to increase and look for ways to help reduce stress in your child’s life.

7. Foster a positive home atmosphere.

Reduce or eliminate negative attitudes, language and conversations. Also avoid raised voices, passive aggressive behaviors and any form of physical violence in the home.

Make your home a safe haven for your child instead of an atmosphere that is ever volatile (in words, emotions or physically). Make it a calm environment that makes your child feel safe and secure mentally, emotionally and physically.

8. Help your child see the positive in life situations.

Point out the positives in a situation rather than the negatives. Help them see the bright side of any situation.

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Be a model of seeing the positive in life by speaking words that are uplifting, encouraging and positive. Resist the temptation to voice negative thoughts that come to mind as your child can feed off your emotions and words.

9. Believe your child when they talk about how they are feeling.

Listen to them patiently and take their words seriously. Do not discount or minimize their feelings. Express empathy and compassion when they do open up about their feelings. Help them utilize “I feel” statements in expressing their emotions.

10. Keep watch for suicidal behaviors.

Such behaviors include your child/teen researching this topic online, them giving away their possessions and a preoccupation with death.

Seek professional help immediately with the presentation of suicidal behaviors or thoughts. Keep this number on hand and use it when in doubt: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Phone Number 1-800-273-8255.

11. Keep all prescriptions, alcohol, drugs and weapons locked and away from children and teens.

This is a given for all children, but even more imperative for children who are depressed as they have an increased likelihood to abuse drugs and alcohol. They also have an increased likelihood to attempt suicide. So keep weapons and tools such as ropes and knives that can used for suicide out of the child’s ability to use.

12. Spend quality one-on-one time with your child.

Make the time during your day, every day, to spend quality time with your child. You may have limited time and cannot provide an hour or more a day to dedicate to one-on-one time with your child, but you should provide a minimum of 20 minutes a day with your child spending quality one-on-one time together. Try the suggested activities listed in point #3.

13. Be an encouragement and supporter of your child.

Show love and not frustration or anger because of the situation and your child’s condition. Help keep your attitude positive so your child can also see the positive.

Provide daily words of affirmation that are not based on end results (such as a grade or a win) but instead praise the effort they put forth. If you praise the outcome, they will be disappointed when their efforts don’t pan out. If they are praised for their efforts regardless of the outcome, their confidence is built based upon something that they can control (the effort they put into things).

14. Help your child to live a healthy lifestyle.

Sleep is a very important factor in your child’s mood. Not getting enough sleep can cause an entire day to be upset. According to Sleep Aid Resource, children between the ages of 3 and 18 need between 8 and 12 hours of sleep each night:[3]

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    Ensure your child is eating a healthy and balanced diet, getting physical activity/exercise daily and plenty of sleep time.

    15. Help your child foster positive relationships and friendships with their peers.

    Set up play dates for your younger child and encourage older children to invite friends over to your home.

    16. Talk about bullying.

    It can be one of the causes of your child’s depression, so discuss their life outside of home and their interactions with their peers. Help them recognize bullying and discuss how to handle bullying properly.

    17. Help your child follow the treatment plan outlined by their doctor, counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist.

    Make sure you know the treatment plan that your child’s health care professional has outlined for child. This may include counseling session recommendations, medications and recommendations to follow through with in the home. Completing the plan will help provide optimal results for your child in the long run. A plan doesn’t work unless it is followed.

    18. Recognize that professional treatment takes time to show results.

    Don’t expect results for the first few weeks. It may take a month or longer, so be patient and understanding with your child.

    Depression in children is curable

    Depression in children can happen for a variety of reasons. It is quite treatable.

    Professional help is recommended if your child can possibly be diagnosed with a depressive episode. There are interventions that can be implemented in a professional setting, at home and at school. The key is having a plan of action to help your child.

    Ignoring the problem or hoping the depression will just go away is not a good plan. Treatment is imperative to curing depression in children.

    The first step is talking to your child’s paediatrician to get the ball rolling. He or she will refer you to specialists in your area that can help your child overcome and conquer their depression one day at a time. With you by their side, each step of the way you will get through it together and it is quite possible for your relationship with your child to be strengthened in the process as well. That can be your silver lining or positive outlook on the situation at hand.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] National Institute of Mental Health: Suicide
    [2] Ask Dr. Sears: It’s a Virtual World: Setting Practical Screen Time Limits
    [3] Sleep Aid Resource: Sleep Chart

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