Childproofing for Twins and Multiples

Protecting Your Twins -- and Your Home

Justin and Austin
You never know what we'll get into next!. Photo reprinted with permission of Tammy.

Having twins or multiples brings some big changes to your life. One thing that will never be the same is your home. At first, you’ll encounter a proliferation of baby equipment, times two. While Graco and Evenflo might not be your first choice for home décor, their presence can’t be avoided when you’re hosting multiple infants. Then, as your multiples become mobile, your home becomes their playground.

The pristine showcase you enjoyed prior to their arrival just won't hold up to a team of destructo-twins. To protect your home, and to protect your children, you're going to have to do make some changes.

Most parents are aware of standard childproofing recommendations. But parents of multiples need to intensify their efforts and takethings to a new level. Remember the old saying, "Two heads are better than one."? With twins, there are four hands for reaching and pulling, four feet for climbing and running, and two creative brains for finding the loopholes in your safety precautions. And if two can outdo one, just imagine what destruction a team of triplets, quadruplets or more can accomplish!

You can't elminate every single possible danger in your home; your goal is to minimize the risks for accidents or damage. Here are some tips.

Put Aways

  • Store your valuables. If you care about it and don’t want it ruined, then put it away, out of your multiples’ reach. Store everything breakable or irreplaceable. There's always time for knickknacks when your twins are grown. Don’t take chances.
  • Stash your hazards. Keep all toxic chemicals -- cleaning products, paints, medications, etc. -- out of reach. Don't just move them to higher ground, but be sure the storage location has a lock or other obstacle. Multiples are (in)famous for devising ways to climb higher than their singleton counterparts.
  • Protect your electronics as well as your toddlers. Don’t use unsteady shelves or stands to store televisions or stereos; they can topple or tilt if toddlers try to pull up on them.
  • Besides hazardous liquids, be sure to secure other items that can hurt curious kids, such as knives, medications, sharp scissors, and matches. Use drawer and cabinet locks to prevent access to these items.

Avoid Ouchies

  • Get a kid’s-eye view of your house. Check out the view from the floor where your multiples play and try to anticipate every potentially appealing hazard. Are there electrical cords or outlets in reach? Small pieces or parts of furniture that could come loose? Cover all outlets and secure cords.
  • Avoid accidental scalding by lowering the setting on your hot water heater. Anti-scald devices can be installed on faucets, but still test water temperature before letting little ones near running water.
  • Watch for sharp edges. Many bumps, bruises and cuts are caused by the sharp edges of furniture or walls, especially for unsteady toddlers. Remove furniture with sharp edges, and use bumpers or pillows to soften the blow of fireplace hearths or table corners.
  • Window guards can prevent accidental falls, but should be easily removable by adults in the event of an emergency. Don’t place furniture near windows; it’s too tempting to little climbers who want to take in the view.
  • Twins and multiples will climb anything, including each other, in an attempt to get what they're after. Try to anticipate and eliminate any apparatus that can create stair steps for toddler climbers; secure dresser drawers, bookcases, shelves, even dining room chairs.
  • Use gates and guards to keep kids from falling down the stairs, and don’t forget to block off the bottom of the stair case as well. While most falls occur at the top, plenty of kids fall after trying to climb up from the bottom and falling back down. Protect railings and banisters as well.

Hidden Hazards

  • Cords on window blinds present a strangulation hazard. Keep cords short and inaccessible, or contain cords with cord stops.
  • Appliance latches prevent access to your dishwasher, refrigerator, or oven. Use stove guards to protect the controls to your range to keep it from being turned on by aspiring toddler chefs.
  • Secure throw rugs. They are decorative, but can be dangerous for your multiples. Unsteady toddlers can trip on them; speed demon preschoolers can skid on them. Roll them up and store them until your multiples are older, or use non-skid pads to secure them.
  • Protect your multiples, your plumbing and your precious valuables by securing all the toilets in the home. Toilet locks keep the lid closed, removing the temptation to play in the water, or to throw something in and flush it away!
  • Inspect your home for lead-based paint. Homes built before the 1980’s may contain leaded paint that can be harmful if ingested or inhaled as lead dust that is generated as the paint deteriorates over time. Kits are available for testing the lead levels in the home. Replace, cover or remove sources of lead-based paint in the home.

Be Prepared

  • Outfit your home for fire safety. Install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors and keep them maintained. Develop an evacuation plan for your home in the event of a fire, especially if you have multiple infants or toddlers that can’ get out of the house on their own. Review the plan with babysitters and caregivers.
  • Be prepared in case of an emergency. Learn infant/child CPR. Post important phone numbers for your doctor, hospital and poison control throughout the house, preferably near every home.
  • You might find it helpful to establish a place within your home that can be secured and freed of all possible hazards. It may be a playpen or crib for younger toddlers, or a play yard or gated room for older ones. You can use this safe zone when you need a moment of peace, to answer a phone call or use the restroom.

Having to “redecorate” your home with these childproofing strategies may seem inconvenient. But these changes are temporary, and the results are worthwhile. As your twins and multiples get older, you’ll be able to dispense with the cabinet locks and gates. You can bring back your knickknacks and houseplants without fear that they’ll be subjected to twin torture. But in the meantime, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

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