Play It Safe: Tips for a Low-Budget and Safe Playroom
Most playrooms are an afterthought. Parents devote hours planning and decorating babies’ nurseries but seem to lose steam once the little ones start walking and need a place to get away with their favorite toys and activities. Unless they’re the fantastic themed creations whipped up by the Trading Spaces teams, playrooms tend to spring up in spare rooms or the corners of home offices, where the old exersaucer sits in the corner next to Dad’s dusty treadmill, a pile of dress-up clothes lays in a heap near a basket full of half dressed Barbie dolls, and the furniture nobody likes anymore is scattered randomly throughout. Take a look around your play space and ask yourself, “Is it safe? Organized? Fun?”
The Lowdown on Safety
Young children are more likely to be injured in their own homes than anywhere else. A playroom should be a place you can feel comfortable leaving your child to play independently, so the first step isn’t choosing paint colors, it’s making a space that’s secure for kids of all ages.
Start by getting on your hands and knees and having a good look around. Sounds dumb but works wonders. By getting a kid’s-eye view of the room, you’ll discover sharp corners, electrical cords, and tiny toy parts that pose a choking risk to babies. While you’re down there, push on the furniture to see how steady it is and check the outlets for missing safety covers. Once you’re back on your feet, take a minute to consider the following tips:
Furniture: Old armoires, bookcases, and entertainment centers are heavy and tip easily (especially when someone is climbing up them to reach a toy), so bolt them to the wall or use straps (found in hardware stores) to secure them. Or use low shelves and colorful plastic storage containers instead. Protect those little noggins with rubber covers on sharp furniture edges and use spring-closing hinges on the lids of wooden toy boxes to protect tiny fingers.
Windows: Place large toys like hobby-horses, kitchen sets, and drawing tables away from second-story windows to minimize the risk of a fall. Ensure blind cords don’t form a deadly loop. Blind cleats, cord retractors, and other safety gadgets are available online and at home improvement stores.
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