Nine things you need to consider when choosing a home if you have a toddler

It’s not too tricky caring for a tiny baby. After all, their needs are often met quite easily (food, clean nappies, warmth, sleep and cuddles).

But once your tiny baby grows into an adventurous toddler, and discovers the joys of exploring their environment, it’s a whole different ball game!

No more putting your baby down, and expecting them to still be there when you turn around again. Instead, you need to out-think your toddler and take extreme measures to try to keep them safe. This means looking at everything from a toddler’s point of view, and childproofing your home.

So what if you’re currently house or apartment hunting, whether it’s to rent or buy? What do you need to bear in mind when finding a home you’ll love that’s also safe and nurturing for your toddler? Here are nine things you need to consider before putting in an offer or signing an agreement.

1) Toxicity

One of the first things you need to clarify is whether the house or apartment has been checked for harmful substances. Every place of residence should be free of mold, mercury, carbon monoxide, asbestos, lead, and radon.

2) Floor and walls

Make sure the paint is lead-free. It shouldn’t be cracked or peeling. Check the walls for nails that have not been pulled out. With toddlers who are just learning to walk or those who are constantly in a state of motion, the flooring shouldn’t be slippery.

3) Pool safety

It’s great to have a pool close by. But if you have toddlers, make sure that the pool area is enclosed by a fence that is at least five feet (1.5 meters) high. The self-closing gate should have a childproof lock. If the pool is accessible through your home, install a door alarm. If it’s elevated, remove the ladder when not in use.

4) Playgrounds

Whether it’s your backyard or a playground in the apartment complex, be sure that playground equipment is securely fastened, rust-free, and have no sharp edges. Soft materials should be used in this area to absorb the shock of a fall leading to injuries. The area should be well lit and properly maintained.

You should also make sure that there are no cracks or missing pieces in the concrete steps or sidewalk that could cause your toddler to trip while walking.

5) Outdoor safety

Toddlers have a habit of getting into everything. So make sure that any home you’re interested in has a locked area or garage for storing tools and products used for maintenance, pool care, gardening, and lawn work.

Recycling bins and garbage cans should always be covered.  If the complex has laundry chutes, make sure they have childproof locks.

6) Local services

If course, when you move into a new home, you won’t be trapped inside all day. So you’ll need to check out the local neighbourhood before committing.

Many neighborhoods have their own libraries. Toddlers are quick learners, so having a library within walking distance is an added benefit. So if you’re searching for apartments for rent in Mountain View, CA, for example, it’s wise to inquire if the apartments are close to a children’s library.

It’s also handy to have a local store, doctor’s surgery and playgroup or nursery within walking distance. And if you plan to stay there a few years, then take a look at the local schools too.

And finally, what opportunities are there to meet other local parents? Your child will thrive with playmates on their doorstep, and having friends close by is good for your mental health too.

7) Doors and windows

To toddlers, doors and windows are potential escape routes. So make sure that there are safety bars on upper-story windows and balconies. Sliding doors tend to be problematic as toddlers often mistake them for open doors. To avoid this issue, you can mark the doors with decorative stickers.

8) Furniture

Toddlers love to climb objects, and have a tendency to explore any closed cabinet they find. And sadly, this can often lead to tragic accidents. So if you have any large, bulky furniture such as bookshelves, chests of drawers or cupboards, secure them to the walk.

If you’re renting, you’ll need to ask your landlord’s permission before you drill holes into the wall. And if the property is furnished, also ask if you can attach childproof latches to any cabinets.

9) Stairs

Is there adequate lighting in the stairway? If there is carpeting, make sure it’s fitted properly. The railings and banisters should be secure as well. Check this by making sure that your toddler doesn’t fit through the spaces between them. Some complexes have special gates attached to every stairway.

Photo by bady qb