One of the first things to think about when converting a loft space into a nursery is the railings that run along the space. These will need to be checked for safety and baby-proofed. Measure the gap between each rail to ensure that's it's less than 2 3/8 inch wide, advises the Home Institute. A balcony railing should be sturdy and no less than 34 inches high, notes the Home Maintenance website. Never place your baby's crib or furniture near the railing, to prevent falls.
Stair and Window Safety
Babies seem drawn to stairs, so consider the safety of the stairs leading up to your loft. To prevent falls, your stairs should have handrails on each side, be well-lit and have safety gates installed at the top and the bottom, according to the Mayo Clinic. The safety gate at the top of your stairs should be attached directly to the wall. Any windows in your loft nursery will need to be locked and have safety screens or guards in place. Avoid placing anything under a window that your baby can use to crawl up to the window on.
Usually a loft is limited in space, so you may have to get creative. Opt for furniture that's multifunctional, such as a dresser that doubles as a changing table or a crib that has a built in changing table at the end. Choose baby items, such as bouncy seats and swings that can be folded for storage to take up less space when they're not being used. Take advantage of your wall space to hang shelves, diaper bags and even items such as laundry bags. Purchase collapsible baskets that you can use to store baby items in under the crib or on shelves.
Use some tricks to make the nursery look larger and more roomy. Paint the ceiling and walls light or neutral colors. Create the illusion of more space by hanging a mirror on the wall. Leave the windows uncovered or opt for light filtering blinds or window coverings to allow more light through. Make the nursery more personal by adding family photos to the walls or by having a special mural painted on the wall just for your baby.
Window Safety Devices
A window open as little as five inches is a potential danger to not only babies and toddlers but any child under 10, according to the National Safety Council. The screen itself is not strong enough to hold even young children. If your baby or toddler leans against the screen, he may fall right through to the ground below. Window safety devices make that dangerous open space inaccessible to little ones. Special window stops, which are sometimes built into the window, keep a window from opening more than a few inches. You still get fresh air without a large gap. Window guards that attach to the window frame offer another safety net. Bars go across the window with gaps four inches or smaller. The guards have a special release for an escape during a fire.
Toddlers often climb on anything that stands still. Placing furniture underneath a window gives him easy access to the opening. Always place a crib or bed on a wall without a window. Avoid placing a toy box, dresser, chest of drawers or bookshelf under the window, too, as your young child could scale it and fall out the window. You'll want to also limit your child's access to movable furniture like a step stool or rocking-chair ottoman -- your toddler could slide the item to the window to get a better view, only to fall out an open window.
The way you use windows affects the safety of your infant or toddler. Keep all windows locked when not in use. Even a young child may have the strength to slide open an unlocked window. Some double-hung windows allow you to open from the top rather than the bottom. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends using this feature when possible so the window opening is higher than your child can reach.
Your little one may not fully understand, but you can still start window safety education at an early age. Get your tot in the habit of playing in areas away from the windows. Parents need to supervise babies and toddlers during play, especially with open windows in the room. If you see your toddler climbing near the windows or pushing on the screen, use the situation as a teachable moment to reinforce window safety.
Baby safety gates and fences are designed for young children 6 months to 2 years old. When your child masters the art of opening a safety gate or has decided that it is a climbing wall, it’s time to take the gate down. At that point, the gate no longer does its job and can actually be a safety hazard.
You need the right size to get the job done properly. According to Consumer Reports, the gate or fence you choose should be at least 22 inches high and at least three-quarters the height of your child. Taller gates are better for taller toddlers. The slats on the gate or fence should be no wider than 3 inches apart to ensure that your little one’s feet and hands don’t slip through.
Strategically placed safety gates and fences can increase your home’s safety for your little one. The gate that you put at the top of the stairs needs to be hardware-mounted into the wall and positioned so it swings towards the landing, not over the stairs. The pressure-mounted gates work well between rooms and at the bottom of the stairs. However, they’re not safe enough at the top of the stairs because they may not be strong enough to stay in position when an infant or toddler leans on it. You can interlock and place safety fence sections in a room to contain an infant or toddler to one area. You can also position them around fireplaces to keep children away from those areas.
There are some other factors to consider before making your final decision. If the gate or fence is made of wood, examine it to make sure it is smooth, splinter-free and has rounded edges. Always look for a label from the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association to indicate that the gate meets safety standards. Checking with the manufacturer’s website for recalls is always a good idea, too. Stay away from accordion-style gates, especially the older models, as these may pose a safety hazard. The diamond-shaped spaces and V-shaped openings at the top are the trouble areas. If you do decide to use one of these, make sure it is new and has a horizontal rail or filler bar across the top of the gate or fence.
Install railing shields or banister shields along your baby's crib and along any stair railings where a soda can can fit through the rails or posts. Covering these openings prevents your baby from getting his limbs or neck stuck in the railing, explains SafeKids.org. Railing or banister shields are available at any major baby store and contain a long piece of mesh material that wraps around the railing to prevent your tiny one from accessing any of the dangerous gaps and openings.
Replace any pressure-fit or V-shaped railings with sturdier screw-in models. Railings that require screw-in installation are more secure, and therefore less likely to fall over or become loose, notes SafeKids.org. Railings and gates that form a sharp V when folded can potentially strangle a baby who gets her head stuck in the folding V, explains the Consumer Product and Safety Commission. Pressure-fitted, temporary railings -- those that expand lengthwise to fit snugly into either side of the wall -- can be pushed down by a baby trying to climb or pulling herself up to stand.
Remove any hanging ornaments, swings or anything else tied to a railing. Regardless of the railing height, things like hanging cords, straps, ribbon or even string can be a strangulation risk for your little one. Babies love to explore anything that hangs, swings or shines, which is why even seemingly benign decorations like tinsel or streamers can be hazardous to your curious tyke. A low-sitting swing or climbing rope hanging from an outside deck railing or second-floor indoor railing can pose similar risks.
Things You Will Need
- Railing or banister shield
- Screw-in railings
Make your railings safe before your baby has an accident or a near miss.
Remember to make every railing in the house safe, not just the ones that your baby is most likely to encounter.
Always check government recalls before using any hand-me-down equipment, including cribs and temporary railings.