When a baby joins the family, it often feels like every room in your home transforms into a playroom. Add a second or third child, and the critical mass of underfoot toys multiplies. Reclaim your house by making one room or small area into the playroom or play area. Even more important than helping you stay organized, you’ll be creating a special environment that’s safe and kid-friendly. Try these tips from www.ConsumerReports.org:
Organize the room. When you’re having a tough day, just getting the toys put away seems like a major accomplishment. Organization is the key to making it easier. As a first step in organizing the playroom, get on your hands and knees and try to see the room from your child’s perspective. This will help you determine how best to store his toys as well as identify the potential dangers in the playroom. Organize the room so your child can easily reach his toys, eliminating the temptation to climb to get something he wants and allowing him to safely explore his space. Lots of handy storage makes it easy to put toys away where no one can trip over them.
Make toys accessible. When storing toys, use baskets, buckets, or other containers that allow your child to easily reach inside to pull out what she needs. Be sure the toys in these containers are age-appropriate for all of your children. A 6-month-old should not share toys that are for a 2-year-old because of the danger to the younger child from small toy parts that could pose a choking hazard.
Make organizing fun. You can turn the job of organizing a playroom into a fun project for you and your child. It’s simple: Buy some sturdy plastic containers with lids that snap closed. Working together, fill the containers with different items, such as books in one, toy cars in another, and toy animals in another. Next, look in magazines for photos of the items in your containers and cut them out. Using glue labeled “nontoxic,” “washable,” or “for school use,” attach the photos onto the corresponding containers. Glue is recommended only for kids over 5, so make sure you’re supervising younger children. For other easy storage alternatives, use baskets or open bins.
Don’t tempt fate by placing your young child’s toys and games on high shelves or ledges in the playroom. It’s more than likely that he will figure out how to climb up to get them, with potentially deadly results. If he is allowed to have the toys, store them within his reach. If he shouldn’t have them, keep them out of sight.
Beware of hinged lids. Toy chests or storage bins with hinged lids can fall on your child’s head or neck, trapping her or causing serious injury. And children have been known to crawl into these chests and suffocate while trapped inside. If you have a toy chest, or any chest, with a freely falling hinged lid, the safest thing you can do is remove the lid entirely. Or, you can add a lid support; heavy lids may require two. A lid support will keep the lid of the toy chest open in any position you choose. You can purchase a chest with a lid support or one that has hinges that support the lid, or you can install a lid support or two yourself. Check them frequently to ensure they are still in good working order and that they do indeed work in any position. Remember to check, tighten, and adjust as necessary.
Don’t use these recalled chests. In 1996, 12 million cedar chests made by Lane and Virginia Maid were recalled after six children became trapped inside and suffocated because the lids automatically latched when closed. The chests were made between 1912 and 1987, and many have been handed down as heirlooms, and they can still be found at yard sales or in secondhand stores. Even since this recall there have been two near fatalities and one fatal accident. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Lane are still working to recall these chests. As a remedy, Lane is providing new locks for the old chests that will prevent entrapment, and the company will provide assistance to anyone who needs help installing the new lock. To find out if you have a Lane chest that has been recalled and to request a lock replacement, check the Lane Web site at www.lanefurniture.com and click on “customer care.”