"Ask Me Anything" about Infant & Toddler Safety with Holly Choi

Melanie Nanit Team
edited September 2021 in Growth & Milestones

Infant & Toddler Safety Explained

Join Holly Choi for an Ask Me Anything about Infant & Toddler Safety from September 10th through September 14th!

Co-Owner/Instructor at Safe Beginnings First Aid (@safebeginnings)

Holly Choi is a leader in childhood injury prevention education in North America. Holly is a nationally-certified first aid instructor, and a nationally certified Child Passenger Safety Technician-Instructor. Holly is a member of both the International Association for Child Safety (IAFCS) and Prevent Child Injury, and has completed additional child-focused safety training in child passenger safety and childhood burn prevention. Her extensive experience and knowledge in baby and toddler safety (first aid, car seat safety, childproofing, and injury prevention), in addition to being a mom of 2, gives her a well-rounded and unique perspective.

Follow Holly on Instagram @safebeginnings and check out her website for additional resources.


  • HollyChoi
    HollyChoi Member, Expert

    I'm looking forward to it!

  • Hi Holly! What is the safest way to travel with your baby on an airplane? Really interested in the 3-6 month range… is it best to have them in their car seat in their own seat?

  • HollyChoi
    HollyChoi Member, Expert

    @mkd929 Hi! Thank you for your question!

    The safest way to travel is in their car seat, your instinct was correct! The reality here is we're not actually concerned about a CRASH (the way we are in a car/vehicle), we're worried about TURBULENCE. When I certify new car seat technicians, I will show them a video of a snack cart in the aisle when turbulence hits - and how everything just floats (imagine in these cases you'd be dropping faster than gravity).

    While many airlines will teach parents how to 'brace' baby in their arms in the event of turbulence, in truly significant turbulence, this will not be effective. We know from the laws of physics that g-forces can make light objects feel much heavier - so a 10-15 lb baby could feel even 20x heavier in turbulence, making it impossible for us to actually hold onto them in extreme turbulence.

    With that in mind, our goal is to keep them restrained in their seat somehow. We have two ways to do that: an FAA approved car seat (harnessed car seats, not boosters - and there will be a sticker on the car seat shell that indicates it is FAA approved) or a specialty harness such as the CARES harness by Kids Fly Safe. Unfortunately, the harness won't work in this scenario because it's made for kids over age 1 and between 22-44 lbs. In your scenario, you can definitely install rear-facing on a plane - this will help small babies without neck tone maintain a safe breathing position, but also get some rest (we hope!) If you're concerned about how much space you'll have and if your car seat will fit, seatguru.com is a great resource. You can type in your flight number, see what plane your flight is on, and the dimensions of the seats.

    I always recommended printing out a copy of the airline's car seat policy off their website just-in-case, but I will say I've fortunately not run into any hassle myself when I've used car seats on a plane for my kids, both rear-facing and forward-facing.

    Lastly, RE: ticketing - most airlines require you phone in to purchase a ticket for a child under age 2. To guarantee them a seat, they'd need their own ticket. When purchasing tickets for a family of 3, with a child under 2, you'd likely only be charged for two seats for the adults if purchasing online (this definitely catches some families off guard at the airport!) The cost of an extra ticket can be a huge barrier for some families, but something to be aware of.

    Side note: the reason car seats or alternative restraints like the CARES harness are recommended instead of a baby carrier or wrap is due to the parent's movement then being involved, too. We do not want the child to be in between the parent and the seatback of the seat in the row ahead, as this could lead to injury.

    I hope that all helps 🙂

  • Hi there! We live in an apartment with radiators and exposed heating pipes, and I'm trying to figure out the safest way to cover them before they heat up in the fall. I've read that you can use some sort of fiberglass insulation over the pipes but that seems unsafe to touch as well, and any radiator covers I can find are either cheap / flimsy or too expensive. Any recommendations for something budget-friendly and safe would be helpful. Thanks so much!

  • HollyChoi
    HollyChoi Member, Expert

    Hi @sjprepg ! This is always a tough one, and something I see locally on a regular basis!

    For pipes: insulation is typically best. "Fiberglass shell pipe insulation" to wrap the pipes is most commonplace. I have seen some families use sisal rope, and commonly suggested across the internet - but I don't personally recommend this. It's effectively like putting hay against a steam pipe which in itself can present a hazard. We always try to avoid creating a hazard to fix another! The other issue with the commonly suggested rope solution is that if the rope is treated in any way, when the heat is on the heat will cause anything on the rope to off-gas (typically some type of oil treatment). I'm team insulation for those reasons!

    For radiators: covers are absolutely best. There some reliable DIY builds online if you're handy (This Old House is a trusted source and has a great tutortial). This of course takes time and can be done easily in a single day, but if you're not already a DIY'er, it's probably not the project to start with. Pre-made covers, as I'm sure you've seen, can range wildly in price; as high as $600 +. That being said, there are a few more affordable options:

    • Finchman Furniture makes some really beautiful covers in the $200-$300 range.
    • Surprisingly, Walmart (online) carries some great options closer to the $80 range.
    • Radiator covers, by design, are less complicated than other babyproofing gear (and therefore less of a risk when using second-hand). You can often find them second-hand through websites like Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist.
    • Depending on the space, sometimes using a "configure gate" (Kidco Makes these - think of a multi-sided gate that would go around a fireplace hearth).
    • When all else fails, creating a "yes" space - somewhere where baby would be safe when unattended for a while can work. For example, using a playard. However, if this is your long-term home, this solution isn't great for toddlers and I'd therefore go the cover route if at all possible.

    Have a safe and warm fall season!

  • Hi Holly-

    We are starting to baby proof and looking to buy gates to block off access to rooms and the top of the stairs. We tried gates with bars but having installation challenge so are considering mesh gates. Are mesh gates as safe and effective? Any features we should look for to have or to avoid? Are there any gates in particular you’d recommend? Thanks! Stefanie

  • What are the top rated baby proofing products?

  • 9M old LOVES climbing, we want her to be adventurous but not hurt herself. What are some recommended ways to encourage with safety being considered?

  • What is the most random thing parents forget (or doesn’t even cross their minds) to baby proof!

  • delaneystephanie
    edited September 2021

    Hi Holly! We have a 5 month old who loves rolling the distance of the room (haha) and it’s time to start baby proofing! What do you recommend for older furniture that not come with wall mount hardware?

    Additionally, do you have any recommendations for baby proofing with a floor bed? We’ll likely transition to one around 8 months.

    Thank you!

  • HollyChoi
    HollyChoi Member, Expert

    Hi @Stefanie!

    At the top of the stairs, we always want to use a hardware-mount gate. Pressure mounted gates and in many cases, retractable gates, can lead to falls when a baby or toddler puts their body weight against the gate (either knocking the gate down, or creating a space to slip through).

    At the bottom of the stairs, separating two rooms on the same level (e.g. blocking off the kitchen from the living room), or in an apartment: any of the gate types would be just fine.

    I am personally a fan of Qdos, Cardinal and KidCo gates when it comes to quality - however, if you're stuck with an install, you can find a local professional here: http://www.iafcs.org/findachildproofer.asp?fl=CHP

    Auto-closing gates are great for families that have multiple children (think: sibling forgetting to close a gate), and gates that you can operate easily with just one hand (the above mentioned brands are great for that!)

    I hope that helps :)

  • HollyChoi
    HollyChoi Member, Expert

    Hi @CLT25!

    I have lots of favorites from different brands, depending on the item/babyproofing problem we're trying to ssolve.

    In general, my go-tos are Qdos, KidCo and Safety Innovations - I have them on my recommended products list (here: https://safebeginnings.ca/ourfaves/) in the "Childproofing around the home" category.

    For example, I love Safety Innovations for their box-style outlet covers and window safety items. Qdos makes some really innovative and easy-to-use cabinet locks and gates. KidCo has a lot of great miscellaneous babyproofing items and gates.

    There's always a solution!

  • HollyChoi
    HollyChoi Member, Expert

    A mindset tool that I personally use is determining whether something is a risk or a hazard.

    A risk is something where the child could get hurt, but will also receive a benefit. For example, crossing the street (benefit: getting to the other side), climbing a tree (benefit: physical learning and development).

    A hazard is something where the child will absolutely not receive benefit. For example, not buckling a child into their car seat, a child playing with broken glass (extreme example, but you get the picture!)

    Being able to sort things into two categories for me has reduced a lot of anxiety in making these kind of decisions. My advice is to encourage the child to check in with themselves by using phrases like, "Do you feel safe?" "Do you have a plan to get down if you climb up there?" "Would you like me to stand close by so you can feel safe?" I find using those phrases vs. our instinctual "CAREFUL!" can really help a child start to consider their own safety, even as toddlers.

  • HollyChoi
    HollyChoi Member, Expert

    @Maddie2112 I would say toilets! Toilets are a huge drowning risk for toddlers, as they can get their heads in, but once their feet are off the ground, may not be able to leverage themselves out. I encourage parents to use layers of protection:

    1. at a minimum, keeping the toilet lid down when not in use
    2. installing a toilet lock, if possible (easy-to-find babyproofing item)
    3. if the door allows, installing a door **** or lever cover to prevent unattended access to the bathroom - even if potty training (hey, you're going to need to wipe their ****, regardless!)
  • HollyChoi
    HollyChoi Member, Expert

    @delaneystephanie Ah, this question made my heart sing! Anchoring furniture! Thank you for 1. recognizing the hazard and 2. wanting to do something about it!

    My go-to for aftermarket mounting hardware are furniture STRAPS - QuakeHold and Hangman are my two favorite brands. They are fixed to the back of the furniture, and then attached to studs. One the straps are secured between the furniture and the wall, they can be tightened down to limit the ability for the furniture to tip. We always use anchors/straps at least two at a time.

    Floor beds are great - the only challenge is that they're free to roam. Consider:

    1. Do I need a baby gate for the door frame? This can prevent jailbreaks if they open the door (I don't recommend "locking" a child in their room with a ****/lever cover).
    2. Are my cords all cable managed/out of reach to prevent strangulation?
    3. Are my windows unable to be opened more than 4"? (If not, install window locks)
    4. Is my furniture anchored?
    5. Are there any other potential hazards in the room I need to think about?

    If you know there's no way they can come into serious harm in the above categories, then you're able to confidently move ahead. And keeping a baby monitor in the room never hurts!

  • Hi Holly! We have an 8mo almost-crawler on our hands who loves cords. Aside from his canine sisters there is nothing he makes a b-line faster for when we put him on the ground. Do you have any recommendations for containing cords around little ones?

  • Toniandjake
    Toniandjake Member
    edited September 2021

    How do we get her to like her play yard? She loves playing on the floor, but once in her play yard, has a fuss.

  • Hi Holly,

    There is a lot of information online regarding bed sharing for infants but little information for 1-2 year olds. My son will be one next month and I’m trying to find guidelines for bed sharing safety. Is it safe to do? If so, is it okay to have pillows and blankets in the bed? I read that adult bed guard rails are only safe starting at age 2. Is rolling on top of a year old still a risk? We wouldn’t be bed sharing full time but since my son still wakes up 4+ times a night, it would be nice to bring him to bed with us if I’m really struggling to settle him back in his crib. Do you know of any studies regarding suffocation statistics due to bed sharing at this age?

    Thank you so much,


  • What age is it appropriate to introduce a lovey for naps/sleep? My 8 month old daughter loves to pull her sleep sack up to her mouth, should I just let her continue that or can I give her something to hold onto at night?

  • Hi Holly! I follow you on Instagram and you’ve got me so confident about safety already. 😊 Just a few extra questions for you!

    1. We have a exposed water heater tank in our laundry room, would you suggest making a frame around it or just using a baby gate?
    2. Where should I keep a fire extinguisher? Kitchen for sure but anywhere else for a single level home?
  • HollyChoi
    HollyChoi Member, Expert

    @seanmom21 - yes!

    Check out "Cable concealers" (can get them all sorts of places: amazon, home depot, etc). They are plastic channels that you can feed a cable through to prevent them from being pulled on from a baby. Usually easiest to run them along a baseboard to keep your home looking tidy.

  • HollyChoi
    HollyChoi Member, Expert

    Hi @Sophie! Depending on where you live, safe sleep guidelines vary. I'm based in Vancouver, BC, Canada and our safe sleep guidelines are much more relaxed than other areas of North America. Most bed rails are considered safe for ages 2+ but you have to check the warnings for the product (looking at the manual on the manufacturer website will do) for full clarity, as each product is different. For example, my 3.5 year old has KidCo bed rails that are intended for use with children over age 2. Unfortunately, it's hard to make hard and fast rules when it comes to what's safe at what age, and in general we try to be conservative because all children grow and develop differently. That being said, here are some good resources for safe sleep - the one I share from British Columbia (where I am) discusses bedsharing as it's a cultural consideration with our local population.

    United States:

    American Academy of Pediatrics - Safe Sleep Recommendations

    National recommendations for safe sleep

    Visit website


    Perinatal Services BC - Safer Infant Sleep

    BC Provincial guidelines on safe sleep

    Visit website

    Canadian Paediatric Society - Safer Sleep for Babies

    National recommendations for safe sleep

    Visit website

  • HollyChoi
    HollyChoi Member, Expert

    Hi @SarCarr ! Great question. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends keeping soft goods (stuffed animals, lovies, blankets, etc.) out of the crib until 12m+. The one caveat to this is pillows, which they recommend avoiding until age 2.

  • HollyChoi
    HollyChoi Member, Expert

    Hi @Lauren !

    A gate is great - as long as their arm can't reach the heater. We have to consider airflow around the heater, as reduced airflow could create a fire risk.

    We keep a fire extinguisher on each level of our home. In our linen closet upstairs, below our kitchen sink (this one is specifically a kitchen fire extinguisher, smaller and easier to manage for a grease fire), as well as one in our basement. We unfortunately have a windowless basement in our home, so this was a total non-negotiable for us! When you're in a single-level home, I'd recommend keeping one in your kitchen (a kitchen-specific one, if possible) and one on the opposite (or as opposite as possible) side of the home as your kitchen, so you have good coverage. (And a working smoke detector outside each bedroom, while I'm at it!)

  • Melanie
    Melanie Nanit Team

    Thank you Holly for joining us on Nanit Community! We will be hosting an AMA with Dr. Natalie Barnett starting on Monday, September 20th on safe sleep environments. We hope you'll join in on asking your safe sleep environment questions.

This discussion has been closed.