It’s the happiest time of your life, bringing home that bundle of joy. As a parent you want the very best for your child, through every stage of their life. While there might not be a handbook on how to raise a happy child, there is a script for how to baby-proof your home, so that you can have peace of mind as they start crawling, standing and running.
If you are a first time parent or bringing home greatly anticipated siblings, these strategies will help ensure everyone is safe and settled.
Babies are naturally inquisitive and as they start to move around they can get into all sorts of mischief. We want your little one to be safe from your home and your home to be safe as well, for stress-free, great value living.
Simply saying Do Not Touch isn’t that effective when your baby is learning how the world works. Their education relies on touch, taste and deconstruction. The trap lies not just in their zealous learning strategies, but also because they live on a level we very rarely visit, the floor. That means there are countless dangers and risks we might be completely unaware of.
These strategies have been put together for you to identify and reduce the risk of harm long before your child is mobile enough to discover them.
BABY-PROOF YOUR HOME
Every home is different so while horror stories from friends or family members about the impossible things their babies have been up to are helpful, the most accurate way to baby-proof your home is to get on ground level to see the possible dangers your furniture and fitting might hide.
On hands and knees (and also flat on your stomach) look for opportunities your little one might take advantage of to get higher. Babies love elevation so look for items that can be used as a ladder or prop to stand against for support.
Test the item to see what would happen if it was used as a ladder or support. Know yourself if it could take the weight, if it moves, topples over or breaks. Look for ways a child could become wedged into it or catch arms, fingers or toes. Check if there are edges or joins that are especially hard, rough or sharp. Anything that doesn’t pass the test needs to be removed.
An example of safe item would be the arm of a couch. Usually padded, a couch is heavy enough that a climbing or exploring child wouldn’t tilt it. If the child were to fall, is the landing safe and soft? Tiles are great for crawling over but they can cause a fall to be harsh. Consider rugs under bulky furniture.
Now it’s time to look at switches. What could a crawling baby turn on, poke or take apart? Electrical points are usually especially accessible at ground level. Any exposed electrical items are to be treated carefully and need to be completely hidden or covered from inserted objects and fingers. It’s not just power points but also cords and cables for items like lamps, televisions, kettles. Cords are an easy width for a baby to hold onto and they will put all their weight onto it to pull themselves up, bringing whatever is attached to it down on their heads. Cords that run along the floor can also be chewed on or sucked. Cover cords with screw down casing that run along the skirting boards and keep all leads securely hidden and unplugged and coiled when not in use.
Doors and latches
Things that can be opened and closed are tempting to play with but can also catch and crush fragile fingers and toes.
From a low vantage point you will be able to identify desk drawers, kitchen cupboards, computer tables, entertainment units that have easy to access drawers and doors. These all need to be fixed with drawer latches.
Doors can be fitted with door safety knobs that will not only save digits from being squashed, will also deny access to rooms that are not safe or lead to outside.
Window locks are a priority as they have the added hazard of being clambered through as well as opened and closed. Glass, while it cannot be avoided altogether can be minimised by removing low sitting solid glass doors to cabinets and entertainment units.
Be sure to store all chemicals are stored in child-proof containers and are kept in high cupboards, well out of reach, even if you have cupboard locks in place, it’s better to be cautious.
You can purchase low-cost covers for power points, door and window locks, door safety knobs and furniture guards from your local hardware store. Items are lightweight and easy to self-install. It may take some getting used to move around all the baby proofing but for peace of mind, the little extra effort and time is well worth it.
Stairs are so much fun to go up, however, they do pose an issue coming down and usually end in a headfirst tumble. Very serious injuries can result, it’s therefore essential to place a baby gate across access to steps and stairs, even if it’s only a set of two or three. If you do have a staircase it’s important to gate both the top and the bottom so that the baby is protected no matter where they are in the house.
Be extra diligent with ride on toys with wheels if you have stairs, these are a dangerous combination as the wheels can all too easily glide over the edge of a landing. Consider a ban on these toys, or at the very least study gates that are meticulously locked.
When mobile, babies can move at surprising speeds and in seconds can end up out of sight and into mischief. Having gates through your home allows your baby to explore designated areas safely.
As well as keeping your baby contained in one area, a baby gate is also useful for keeping pets out of rooms so your baby can play without being bombarded.
Baby gates are great for sealing off awkward crannies where babies might bump their heads or connect with sharp objects or get into trouble around fireplaces, walk-in wardrobes and pantries (great opportunities for elevation) and laundries.
Baby-Proof Your Kitchen
Your kitchen is an important room in the house to pay special attention to when baby-proofing your home. Sharp objects, hot surfaces and lots of small objects to swallow make this a serious danger zone. The kitchen is also one of the busiest rooms in the house which makes it all the more attractive.
Make sure your baby is protected from appliances. Oven knobs are a fun toy from your child’s point of view but using them also creates high temperatures or release gas. Knob covers and an oven lock are vital guards to prevent your child from turning on the oven and climbing inside.
Just as important and press and pull fridge locks to keep your little one out of the fridge, full of slippery glass, choking hazards and risk of suffocation.
Kitchens usually have hard floors, which can cause bruising when landing. They are something wet and slippery which can be tough going when learning to walk. Interlocking foam floor panels are a great way to soften landings, are easy to wash and minimise bumps and bruises. You can interlock as many pieces are you need for your kitchen space.
Baby-Proof Your Bathroom
Bathrooms are another place in your home you need to pay extra special care of when you bring home a baby. Medications, lotions, soaps and water the potential for injury is huge if left unchecked. Luckily there are safety items available to secure your child’s safety.
Lock your cabinet with a key with a cabinet lock or a magnetic lock that snaps shut and requires considerable force to open.
To keep your child from falling into the toilet bowl a plastic toilet lock can be installed over the lid for peace of mind.
Bathroom taps can be fitted with an anti-scald device, both in the basin and the shower and or bath. With the anti-scald device, only cold water is allowed to pass through, preventing burns. These devices are installed by a plumber.
BABY SAFETY IN THE HOME
When taking your first steps to baby-proof your home, consider the method that will work best for your lifestyle. You might choose to do the whole lot in a DIY weekend, or make your way through each room over a few weeks. It is important though that you get started as soon as possible, it doesn’t take long for a baby to get mobile, and by then, you will certainly have your hands full. Take the time to do a full examination and protect your child from harm.
There is a great choice of brands and products and the prices will vary. Staff at your local baby supply shop or hardware store will be happy to talk to you about your options and help determine the best solutions for a safe home.