If you are an expectant parent, especially for the first time, you may not yet have given too much thought to child-proofing your home.
However, within the first few months, you might start thinking about what will happen when baby starts sitting up, reaching out, crawling, walking…climbing…the list goes on!
Our homes are potentially very hazardous places for very little people. And it only becomes apparent after their arrival..
Thankfully, as parents of five, who’ve moved between homes, we have picked up a heap of experience that we’d like to share about how to child-proof your home.
There are some things which always come straight to my mind when I think about the subject, such as those most obvious of child safety devices; the stairgate. Others, meanwhile, took a bit of revision and research!
So we put together a list of 10 key points to consider in order to ensure your home is safe for children. Of course, every home is different, old homes will be different to new ones, rural properties to city dwellings, and so on.
- Stairgates – PREVENT FALLS! Always at the forefront of our minds, especially visiting other peoples homes, are the stairs. Have appropriate gates fitted ideally at the bottom and top of the stairs.
- Furniture – SECURE IT! Possibly the most important thing to consider is what can tip over and potentially cause an accident. The TV on a stand, wardrobes and chests of drawers, bookshelves, the fridge and so on. All should be secured to walls with appropriate fixings. And even then, don’t rely on them; keep the baby supervised at all times.
- Household substances – cleaning chemicals, DIY substances, medicines – keep everything that is potentially toxic OUT OF REACH! This may involve installing cupboard locks, or moving things high up out of the way.
- Doors and furniture – you may want to put corner bumpers on items like coffee tables to prevent sharp edges hurting a crawling or toddling baby. Some doors you won’t want the baby to open, could need latches. Other doors might need keeping open so fingers can’t be slammed in them. Have a think about which needs what. There are plenty of home safety kits which contain an assortment of locks, latches and bumpers.
- Fire safety – ensure that you have fully working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms fitted and regularly tested. Also, if you have an open fire, GUARD IT with a fire guard.
- Electricals – keep wires and electrical devices out of reach of little hands. Devices such as remote controls, are favoured by small children – BEWARE OF BATTERIES! Button batteries are particularly dangerous – for example watch batteries, if ingested.
- Bathtime – if you have hot water that runs too hot, it may be worth getting it checked out, to PREVENT SCALDS if a child gets near the tap. Get into the habit of running the cold water into a bath first, then adding the hot. And never ever leave a baby unsupervised around water.
- Windows – ideally, windows will have a window restrictor to prevent a child being able to open them more than a few inches. Also, keep furniture away from window openings so that baby can’t climb up and reach the window.
- Blinds – corded blinds are dangerous. If your child’s bedroom has a blind with a looped cord, consider taking it down, or tying it up out of the way safely. Blinds now have to follow a safety standard, since 2014 which means they should either be cordless, have tensioned or concealed cords.
- Outdoors – keep gardening tools and items such as fertilizers, weedkillers, securely locked up in a safe place, preferably also high out of reach. Have a check around the garden for potential hazards, ensure the fence is in good order, and have a gate with a latch out of reach if possible. Swimming pools need to be fenced, at least 1.2m high (~4ft), with a gate which self closes.
My list isn’t exhaustive, but covers some main points and things to think about when it comes to preparing your home for the arrival of a new baby. The main thing to remember is that your baby needs constant supervision. Perhaps it may be easier to buy baby a safe place to play, such as a play pen, especially while they are young. This is a great idea for those times when you may need to concentrate on other tasks like preparing a meal.