Whether you’ve got a new baby on the way or just want to make your children’s environment as safe as possible, Emma Hammett, author and founder of First Aid For Life, explains how to baby proof your home.
As babies become mobile, they explore, and you may feel you need eyes in the back of your head trying to keep track of them. Crawling babies and toddlers are incredibly tactile and want to touch everything and, ideally, put it in their mouths, too.
Children need to take measured risks and minor bumps and bruises are inevitable. They should not be wrapped in cotton wool, but making small changes and being more risk aware will make your home considerably safer for them.
Why should you baby proof your home?
More than 100,000 children are admitted to hospital every year following accidents in the home. The most common accidents for under fours are choking, suffocation and strangulation, falls, road accidents, drowning, burns and poisoning. More accidents happen in the lounge than anywhere else in the home, but some of the most serious accidents occur in the kitchen and bathroom.
There are simple safety precautions that all households can easily adopt to minimise the risk of these potentially serious accidents.
Top tips for child proofing your home
General safety and child proofing living areas
- Place corner covers on sharp corners and use door stops to prevent doors slamming.
- Never leave chairs, large plant pots or furniture near windows, work surfaces, balconies or anywhere dangerous a baby or child could climb onto.
- Be extremely careful with hot drinks; a cup of tea that has been left to cool for 15 minutes can still be hot enough to burn a child.
- Keep small items, toys designed for older children and batteries well out of children’s sight and reach. Batteries can burn and be fatal if swallowed.
- Always adhere to age guidance for toys, and check the CE mark. Fit safety locks to windows.
- Plug socket covers are no longer recommended as they can damage the integral safety element within the socket and render it more dangerous.
- Secure furniture, in particular bookcases, chest of drawers and televisions, to the wall to prevent them toppling and crushing a child if they try to climb up them.
- Keep pets away from small babies and never leave a pet unattended with a child.
- Be careful if visitor’s handbags are left accessible to children as they could have choking hazards or tablets inside them.
Keeping safe on the stairs and hallway
- Always hold onto the bannister while carrying your baby up and down the stairs.
- Teach your baby to come down the stairs backwards.
- Fit safety gates to stairs before your baby starts crawling, and keep stairs clutter-free.
Baby proofing the kitchen
- Make sure hot drinks are kept out of reach, use a kettle with a short flex and keep it at the back of the work surface.
- Use the back rings of the cooker, and turn pan handles away from the edge.
- Children can easily mistake a dishwasher or washing machine capsule/tablet for a sweet – keep them out of site and out of reach. Cleaning products are strong alkali and burn.
- Do not hang drawstring bags over the cot, or near a cot, and tie blind cords out of reach, as these, along with necklaces, are often a cause of strangulation.
- The safest place to change your baby’s nappy is on the floor – be incredibly vigilant when using changing tables.
- Keep nappy sacks well away from babies, as they don’t have the dexterity to remove them from their faces and can suffocate very quickly.
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