Top 10 ways to baby-proof your home

How to make your home a safe environment for a baby

It can seem there a million and one things to do before your baby arrives. From buying the A-Z of baby essentials and decorating the nursery, to thinking of baby names and cleaning your home top to toe. But one of the biggest preparations a parent can make is baby-proofing the home. It is impossible to entirely baby-proof any environment, but there are many precautions you can take. Read these top 10 ways to baby-proof your home to get you started.

Top 10 ways to baby-proof your home

Toilet seat latch

Once your little one is old enough to crawl, they will become inquisitive, exploring creatures. They are curious to examine everything, and that includes the toilet – yuck! To prevent any toilet traumas, involving what seems like a slow-mo vision of your baby touching the toilet seat then licking their fingers, invest in a couple of toilet seat latches. They easily clip on to the toilet seat to prevent little fingers venturing into the germ-filled lair. They also prevent them trapping their teeny fingers, and as they’re made from plastic they are easily cleaned when you clean your toilet.

Locks on cleaning and medicine cupboards

The chemical and medicinal products stashed in your kitchen or bathroom cupboards can cause all sorts of harm to your child. From chemical burns and skin reactions, to poisoning. This is something that can be easily checked, so always make sure you either store such products high up out of an infant’s reach, or put locks on the cabinet or cupboard. The same applies to your garage and garden shed – weed killer or paint are toxic substances and can cause harm. And don’t forget your alcohol stash! Also, make sure you close your handbag or put it up on a table, especially if you have over the counter medicines like paracetamol or throat sweets that look like sweet packets. More than 28,000 children receive treatment for poisoning, or suspected poisoning accidents every year, so take precaution.

Stair gates

Falls are by far the most common accidents in the home; they account for 44 per cent of all children’s accidents, according to the Consumer Safety Unit. To prevent what is surely one of the biggest parent fears, ensure you fit a secure stair gate to the top and bottom of your staircase. Aside from children falling down the stairs, as a parent you should also take care when carrying your child on a staircase; ensure it is well-lit, clutter-free (to prevent trips), and remember to hold on to the hand rail.

Blind cords

The scary fact is that children have died from strangulation after getting tangled in blind cords in their homes. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) explains that most accidental deaths involving blind cords happen in the bedroom and occur in children between 16 months and 36 months. Avoid this risk by tying the cords up (you can buy clips for this) or changing the blind fitting altogether. However, RoSPA does not recommend that cords are cut, even as a short-term solution. Never place your child’s bed or playpen near a window and don’t forget that curtain tie-backs can also pose a risk.

Window restrictors

Having windows that can open fully are a hazard to small children who could easily escape and fall out of them. Even falling from a ground floor window can cause harm, let alone the threat of death if they fell from a height. While it is important for windows to act as fire escapes, it is essential that they have locks or restrictors fitted to stop them opening fully (these could be removed in an emergency). Do not keep chairs or easily climbable objects in front of windows to prevent small children reaching the window in the first place.

Garden ponds and plants

Children can drown in less than 3cm of water, so either cover, fence-off, or better still, fill in your garden pond altogether. All it takes is a split second and your tot could be in the water, so remove this risk fully. Another precaution to keep in mind is poisonous plants in your garden. Before your child reaches the age when they can crawl or walk, dig up any plants that are known to be poisonous as little ones love nothing more than experimenting through their mouths.

Fix freestanding furniture to the wall

Little ones see the world as their playground. A chest of drawers? The perfect climbing frame. A bookcase? A mountain that’s calling to be clambered up. While hefty pieces of furniture like this may seem sturdy, when a wobbly and excitable child is dangling from them, it’s likely they’ll topple. Be sure to fix any pieces of furniture that could pose a threat to your child (especially in their nursery or playroom) to the wall. In addition, while there are all sorts of babychanging units around, the best place to change a wriggly baby is on a mat on the floor, which they can't fall off and also gives you the reassurance to use both hands rather than keep one on baby to steady them.

Door stoppers

Little ones love playing peekaboo, and one of the ways they like to do this is through doorways. Once they learn that doors can be magically opened and closed by the slight push or pull of a hand, they will want to try their hand at it. Prevent trapped fingers or hands by fixing door stoppers to prevent the door closing fully. Of course, to reduce the risk of fire spreading, you can detach them before bedtime so that you can close each door fully.

Fireguard and fire alarm

Whether you have a gas, electric or wood/coal fire, keeping a barrier between it and your child is essential. Even if you do not use your fire, children still need to learn that they are dangerous, no-go areas. Invest in a fireguard and secure it to the wall to prevent children pulling it on top of themselves (a hazard in itself). It is also imperative that you fit fire alarms around your home. Ensure they comply with fire safety standards and test them regularly.

Socket covers and electrical appliances

Keeping those little fingers away from harmful electric currents is essential if you want a safe environment for your little one. Cover any sockets with plastic made-to-fit covers and keep any wires and electric appliances out of their site and reach. Household electrical items such as irons, electric fans and hair straighteners can pose the biggest threats, so keep them hidden away.

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