How to baby-proof your home and keep your little adventurer safe
Is your child starting to walk around and explore its new home? Then you’ll need to start thinking about providing a safe environment for your brave little adventurer.
The first 12 months of a baby’s life are action-packed with milestones and - keen not to miss an ounce of action - most parents find themselves binge-watching their newborn in those early days.
You wait with bated breath for those special moments when your baby mutters its first word, when he’s able to sit up unaided and when he starts to crawl. But, perhaps the most exciting hurdle is when he takes his first steps unsupported. And at playgroup, the battle of the parents really intensifies, with everyone willing their child to be the one who masters the art before its peers. Trust me, I’ve been there.
A brave new world
Once your toddler is on the go, the goalposts change. He’s gone from an expert crawler to a walker (even if he is a doddering novice for a while) but, as research shows, walking will take him farther faster than crawling and, let’s face it, he’s going from here to there in a blink of an eye. And, now being upright, your child can open the cabinets, clear the coffee table with one swipe, and remove books from the shelves - to mention but a few acts of chaos.
He will also demonstrate a remarkable ability to scale furniture and be able to get into things you don’t even remember you have. It’s impossible to watch him like a hawk at all times and consequently, you’re concerned that your home isn’t child-friendly and that you’re exposing him to danger.
And you’re right to be so - child-safety in the home is not something to be taken lightly. According to RoSPA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents), children under the age of five are most likely to have an accident at home, with 44% of accidents - a staggering 58,000 children - involving falls on the stairs.
More mishaps happen in the living room than anywhere else in the home, yet the most serious ones occur in the kitchen, affecting 43,000 children aged between zero and four years (an average of 13 children a day suffer a severe injury from a burn or a scald).
Creating a safe home environment
So, what can be done to alleviate your concerns? As tempting as it might be, try to avoid rushing out to the closest DIY shop and spending a small fortune on safety equipment – this can be frustrating, time-consuming, and you may well end up with the wrong items. Furthermore, installing baby gates, cabinet latches, and furniture straps correctly can be challenging for any home owner. Do your research, speak to friends, and seek professional advice if necessary.
Neither do you need to redesign your home at vast expense and go drilling unsightly holes into your designer walls - a bugbear shared by many of Chris Jones’s clients who approach his company Baby Safe Homes for baby proofing services. His trained consultants will come to your house, recommend specialised safety products and provide professional same day installation, ultimately saving you time, money and costly damage.
According to Chris, there are a few simple measures that can be put in place temporarily to address the most hazardous of them all. He advises that you should think about child proofing before your baby even arrives and certainly before it starts crawling.
“As a first time parent, you’ll naturally be unfamiliar with what you need to do and when you need do it, so the earlier you’re prepared, the better. One of the most common concerns is falling down stairs and, at the same time, trying to balance these worries without causing permanent damage to walls and woodwork.”
Interestingly, he highlights things that aren’t often on a parent’s radar when contemplating potential hazards, such as a changing table which, if not attached to a wall by a furniture strap, could tip over when a drawer below the platform is opened. And don’t forget to anchor other heavy, floor-standing items, bookshelves being just one example.
One device, he warns - which most parents believe poses a risk and in fact doesn’t - is a plug socket. ”It’s the cover which is dangerous to small children, not the socket. What you’re actually doing is giving your child a tool that will allow them to open up the live conductors,” he says.
Despite the marketplace being swamped with all types of gadgets and fancy inventions, no one wants to scare parents. Children do need to learn what they can and cannot play with, and what they should and shouldn’t touch. When it comes to deciding what changes you might need to introduce to make you home child proof, common sense is an essential ingredient. But ultimately, it’s a personal choice – do what is right for you and your family.
Fit a safety gate at the top and bottom of stairs.
Never leave tripping hazards on the stairs.
Stairs should be carefully maintained - damaged or worn carpet should be repaired or removed.
If railings have openings wider than 6.5cm, block them with plastic garden fencing, Plexiglass, or other.
Make sure balustrades are strong and do not have any footholds for climbing.
Handrails should be set at a minimum height of 90cm on stairs and landings.
Keep knives, breakables, heavy pans, and other dangerous items out of reach.
Use doorstops to protect your baby’s fingers.
Hide electrical cords.
Keep kettles, toasters, hair dryers, and other appliances unplugged and out of reach.
Where necessary, install window guards on windows.
Install a fireguard and keep in place when a fire is burning.
Check that your blinds comply with safety regulations – all blinds sold in the UK should be cordless, or have tensioned or concealed cords.
This article was written by Philippa Hennessy, an award-winning lifestyle and travel writer and blogger.