The issue of home safety will no doubt arise the moment you discover you’re expecting a baby. You may even find yourself browsing stair gates, protective socket covers, and video monitors long before that first prenatal appointment. It’s only natural for parents’ concerns to turn towards safety as a matter of urgency; unintentional injuries that occur around the home are far more common than many people realize, with household accidents among some of the biggest killers of children across the US. It’s never too early to consider household safety, or to make the changes that will ensure your home is an ideal environment for your little ones. So, how should you go about getting started?
Top tips for safety around the home
If the idea of baby-proofing your home is giving you and your partner nightmares take a moment to gather your thoughts and breathe. Ensuring your home is safe for your baby will come as a combination of common sense and second nature, rather than requiring a qualification in health and safety.
Prior to your baby’s arrival take a wander around your home and view it from a parents’ perspective; what needs to change? What can stay as it is? Where can most risks be found? As you wander create checklist of jobs to undertake, and purchases you’d like to make, as this will prevent you from running from room to room in a panic nearer the baby’s due date. Most importantly of all, aim to baby-proof, and toddler-proof, your home now, rather than waiting until little fingers have started to reach, and curious toes have started to go where they’re not allowed. Not only will such preparation prevent accidents, it will put you into the mindset of baby safety long before trouble brews.
First thing’s first. Think about the items in each room that could cause your baby harm if he or she was to get hold of them. Cleaning chemicals, breakables, doors and windows, electrical items, uncovered sockets, and trailing wires are all potential hazards. Tackle those first with door and window latches or magnetic drawer locks, finger pinch protectors or soft close mechanisms fitted to doors and drawers, plug socket and outlet covers, and wire tidies to ensure that any cables are kept firmly out of harm’s way.
Remove all chemicals and store them safely out of reach – particularly dishwasher tablets that have been mistaken for sweets on numerous occasions. Next, attach shelving units, bookcases, and lighter furniture to the walls if you can, and aim to cover sharp corners and hard edges with corner guards and cushioned pads; as you baby learns to crawl and walk, he or she will be prone to bumping into furniture, so make such knocks as soft as you can. Finally, ensure heavier objects such as books, breakable ornaments, and kitchenware are kept on display well out of reach, and train yourselves to tidy up even the slightest spillages, or messes – and to cook using the back hobs to prevent reaching fingers from getting burned.
Keeping a watchful eye
It’s not just enough to keep harmful objects out of reach, or to fortify your home with a padded guard at every corner; making your home safe for your little one is as much about changing your habits as it is your environment. Regardless of how ably your little one is moving around, or how quickly you think you can run that errand upstairs; never leave your child alone for any period. While you may be of the opinion that no harm can come to your baby in mere seconds, statistics concerning incidents within the home state otherwise.
If you must get on with household chores aim to keep your little one entertained, and safe, by means of a playpen, or baby bouncer, moving equipment around each room with you so your baby is never alone; bouncers are particularly useful for aiding that parental bond, so do take time between jobs to get down on the floor and connect with your child. Retailer Skip Hop has a wonderful video extolling the virtues of the baby bouncer, and you’ll feel infinitely more confident in your abilities to multitask in safety if you use one.
Protecting a curious toddler
Each developmental stage of childhood brings with it new issues and challenges, least of all from a safety perspective. Stairs, steps, open doors, fires, and open windows are bound to prove tempting for a toddling child, so it’s time to up your home safety game; stair gates and fireguards will ensure hot surfaces and wide doorways are kept off limits, while doorknob locks can deter little fingers from pushing straight into a room that’s previously been off limits, and window restrictors will allow cool air through, but keep curious children in.
Now may also be the time to install a video monitor in your child’s room, enabling you to see when he or she wakes up and what that troublesome tot may be up to; as a parent you’re no doubt used to mess, but are their other more risky japes afoot?
If it will help you to achieve a completely safe home environment get down on your hands and knees and attempt to see the world from your baby’s point of view. What objects immediately stand out? Are there trailing wires, electrical hazards, or breakables close to the floor that you may not see when standing up?
Get into good habits now, and remember that the changing seasons bring further potential for danger with them; open doors and windows during the summer months, Christmas trees, hanging decorations, and breakable ornaments, and an abundance of cleaning chemicals during the spring must all be addressed, and factored into your home risk assessment. You’ll soon find yourself developing clear ideas of what’s baby-friendly and what’s not, though, and may even come to enjoy a less cluttered, safer home environment.