Homes can be full of hazards for children. It won’t matter too much in the early months when your infant’s only wriggling around, but soon enough they’ll start crawling and getting curious, and soon after that, they’ll be walking their first steps. Child-proofing your home can prevent you having to watch them like a hawk and allow your ankle biter the exploration time it needs. Here are just a few measures worth considering.
Baby-proof your bath
At first, you’ll most likely be sharing bath time with the baby, so you’ll be able to keep your infant away from dangers. Ensuring the water is not too hot or too deep (no deeper that the baby’s legs) are some basic precautions you can take. However, as your child starts getting older and you can leave them unsupervised (although it’s worth still keeping them in earshot), it may be time to install some safety features just in case. A non-slip mat in the bath can prevent kids falling over in the tub and injuring themselves. You can also get tap protectors as an extra precaution.
Keep precarious items out of reach
Children of a certain age will put anything in their mouth. A small ornament could be a choking hazard, while medicines and mothballs and toiletries could be toxic. Keep these locked away or at a level where your child can’t reach. There are then those items that could be pulled or toppled over. For example, if you’re using an ironing board, fold it up and store it away after use. Pans with handles hanging over the edge of the oven can also be a danger; position handles to the side where children can’t reach them.
Hide cords and wires
It takes a while for children to learn about trip hazards – wires and cables can be some of the worst culprits. Hide away masses of wires and cables where your children can’t reach them – it may be worth storing away extension cables and chargers when you’re not using them.
Hanging cables, clothing string pulls and curtain pulls should also be tucked away. Young children may be tempted to put them in their mouth and choke on them, or in rarer cases asphyxiate themselves. If you’re dangling items above a cot, also make sure that they’re high enough that they’re out of reach.
Use finger guards on doors
Locks and catches can be fitted everywhere from cupboard doors to washing machines – anywhere where your kids may decide to climb in and explore. Cupboards with medicine or cleaning fluids in are prime places to fit these locks and catches. On top of stopping kids getting in, catches can also stop children getting fingers trapped. Finger guards as available from companies such as Fingersafe can also be placed in the gap where the hinges are, preventing kids from poking their fingers in here as a door is opening or closing.
Safety gates and fences are a godsend. They can be used to cordon off no-go areas such as stairs or the kitchen. They can also be used to keep kids penned in an area, allowing you to do household chores and answer the phone without having to keep checking where they are at all times. Sites such as The Gate Adviser list some of the best examples on the market. Don’t just opt for low prices – read reviews so that you know you’re getting a secure and reliable gate that will thwart those crafty kids with an early talent for escapism.
Watch out for windows
Window locks are worth having simply to stop burglars getting in, but they can also have the dual purpose of stopping wondering children getting out. Babies and toddlers are unlikely to be able to get onto a window sill unless it’s relatively low, but as they get older and develop the ability to climb, these windows could become a risk. Upper floor windows are where the real danger lies – while kids know not to jump out of a window, they may still be attracted to the risk and all it takes a nasty slip while pretending to hang out the window. One option that could allow you to open these windows in the summer still while keeping kids in could be to attach window restrictors. These allow you to open the window enough for air to get in, but not enough for kids to climb out. A good company for these is Jackloc.
Minimize sharp corners
Furniture that never posed a threat before can suddenly become dangerous when children are around. This could include the sharp edges of coffee tables, chairs, and countertops that are perfect head height for a child. Cover these corners with foam protectors that will make any knock less dangerous. It’s also worth checking the garden for any sharp objects. These could include garden furniture, as well as tools (which can be locked away in a shed).
It’s possible for many pets to get along with children. Cats have a few more risks associated but can still make loving companions for children. If you have a litter tray, for example, have this in a gated off area where kids can’t go. It could also be worth putting a cat net over a cot as your feline may be tempted to crawl in and curl up with the baby. It’s worth teaching children to be considerate around any pet – teach them early not antagonize an animal by trying to grab it or be too rough with it.
Kit out your car
You may also need to child-proof your vehicle. Most modern vehicles are built with child-locks fitted on the rear doors, but not always on the passenger door. Check that your car has these child-locks and if not look into getting them fitted. Find a decent child car seat and always face it backwards so that the child is facing the chair. Don’t buy second-hand car seats as they can often have bacteria on from a previous baby and may not meet modern safety requirements.