Childproofing your home

When you are a parent, there’s no greater horror story than when a child gets fatally injured from an accident that could have been avoided with childproofing your home.

There’s more to it than covering electrical outlets and storing cleaning products out of reach. As you know, kids love to explore, grab stuff and bring them to their mouth. So to avoid getting into a panic every time the house gets quiet, this is one area where prevention is essential.

When we are at home we should be able to relax and let our kids roam around freely. It’s just not possible to constantly be watchful. In addition, we want our children to grow into self-confident teens, and that’s not possible if they are constantly being monitored and told to be careful about everything.

With a little imagination and forward thinking, a lot of “dangers in the house” can be avoided

Childproofing your home before baby

Here’s a few helpful steps to take before welcoming your newborn home for the first time.

Smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector

Fire and hazardous levels of carbon monoxide can be lethal. If anything happens, you’ll want to be alerted right away.

It’s a good idea to get a smoke alarm installed in rooms where fire can be a risk. In addition, rooms that contain solid fuel gas or paraffin heaters should have a carbon monoxide detector.

There’s a number of options available from retailers, including alarms that combine both smoke and carbon monoxide detection. Don’t forget to check that the alarms are working properly at least once a year.

Baby monitor

This item has become an essential item for parents and for childproofing your home, the baby monitor has become a staple.

The advantage of using a baby monitor, even once your child becomes a toddler running around, is that you can be doing things in another room and be alerted right away if your child starts crying.

There’s a lot of options available, from the simple walkie-talkie style that lets you hear your baby crying right away, to the internet connected ones with a camera.

The best baby monitor is the one that will be easy to use and that will keep its charge for a long time.

A safe & cozy nursery

It is typically recommended to keep your baby sleeping in the same room as you for the first six months.

Without going into “is it safest to use a cot or let the baby sleep into your bed?” debate, there’s a few things that can keep your baby safe while spending time in its nursery or sleeping in your room.

When childproofing your home and baby’s nursery, important things to keep in mind include:

  • Keep the newborn’s bed clear from objects like pillows, blankets, bumpers and toys. There’s ample evidence that all these items can increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), so best to apply ABC or “Alone on your Back in an empty Crib.”
  • Keep the cradle away from blind or curtain cords, electric wires and plugs.
  • Toiletries like baby powder and medicine must be out of reach.
  • If you’re decorating with a mobile or hanging toy, make sure your baby can’t grab it.
  • Furniture such as bookshelves need to be properly fixed to the wall. Especially once your baby starts crawling and grabbing onto furniture to prop themselves up, you want to make sure it won’t topple over.
  • Even in winter, don’t leave a hot water bottle or electric blanket with your baby. There’s a risk for burns and fire.
  • Be mindful of baby outfits with ribbons or ties that can create a choking hazard. Likewise for bibs or pacifiers with cords to attach them to clothing.

Crawling is more fun in a childproofed home

Once your baby starts crawling around the house, there’s a lot more that you’ll need to be cautious about. Here’s a few more things to be careful with, but of course it will depend on your home.

Watch out for the stairs

If your house has stairs, even just a few steps, a stair gate is a great investment. This will let your child roam around and explore without the risk of falling down the stairs and getting hurt.

A stair gate can also come handy to restrict access to a room temporarily. For example if you’re cooking up a storm and would rather not worry about your toddler getting in the kitchen and grabbing onto hot appliances.

A bath mat is a childproofing your home basic

When there’s water involved, the risk of accidents increases. So to keep bathtime fun, get a non-slip bath mat.

A good area to place the bath mat is where your child sits and where he will try to stand. That way he can be more secure when he tries to get up.

Safety glass

If you have large glass surfaces in your home, such as windows, doors, or glass-top tables, double check they are all made from safety glass.

Should you need to childproof large glass surfaces, special safety film can be applied. This prevents sharp glass shards from getting loose if the glass breaks.

From seeing too many accidents involving glass coffee tables, it is best to put these away if you have them, at least as long as your child might jump from the sofa to the table.

Door stoppers

Getting your fingers caught in a door is extremely painful and happens quite a lot with little kids.

Using a door slam stopper is an easy way to prevent a door from squashing your child’s fingers. In addition, door slam stoppers will prevent your toddler locking themselves up in a room alone, such as the bathroom.

Latches for windows, drawers and cupboards 

If your home has windows, drawers and cupboards that are easy to reach, then childproofing your home is essential.

For windows, there’s safety locks that limit them opening more than 6 cm. This enables the window to remain open and let fresh air through, while stopping your child from falling through the window.

Likewise, there are latches for cupboards and drawers that require them to be released with pressure for the item to open.

Overtime, your child will learn how to open these latches, but in the meantime their fingers won’t get caught and food or dangerous items will be out of reach.

Stop furniture from toppling

Just like in the baby’s room, furniture that is within reach of a toddler roaming around the house needs to be safe.

Anything that can be climbed on, jumped from or used as stairs (yes even a chest of drawers), needs to be fixed to the wall to avoid it falling and injuring your child.

Heater protection

Depending on the type of heating you are using, different options are available. For electric heaters or traditional radiating heaters a cover can help protect from burns.

With an electric heater, be particularly careful with fire hazards and cords over which a toddler can trip. Best not to leave a child unattended in a room with an electric heater.

Should you have a fireplace, a fire guard should surround the entire fire area. A good fire guard is sturdy, won’t get too hot, and won’t let items be thrown over to burn (such as toys or food).

Keeping an eye out for dangerous toys

Although there are a number of regulations around toys, not all toys are safe. Generally, major toy brands will study their toy safety before marketing them, but there’s a lot of copies around and even then some toys can be an issue with toddlers.

If you are getting toys online or from discount stores, double check for any little pieces that could come off and present a choking hazard. These toys can be manufactured or sold from countries with lower safety standards.

For toys with batteries, it’s crucial that the battery compartment is secured with screws or impossible for a child to open unsupervised. There have been cases of death due to children ingesting batteries.

For more safety advice related to toy safety, the Child Accident Prevention Trust has some detailed information.

Hope these tips will help you with childproofing your home and keep you worry free! 

Want to go further? Take a look at reducing your child’s toxin exposure.

Until next time, Tania xx