Bringing a child into the world is a big commitment and one that just keeps on growing along with the child. For the first couple of months, it may seem that dealing with a child is easy. After all, when you put them down they tend to stay in one place.
However, even newborns require a lot of baby proofing.
“You have to have
breathable safety bumpers in the crib, the safety netting, there are just so many different aspects of safety,” says Donna Daije of Little Darlings.
Most of the early baby safety planning revolves around mitigating the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.
“SIDS is a really great concern, at least up to the age of one. Within the first six months it is terrible. You can’t have loose blankets all over the crib, you can’t have pillows,” says Daije.
Baby monitors are also an important part of early safety planning.
However, once the rolling, and especially the crawling, start, things become considerably more complicated. No longer can you trust that something is safe just because it is out of arms reach, and this is when the hard work of child proofing your home begins.
Depending on how stylish your living space is, this can be quite a traumatic experience. All those clean lines and sharp corners can suddenly become rather too dangerous for the young one, not to mention the lure of power cords, cabinets, drawers and all manner of other distractions that could lead to destruction.
“We have corner cushions for furniture and for coffee tables we have the full bumper that goes right around the coffee table,” says Daije.
Parents can even purchase a Thudguard, a head guard for babies to help protect them from the inevitable collision with objects or the floor.
One of the most important steps in child safety is to see to it that any substances that could be harmful to a child are under lock and key. For many, this means doing something about all the cleaning products and assorted chemicals that inevitably seem to reside under the kitchen sink. This is an especially big problem in open plan homes, where it might not be possible to separate the kitchen from the living area with a simple child gate.
Fortunately there are various ways of making cabinets and drawers child proof, many of which do not require doing any permanent damage to your cabinets. After all, when it comes to selling your home, unsightly child proofing will probably not add to the sales appeal. The only thing worse would be hastily patched holes in the cabinets where the child proofing used to be drilled into the cabinets.
According to Daije, it is also important to remember the danger that can be caused by appliances, so oven locks and refrigerator locks are every bit as important as cabinet and drawer safety.
It might also be a good idea to take a new look at what is stored where in your kitchen, and move potentially dangerous items like knives, glassware and cleaning products into drawers or cupboards beyond your child’s reach.
For areas of the home that are off limits to children, the solution could be as simple as closing the door. If no door is present, fitting a gate with a child-proof mechanism can be a very good solution as well. Just keep in mind that the child proof mechanisms can occasionally prove to be quite a challenge to adults as well, as anyone who has ever tried to operate the child proof lid on a bottle of headache tablets whilst in need of the tablets inside can clearly attest. Where possible, place the gate away from high traffic areas and move any items that should remain out of reach to an area behind the gate.
Of course in homes with stairs, controlling access to the stairs should be a priority as well.
Once a baby is mobile, it is also very important to see to it that no small items are left on the floor, as coins and beads can pose a choking hazard to small children. As purses tend to contain a cornucopia of small objects and could also contain medication that should be kept well out of baby’s reach, it is important that these be placed in an inaccessible spot, with the straps tucked away safely.
Another element easily overlooked is the danger posed by toilets. Once a child can pull itself upright, the risk of the lid falling and injuring the child becomes very important. The toilet can even pose a drowning hazard should the child pitch forward and fall in, as young children tend to be somewhat top heavy, and as the toilet not the most sanitary place in the home, you probably don’t want children treating it as a water feature either. It is therefore important to fit a latch to the toilet in order to prevent it from posing a hazard.
Any cords, whether related to window treatments or electrical equipment, can prove very dangerous. Especially dangerous are any looped cords, as can often by found on window blinds. Although most modern blinds to not use such cords due to the strangulation risk, some homes may still have older blinds that include such cords. In these cases, it might be preferable to either use a cord shortener to keep the cord out of reach of the child, or cut the cord so it no longer poses a strangulation risk. Electrical cords should be positioned out of reach and behind furniture wherever possible.
Book shelves can also pose a hazard, as these can occasionally be somewhat top heavy and need to be fixed to the wall with furniture straps to ensure that children do not tip the shelves over when trying to pull themselves upright.
As children develop, child proofing in the home needs to develop with them. The best tip for parents is to place themselves at the child’s level and explore their living space. Then take action to secure any dangers and always stay one step ahead of the child, for change can come quickly.