You’ve just moved into your new home and you want to make it the safest and happiest place possible for everyone in the family.
One of the biggest concerns parents have, is childproofing their home, especially if they have a new born baby or a toddler to raise.
There are often more hazards and dangers than you might think, and for some parents the process can seem quite scary – on top of all the other worries they might have.
Here, we’re going to demystify childproofing a home and provide you with a list of hints, tips and help so you’re on the right track. Making a home safe for your little ones needn’t be a stress if you plan properly and think ahead.
Home Hazards for Children
As adults (and homeowners) we often don’t notice hazards that might be potential problems for the littlest members of our family. Part of the problem is needing to literally get down to the level our children are at, look around and see what could raise concerns in terms of bumping, tripping, cuts, grazes or falls.
Take a look at your home room by room, walk round and see what obvious dangers there are, and then think laterally about some of the harder-to-spot signs.
There are some really obvious hazards here, like your cooker (both the oven and hob) and things that might get left out such as knives, glassware or other breakable or sharp objects.
Think about the following:
If the controls of your oven or hob are now within easy reach of your child, get special covers for them so they can’t turn anything on or accidentally lean on them and do the same.
When using your hob, get into the habit of turning pan handles away from the surface edge of the stove top. Do this even if your kids aren’t nearby, it’s a tip that really is good for children and adults too.
Electrical appliances, such as food mixers, air fryers and the like should be kept in cupboards when not in use. If you don’t have the space, keep them out on the worktop but hidden well away and unplugged when not in use. The same should really apply to kettles/toasters and microwaves. Getting into this habit will not only be safer but should save money on electricity bills too.
Products that are used for cleaning (think laundry detergents, washing up products and bleaches) should be placed in cupboards high up, as opposed to being under the sink if at all possible. If you can’t do this, consider putting the products as far to the back of the unit as possible, or placing a lock on the cupboard door itself.
If you have a kitchen diner, make sure chairs are neatly tucked under the table when not in use.
It’s basic common sense to say that babies and young children should never be left unsupervised in the bathroom, in case of accidents or mishaps with running water.
Other tips that can be utilized to make the bathroom safe include buying non slip mats to place in the bottom of baths and shower cubicles to avoid slips and slides.
Always keep the lid of the toilet down, and if possible use a toilet lock.
Any common medicines that are kept in the bathroom should be locked in a cabinet, they should be in child proof packaging and always in their original box.
The same thing applies to separate cleaning products you might use in the bathroom such as detergents and bleaches.
3. Children’s Playroom and Bedroom
Make your child’s playroom and bedroom as safe and secure as possible, this is one room where they will be spending a lot of leisure time (and hopefully sleeping) meaning there is the potential for extra hazards.
Invest in a new bed or cot, but make sure it meets compliant safety standards for your country. This is especially important if your ‘new’ bed or cot is second hand or bought from a reputable online marketplace. Safety details should be on any packaging that comes with the furniture.
If there are other items of furniture in the room that have drawers or cabinets, always keep these closed, and secure them with childproof locks if possible.
It’s a wise idea to fit safety guards on door hinges around your home, and in this room is most especially important as it’ll be a place where your offspring spend a lot of time. Safety guards stop accidents involving trapped fingers, toes or other limbs!
When considering these rooms, whilst it’s a good idea to consider the furniture, fixtures and fittings it’s also good to think about the types of toys and games that will be in the room.
It naturally depends upon the age of your baby or child but always pick toys and games that are age appropriate and will suit their abilities and interests. Games or toys that are too advanced might pose safety hazards to younger children.
Remember that children are sometimes obsessed with putting things into their mouth! For small children and babies who are still at this stage, avoid toys with small parts, which could pose a fatal choking hazard.
Don’t ever give young children small balls or balloons. A rule of thumb here is if object can fit inside the empty tube of a roll of toilet paper then it’s too small and shouldn’t ever be given as a toy.
If you’re buying cuddly or plush toys, make sure they are sturdily constructed with tightly secured parts such as eyes and nose.
Try not to opt for toys that have sharp edges and points, strings, straps, or cords longer than seven inches, these provide cutting, scratching or strangling hazards.
Once toys are opened take away plastic wrappings and dispose of them safely. Any small objects that have been put in as part of the packing process should also be disposed of carefully.
Always monitor your child and the toys the play with, and never leave them unattended. If you must leave the room, take them with you or remove hazards from them. Damaged toys should be disposed of straight away.
4. Living room
This is another room where a lot of leisure time and relaxing with the family will happen and so again, it’s important to make sure this room is safe and sound too.
It’s a good idea to put corner guards on tables or any edges of furniture to stop bumped heads and knocks.
If there is a fireplace in the room, use a fireguard that’s secure and doesn’t run the risk of toppling over.
Furniture that is free standing (think about book shelves, CD racks, and sometimes even TVs) should be fixed to walls so they can’t be accidentally pulled over, or damaged.
Socket covers should be plugged into any electrical sockets that aren’t in use. Electrical cords should either be taped to walls or fixed in place properly with cable ties.
If there is furniture that can be climbed on to reach windows, this should be moved. Windows in any room should always be locked . If you’re in a room with a window open, never leave a small child unsupervised.
This room often is the conduit to other rooms in the house, so it’s a good idea to put door stops on any doors leading to and from here. These prevent unnecessary slamming and can also stop fingers from becoming trapped.
If you have rugs in this room, consider putting slip proof mats underneath them.
If you have a glass panelled front door or porch door, make sure the glass in them is shatter resistant. The same should apply to any internal doors and back doors to the house.
The advice here seems like a lot to take in and you might even be feeling a little scared. It’s important to remember that most children will suffer from scrapes and bumps at some stage. It’s a natural part of growing up and discovering life! If they do happen try not to panic or worry too much or show your child that you are scared.
Most scrapes and bumps can be treated safely and effectively at home with simple preparations you might have to hand such as plasters, and antiseptic wipes.
Sometimes a bump or scratch might require more stringent medical attention, if so, go to your Doctor or Emergency Room for assistance.
If your child has swallowed something they should not have done, whether this be a small part from a toy, or even something more serious such as medication that was left within reach, or cleaning products, it is important you do not induce vomiting or use an emetic medication. Take your child to the Emergency Room and take any appropriate packaging or the substance they have swallowed, along with you to present to Doctors.
Utilising these tips can not only make your home safer for your little ones but can give a greater peace of mind to parents too. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
This article is provided for general information purposes only. Its content is current at the date of publication. It is not legal advice and is not tailored to meet your individual needs. You should obtain specialist advice based on your specific circumstances before taking any action concerning the matters discussed in this article.