Accidents in the home are all too common, but you can help to keep your child safe with a few simple changes.
Baby’s eye view – Take a look at what might not be child-safe in your home
At around six months your child will want to touch, feel and taste everything they can reach. This means pretty much everything below a height of four feet (OK, a six-month-old might not be able to grab something four feet off the ground, but they’ll soon be climbing or pulling objects with hanging wires down, so it’s a good idea to plan ahead). Take a look around and you will probably see lots of potential safety hazards.
These might include:
Hot surfaces like ovens, fires and radiators
Your baby’s changing areas
Your baby’s bathing areas
Electrical cords and sockets
Making your home safer – what you need to do
You can simply and quickly tame some of the typical hazards in your home. Just remember these are not fail-safe solutions and there is no substitute for close adult supervision.
Hot surfaces like ovens, fires and radiators. Your simplest option is to buy an oven, fire or radiator guard. These are low-cost and a good safety aid, though you should still keep a close eye on wandering little ones.
Your baby’s changing areas. To keep your baby safe at changing time you must never leave your baby alone on a changing unit. They can easily roll or slide off. Keep a nappy pail in the changing area for dirty nappies, so that you never need go to a bin while your changing your baby, and keep a box close at hand where you can store all those changing necessities. Options include the Boots Essentials Baby Box or a full changing unit. For extra safety, start changing on the floor once your baby's too wriggly to lie still.
Just as in your baby’s changing areas, your child should never be left alone in the bathroom. A baby can drown in less than an inch of water, so both the bath and the toilet are potential hazards. Always stay with your child during bathtime and consider fitting a toilet lock to help prevent small children from opening the toilet lid and falling in.
Stairs and doors. A guard is an effective protection against stair falls. To maximise safety, you should fit these on both the top and bottom of any stairs in your home.
Kitchen drawers and cupboards – trapping fingers in kitchen drawers is one of the most common childhood accidents in the home. Help prevent injuries with a cupboard lock.
Electrical cords and sockets – It’s easy to make electrical cords safer – just make sure they are all securely taped down (and safely tucked away so they don’t become a tripping hazard). This will stop your children pulling lamps and other electrical items down from tables above their heads. You can also invest in a cover to keep prying fingers out of plug sockets. A good option is the Boots plug socket cover.
Other safety tips
Making your baby’s play areas safer
One way to minimise the safety risks to your child is to have a secure play area, like the BabyDan Babyden. Just make sure all the toys your baby has access to are suitable for their age as small toys can be a choking hazard. This includes the toys of any older children you have (try to warn older children about the dangers of giving small toys to a baby).
Making your baby’s nursery area safer
The slats on your baby’s cot should be between 5-6 cm. apart to prevent your child's head or limbs from getting trapped.
Pillows and soft bedding can be a suffocation hazard to babies. To be safe, don’t use a pillow or duvet with children under the age of one, and remove any soft toys from your baby’s cot. Tuck your baby in under a single thin blanket with their feet at the foot of the crib. Make sure the blanket goes around the crib mattress, and reaches only as far as the baby's chest.
Always place your baby on their back to sleep. Latest research indicates a baby sleeping on their stomach increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.
Any mobiles should be taken away from your baby’s cot once your child can push up on their hands and knees. This is usually around five months.
Place your baby's cot away from any windows and make sure that there are no dangling cords.
Making your kitchen safer
Keep all cleaning products out of reach, either by keeping them in high cupboards or by using a childproof lock.
Keep all sharp kitchen utensils out of your child’s reach, either by keeping them in high cupboards over four feet, or by keeping them in a secure drawer (preferably with a lock).
When cooking, be sure that the handles of pots are facing the back of the hob or wall, and not facing out into the open kitchen. Once babies are crawling or walking they will reach for things above their heads.
Don’t heat your baby’s bottles in the microwave. Heating in the microwave tends to warm liquids unevenly, leaving hot spots. A good alternative is a digital bottle warmer, which will always give your baby’s bottle a good, even temperature. You should also remember to prepare bottles from fresh every time you feed your child. This is to help protect your baby from bacteria.
Keep your baby out of the kitchen when you’re cooking, using knives or preparing hot drinks
If your highchair doesn’t already, equip it with safety straps.
Making your living/family room safe
If you have tile or wooden floors consider slip-proof footwear once your child begins walking.
Anchor unsteady furniture, such as bookcases and TV stands, to the wall.
Consider softening table corners with cushions (you can buy cushions designed specifically to fit table corners).
Making your bathroom safe
Set your hot water to no higher than 46° Celsius to avoid scalding. (If this is impractical or you don’t wish to do this, make sure children are kept away from hot water taps. Remember, the ideal temperature for a baby’s bath is 36-38° Celsius, so you’ll still need to cool your baby’s bath water if your hot water is set to 46° Celsius.)
Unplug and store all electrical appliances, such as shavers, when not in use.
Remember to keep all medicines in a locked cupboard out of the sight and reach of children.
Fit smoke alarms on every floor and test them every week.
Fit locks to all windows.
Lock away garden tools and chemicals, fill in or fence off garden ponds and water features and check your fences and gates are secure and working, especially automatic gates. If an automatic gate doesn’t stop or reverse when it hits an object, it is a hazard to a small child and you should repair or replace the gate.
Keep floors free of toys and obstructions that can be tripped over.
Use a securely fitted safety harness in a pram, pushchair or highchair.
Supervise babies on raised surfaces.
Keep baby bouncers away from raised surfaces - they could fall off with the movement of the baby.
Remember, there is no substitute for close adult supervision. Your child should be supervised at all times.