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Now your toddler’s on the move, should you seal off the stairs, or put the dog up for adoption? Writer & dad Stuart Heritage gives us the lowdown on childproofing your home
So, your baby is mobile. Welcome to the worst part of parenting. For the next couple of years you’ll find yourself on constant red alert, spotting hazards that can be grabbed or spilled or broken or toppled off. But if you’re panicking about what a deathtrap your house is (and it is – according to The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, more than 30,000 under-fives every year are admitted for treatment following an accident in and around the home) – relax. I’ve got a one-year-old, so I know the hell you’re in. So, here are the babyproofing tips I swear by – and the ones not to bother with.
Buy two stairgates. Put one at the top and one at the bottom, so your child can’t climb up or fall down or grab you whenever you’re lying on the stairs trying to have a quick nap.
Some people swear by plug protectors, but they’re not really necessary. The Plugs and Sockets etc (Safety) Regulations act of 1994 states that British sockets must be built with internal shutters to prevent children from poking objects into them. They’re already perfectly safe. (But if you do want to invest, make sure the covers are made post-1994).
When I was a toddler, I shut my finger in my kitchen door and my fingernail fell off. Avoid this horror show by investing in finger pinch guards; little hooks that clip around the side of the door to prevent accidents.
My brother manages to have a glass table and a two-year-old boy in his house at the same time. This is because he apparently doesn’t obsess about it shattering into a million pieces like I would. Probably best avoided.
Kids are fascinated with TVs, as all the tiny fingerprints across mine will attest. If you’re worried about your children pulling your set over, why not wall-mount it? Alternatively, do what we did and barricade it behind something sturdy.
I’m on the fence about this. On one hand it’s good to encourage your child’s natural curiosity. On the other I’m sick of my one-year-old pulling out all my saucepans every day, which is why I’ve covered every single kitchen cabinet in plastic childproof locks.
True story: two days ago my son was trampolining on his new bed and bruised his bum on the frame. So now his bed frame is covered in strips of padded rubber. This one, I’ll admit, is probably overkill.
It isn’t until you have kids that you realise that drinking liquid out of receptacles made of glass is a bit dangerous. But, hey, what are you going to do? Drink out of a plastic beaker? You’re an adult. Have some self-respect. Just put them somewhere high when you’re done with them.
Some ultra-cautious parents advocate getting rid of your pets when you have a baby. But is your pet an actual dingo? No? You’re probably fine. Though I feel obliged to point out that you should never actually leave your little pride and joy alone with a dog. Or a cat. Have you seen Lady And The Tramp?
When I was a toddler I found and drank a full bottle of children’s paracetamol. Luckily I escaped with nothing more serious than a bad tummy ache, but my poor parents are still scarred by the incident. Of course, they could have prevented this by shutting all the medicines away in a secure cupboard. Consider this one a non-negotiable.