Required: Drawer and cupboard locks, safety gates for homes with stairs, baby monitor
Recommended: Socket covers, table corner cushions
Optional: Fireguard, door guard, toilet lock
Baby Proofing Guide
Parents worry endlessly about violence or abduction but often overlook the dangers lurking in their own home. Once your baby is mobile, nothing is safe – cupboards, drawers, fireplaces, stairs, appliances and furniture all become fascinating things to explore. There are some major things you should do to baby proof your home – for example, using stair gates and drawer and cupboard locks where there are dangerous or breakable items – but going overboard with endless safety gadgets may be futile as babies are bound to get in to some things and have occasional falls. The best advice we can offer is to be knowledgeable on best safety practices, be watchful in the relevant areas of your home, and protect baby from hazards listed below while remembering that nothing actually beats watchful adult supervision.
Start early: You will be surprised at how soon your baby is getting into things – take the time to baby proof when your little one is still a newborn.
See the world from baby’s eyes: Actually get down on the floor and see things as your baby does. Lock up or put away obvious potential hazards such as including cleaning products, medicines, vitamins, knives, and china.
Give baby a safe night’s sleep: Ensure your baby can not fit his head between the slats on his cot, and keep soft items such as blankets, pillows, soft toys and cot bumpers out of the sleep space of young babies. Perhaps most importantly for the modern day parent, get a good baby monitorthat allows you to keep a close eye on your baby through vision, sound and even touch.
Straighten up your electrical cords: Organise loose cords and try to minimise accessible tiny objects that your baby could choke on.
Secure furniture and fixings: Large or heavy bookcases, dressers and appliances should be secured to the wall with furniture straps. Push items like televisions or vases towards the back or centre of tables and be cautious placing any large objects on dressers with drawers as they are favourite climbing ladders.
Cover outlets: It is impractical for many people to cover every socket in your home, but it is a good idea to cover those in areas where your baby spends the majority of his time or in areas like the kitchen where metal items lie around. Make sure appliances such as irons and hair straighteners are always safely put away.
Install gates: It is best to buy brand new safety gates that are completely up to date on safety standards. Only use gates that secure to the wall at the top and bottom of stairwells as pressure gates are not as secure.
Toy and cot mobile safety: Your child’s toys should be much larger than his mouth, to prevent choking. Check that all the parts attached to a toy — like doll eyes or teddy bear bows – are securely fastened and can’t be torn off. Remove mobiles attached to a cot as soon as your baby can push up on his hands and knees.
Check ties on blinds and curtains: Babies and toddlers can easily get tangled in the dangling cords of venetian blinds, curtains and other window covers. It only takes 20 seconds for a toddler to die from strangulation if they get caught in a cord. Keep cots, beds and high chairs away from curtain cords. Fit a cleat hook to tie blind cords high out of reach, or cut the ends and attach break-away safety cords.
Secure windows and doors: Use window stops or window guards to make sure windows do not open more than four inches. Try to keep furniture away from windows so babies can’t climb up on them.
Bath time safety: Make bath time fun, not fearful, for your little one. Hot bath water is the leading cause of serious scalding injuries among young children. Every year around 2,000 children go to hospital with bath water scalds. They typically occur when parents are distracted for a few seconds so never leave your baby or toddler alone in the bath, even for a moment. Prevent scalding by fitting a thermostatic mixing valve (TMV) that regulates water temperature to 48C. Install no-slip strips on the bottom of your bath and a soft cover on the taps to protect tender heads.
Prevent falls: Falls from cots, highchairs, windows and down stairs are the most common causes of head injury and broken bones. Most serious falls take parents by surprise when their child does something they didn’t know they could do. Be prepared. Fit safety gates on stairs before your baby begins crawling. Don’t put furniture in front of windows, and add safety locks. Remove large toys from the cot to deter climbing. Always fasten your child in their high chair. At changing time, plan ahead and have all the items you need – nappies, wipes, baby cream and a small toy — handy before you start to change baby. Never leave babies alone when they are not at ground level.
Prevent poisoning and manage your medicine: Everyday painkillers and other medicines are the most common way for young children to be poisoned. Store medicines and other poisonous products out of your baby’s reach, and place locks on all cabinets that hold medications, cleaning products, toiletries and other potential poisons.
Make sure your alarms are working: Making sure you have a working smoke alarm doubles your chances of getting your family out of a fire alive. Many UK fire and rescue services offer free home fire safety checks. Install a smoke alarm outside every bedroom or sleeping area, and make sure there’s at least one on every floor. Keep carbon monoxide alarms in your home that can detect malfunctioning fuel burning appliances and call 999 immediately if the alarm goes off.
Prevent drowning: Toilets and tubs may seem harmless enough to us, but tubs, toilets and even buckets of water are all potential dangers because children can drown in just a few inches of water if they fall headfirst and get stuck. Never leave a child alone when bathing and consider placing safety latches on toilet lids – if nothing else, keep them closed at all times.
Prepare for an emergency: Keep a list of all emergency numbers on your phone and make sure you have a well-supplied first aid kit in your home. Make sure caregivers know where the first aid supplies are and how to respond in an emergency.