Babies and small children are naturally curious creatures, always wanting to explore and push the boundaries of their tiny worlds. While we naturally embrace and encourage their enthusiasm for exploration, it’s also up to us to make sure they do it safely. There are some simple and relatively inexpensive ways to reduce the likelihood of your little one getting in harm’s way:
- Buy furniture and toys that meet safety standards. Beware of gaps, sharp or rough edges, breakable components and small pieces. Toys, especially the cheap ones that kids seem to love, can very quickly become choking hazards.
- Put breakables out of reach, and keep kid-friendly toys on lower shelves or in kitchen drawers and cabinets within reach. Most toddlers love playing with plastic containers, saucepans and spoons.
- Wires from electrical goods should be tied neatly and tucked away with clips or electrical tape to avoid small hands pulling or tripping on them.
- Make sure the most dangerous items are out of reach. Medicines, cleaning products and other household chemicals should all be kept in high cupboards or those with locks.
- Be careful what you put down on tables and kitchen counters. Knives, hot irons, saucepans on the stove, and hot drinks are all accidents waiting to happen if not kept out of reach.
- Always empty the bath and paddling pool after use and never leave a bucket of water standing around – children can drown in only a few inches of water.
- Install window guards or safety latches to prevent windows from opening more than a few inches.
- Cut window blind cords or tie them out of reach to prevent the risk of strangulation.
- Open electrical sockets are very inviting for little fingers and curious minds. Cover all sockets with plastic plugs, which are available at most home and baby stores.
- Install smoke detectors on every floor or in the hall outside bedrooms. Carbon monoxide detectors are also recommended by safety specialists.
- Once your child has mastered crawling, they’ll soon move on to climbing. Move furniture away from windows, and keep balconies free of objects that can be used for leverage. Heavy freestanding furniture should be fixed to the wall to prevent it from toppling over. Drawers make excellent steps to higher up places, so keep them closed and store the heaviest items in the bottom drawer.
- If you have cupboards or chests that are big enough for children to climb into, make sure they can’t be locked from the inside.
- Children find the most mundane of everyday objects completely fascinating. Be aware of where you put things like dog food, fridge magnets, coins and plastic bags.
- Install child-proof locks on doors that lead to balconies or rooftops, and on cupboards containing dangerous or breakable items.
- Rubber or foam door-stoppers are an easy and inexpensive way to stop fingers getting jammed (and prevent the door slamming that toddlers find so entertaining).
Baby-proofing is a long-term project and you will need to adapt as your child grows and develops new skills. The precautions you take will also depend on your child’s personality and just how adventurous they are. Above all, babies need to learn what is safe behaviour and what isn’t, from your gentle and persistent guidance.