Baby-proofing your home – get the basics right

When your baby is a newborn you can hardly imagine a time when you’ll have to lock your cupboards and put up gates to keep their curious little hands and feet out of trouble. But, before you know it, they will be exploring every corner of your home in ways that are hard for grown-ups to imagine. These baby-proofing basics will help you on your way to ensure your home is safe for your little one to explore to his or her heart’s content.

1. Look at your home through your baby’s eyes

The only way to truly identify dangers in your home is to go down on your knees and do a thorough ‘crawling tour’. ‘Harmless’ décor items or a floor-level cosmetic cupboard will quickly jump out at you as alluring hazards. Here’s a brief check-list of all areas that should be thoroughly baby-proofed before your baby starts crawling:

Poisonous substances
o Check every room in your home and move cleaning agents, medicines, vitamins, toiletries, mothballs, and other potentially toxic items out of reach or lock them up.
Bathroom and bath time
o Use non-slip mat in bath; install toilet seat lock; beware of slippery floors.
Baby’s cot and changing area
o Don’t leave soft toys or other pillows in the cot while your baby is sleeping; use a cat net over the crib if you have a cat; take down mobiles or any hanging toys once your baby can pull himself up and stand; keep baby wipes and other toiletries within your reach, but out of your baby’s, while changing his nappy; change nappy on the floor to prevent risk of a fall, especially once your baby is mobile.
Kitchen and scullery
o Keep washing machine, dishwasher, and tumble dryer closed at all times; always switch off all electronic devices after use; use stove top covers and fit an oven door guard; turn pan handles toward the back of the stove.
Rubbish bins and other hygiene-risk areas
o Use bins with child-proof lids, and secure toilet seat locks.
Pet food and accessories
o Place pet food and water bowls out of reach; pet accessories such as leads can be a strangulation hazard.
Your bedroom
o Keep electrical appliances like phone chargers, hair dryers and straighteners unplugged and out of reach; never leave clothing accessories like belts or shoes with sharp heels lying around.
Staircases
o Secure gates at the top and bottom.
Windows
o Keep your baby and furniture away from windows, use window locks, and mark sliding doors and big windows with colourful stickers.
Doors and drawers
o Use door stops to protect your baby’s fingers and lock drawers that can serve as ‘stairs’ to climb onto higher surfaces, or have dangerous content.
Fireplaces and equipment
o Install a fireguard and keep in place while fire is burning; store wood, matches, and fireplace tools out of reach.
Plug points and electrical appliances in common areas
o Use plug covers and keep all cords and appliances, unplugged and out of reach.
Motor garages and storerooms
o Store all gardening and DIY equipment in locked cupboards or on unreachable shelves.
All furniture pieces
o Secure furniture that can topple down if pulled on; attach corner and edge guards.

2. Be one step ahead

Your baby’s rate of development can be hard to keep up with, but when it comes to safety you should always be pro-active in pre-empting new areas of your home that could become danger zones. Your home might have been perfectly safe four weeks ago, but your baby’s new developmental abilities could mean that this is no longer the case.

3. Educate and explain dangers

Although your first priority is keeping danger out of reach, it is important to also show and explain to your baby (more so as they get older) why they can’t open the cupboard or dishwasher. If you are always withholding things from your baby, and not exposing them to the possible consequences of their actions, it will most likely become even more attractive to them. Help them to understand that you’re not withholding something from them, but rather protecting them. Soon they will be able to make a judgement on the safety of a situation on their own, rather than always relying on you to think for them and keep danger at bay.

4. Be aware of incoming dangers

Always inspect a new item coming into your home before exposing your baby to it (be it a new present that is not yet age appropriate, or a latex balloon from a birthday party). Furthermore, an item as seemingly harmless as your or a visitor’s handbag can hold medicines, toiletries, and other toxic substances, so be sure to keep them out of reach.

5. Animals and nature

Animals and nature are unpredictable, so always be alert and never take a chance. Whether it is your trusted pet allowing your toddler to play with them indoors, the neighbours’ ‘tame’ chickens, or the tree in your garden that attracts bees in spring time – never leave your child unattended. Similarly, a branch in an old tree after a storm or a muddy piece of lawn after hard rain can cause serious injuries.

This may sound like a daunting list if you’re a mom-to-be or a brand new mom – but once you get started it does come naturally, so don’t panic 😉 If you have other suggestions please post a comment and let us know – we’d love to hear from you.

*Thanks to the Petit Love team for sharing this post

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