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Child-proofing your home

Posted inLife

Do you have a baby on the way and currently live in a purely adult-friendly house? Many parents are very safety conscious about their children in public, but neglect the area where their children will spend the most time of their early years – their own homes. In Australia, more than half of unintentional deaths and injuries of children aged 0-4 years occur in the home or backyard (Kidsafe). Therefore it is essential to make your home as safe as possible for your children. Follow these tips for a kid friendly home.

  1. Suss out your home

    Get down on your hands and needs into baby mode and scope out your house. What’s within (baby) arms’ reach? What looks inviting to grab or inviting to explore? This will help you determine which cupboards or spaces your child might climb into.

  2. Lock away dangerous items

    Put away any poisons, chemicals, medicines, vitamins, sharps or pointy items either out of reach or in a locked/child proof cupboard.

  3. Set up no-go zones

    There will be certain areas which are dangerous for your child to be in. Gates are a good way to keep children out of areas which are too difficult to child proof. Ensure that you buy brand-new, modern safety gates, as old models can pose a strangulation threat to children. Installing a gate at the top of the stairs is a must to prevent falls. Install one that screws into the wall, not a pressure gate, as they have the potential to come loose.

  1. Protect electrical outlets

    You can buy removal caps that plug in to powerpoints. However, these can come off and end up in your child’s mouth. So to be properly child proof, replace your electrical outlets with those that have a sliding safety cover.

  2. Stabilise furniture

    If a child runs into or climbs on a piece of furniture you don’t want it toppling over and landing on them. Reorganise your bookshelves and cupboards to have heavier items at the bottom to make furniture less top-heavy. Move heavy items (such as televisions) away from the edges of benches. Cover sharp corners of tables and cupboards with soft bumpers to reduce the impact if your child runs into them.

  3. Check curtain and blind cords

    Make sure you have a good system of tying up any blind and curtain cords out of your child’s reach. These pose a strangulation risk to your child. You can cut the cords to make them shorter or use a cord shortening device to keep them out of reach. Alternatively you can replace corded window coverings with cordless ones.

  1. Secure windows and doors

    Install window stops so that windows cannot be opened further than a child could fit through. Don’t position furniture near windows so children can climb up and be near the window. Children are prone to getting little fingers caught in slamming doors so use doorstops or hooks to secure open doors.

  2. Practice water safety

    Any water body can pose a threat to your baby – buckets, baths, sinks and toilets. Always supervise your child while they are in the bath even if they are in a bath seat. Install a safety latch on your toilet lid to prevent them falling in. Never leave a bucket or sink of water unattended. Infants and toddlers can drown in just a few centimetres of water, due to their top-heavy nature. When leaning over they can topple and become stuck in a bucket, toilet or sink. If you have a pool it is the law to have it fenced according to standards, with a child proof lock on the gate. Never leave your child unattended in the pool.

  3. Prevent fires

    Be sensible about fire safety just like you would without a child! As soon as possible talk to your child about fire safety and emergency plans. Install smoke alarms in case of a fire, and check batteries regularly.

  1. Prepare for an emergency

    Have emergency phone numbers programmed into your home and mobile phones, and have a number of emergency escape routes planned from your house. Have first aid supplies handy and ensure that any babysitters know their whereabouts.

  2. Ongoing maintenance

    Pick up any small, mouth-sized items that your child could choke on. Everything looks tasty to a baby! As your child grows they will be able to reach more things and climb to higher heights! Get down into toddler mode, and child mode as they grow to reassess dangers.

  3. Be careful with visitors

    Aunty Nora may not have the same child proofing standards as you, so when guests visit, ensure that their belongings are out of reach. You don’t want your baby finding dangerous medication or choking hazards in a handbag or wallet.

If this all seems overwhelming, take a deep breath! While there are lots of things to watch out for much of it is common sense.