Congratulations, you’re a parent, or soon will be. The only issue is that your home isn’t yet baby proofed! Although baby proofing may appear to be a daunting task, a few easy steps can make your house considerably safer.
We all know that babies learn by exploring; they have no concept of sharp edges, hot surfaces, poisonous substances or potentially harmful situations. They’re unaware, yet curious about what’s going on around them. They also spend more time in the family home than anywhere else, so it’s important we make it a safe, harm-free environment to the best of our ability.
Accidents such as falls, drowning and furniture tipping over remain the greatest cause of death for children aged one to four (Centres for Disease and Prevention, 2015). It may seem like a tedious and boring task but baby proofing is certainly not something that should be taken lightly.
Baby proofing becomes toddler proofing, which becomes childproofing, and so on. Essentially, the need to improve the safety of your home will be determined by your child’s development and age.
We recommend starting the process as soon as you can, ideally before your due date, so that you can devote all of your attention to your baby once they arrive. It’s likely going to be the case that you may not have the time to juggle a newborn and childproof your home at the same time.
You’ll need to run a second baby proofing check once the baby starts crawling (at about 6 to 10 months) to ensure the house is safe for a moving infant. From there, child proofing will be a work in progress, and only you can decide what needs to be done based on your child’s developmental stage.
Electrical outlets are at the perfect height for toddlers who can now crawl and sit up. We recommend purchasing covers for outlets that are not in regular use. Outlets that are being used, on the other hand, are dangerous because children may pull or tug cords far enough to make contact with the metal prongs. In this instance, Use a child-resistant outlet cover or place furniture in front of the outlets so there is no access point for your child.
For added peace of mind, parents can consider fitting their home with a professionally monitored alarm system that includes remote panic buttons. In the unlikely event of an electrocution, these devices can mean the difference between life or death as an ambulance is only the press of a button away.
A lock is by far the most common method for child proofing drawers. In recent years, magnetic locks have gained popularity as a safe solution to keep drawers locked in the kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom. To use, place a latch with a powerful magnet inside the drawer to prevent it from being opened. However, this does not mean that you must lock every single drawer; only those that are within reach of your toddler and those that contain potentially harmful objects should be secured. Some parents choose to keep one kitchen cupboard open and fill it with child-safe cooking items.
Items such as loose change, paper clips, batteries or nuts & bolts are common household choking hazards for infants. To mitigate the risk of choking in the family home it’s important to vacuum regularly to suck up any loose debris that may have found its way to the floor. Another handy tip is to check your doorstops; many have removable caps that pose a choking hazard.
As mentioned previously, a professionally monitored alarm system that includes remote and/or fixed panic buttons can help save precious time in the event of an emergency such as choking – ultimately saving your child’s life.
Heavy furniture that can fall or be climbed on should be attached to the wall using safety straps. This includes bookshelves and chests of drawers, as well as any other furniture that can fall or be climbed on. Free-standing televisions should be fastened with safety straps or wall-mounted if possible.
You can protect your child from serious injury by purchasing corner or edge protectors made of thick foam that helps to absorb impact. DIY alternatives include tennis balls on table corners, pool noodle door stoppers and foam pipe insulation on sharp edges.
A baby gate or fence is the best baby proofing solution for preventing your child from climbing the stairs. A baby gate helps keep your toddler from getting too close to the stairwell and will keep them out of harm’s way. However, a variety of factors should be considered when choosing a gate, such as how frequently the stairs are used throughout the day and whether heavy objects are frequently carried up the stairs.
Install smoke detectors in each room of your home. Carbon monoxide detectors should also be installed in each bedroom. Check the detectors weekly to ensure they are working, and replace the batteries at least once a year. You should also store a fire extinguisher and a fire blanket in the kitchen, and keep matches and lighters out of reach.
For added peace of mind, parents can consider fitting their home with a professionally monitored alarm system that directly connects to your fire and carbon monoxide detectors. This allows for your system to send an emergency signal to our alarm monitoring centre if a fire or gas leak is detected, ensuring the fire brigade is notified in the shortest time possible, potentially saving your families lives.
When purchasing a crib, check for the ‘Juvenile Products Manufacturing Association’ label, which guarantees that the device was created with federal safety standards in mind.
All hardware, including nuts, bolts, screws, plastic pieces, and so on, should be included with the crib (do not substitute hardware store goods for genuine parts).
Make sure all rugs are secured with non-slip pads (or underlays) and that they are always swept and clean so that babies and young toddlers do not find (and eat) anything embedded in them.
Even when a fly screen is attached, children can fall out of a window that is opened more than 10cm. Make certain that no chairs, boxes, mattresses, or other items that a child could climb onto are placed beneath a window, and consider installing window locks.
Another common hazard many new parents face as their infant begins to walk and learn to open doors, is the potential for them to run out of the front door unnoticed if it is accidentally left unlocked. For added peace of mind, parents can consider fitting their home with a professionally monitored alarm system that includes door and window switches that chime if a door or window is opened. This acts as ‘back-up’ in case parents forget to lock the front door.
Many common household products and objects can be poisonous if ingested. Certain houseplants, medicines, cosmetics and shampoos should all be kept out of reach from children and away from ledges. Wherever possible, keep alcohol locked in a cabinet that is inaccessible to little hands.
By baby proofing common household dangers, you can achieve peace of mind for those times when you are not able to watch your child’s every move.
The vast benefits of incorporating professional alarm monitoring as part of the child-proofing process should now be evident. Smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, panic buttons and door & window switches are just a few of the additional products Signal can include as part of your home safety solution. It’s more important than ever parents have quick access to help when it comes to life or death situations that involve their young ones.
For additional information on securing your home and looking for a security assessment, feel free to get in touch with a home safety specialist using our contact us page or by calling us on 1300 73 83 93 Monday to Friday between 9 am – 5 pm.