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Ten ways to help baby proof your home

Do you have a new baby in the family? Your little addition to the family needs to be protected from danger. When a baby starts to become mobile, without the right kind of measures your home has the potential to be a hazard instead of the safe haven you hoped for.

Don’t worry. Here are a few simple steps you can take to adapt your home for the youngest member of the family.

The information given within this article should be used as guidance only. For further information on how to baby proof your home, the following bodies can provide advice/support; RoSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents), IAFCS (International Association for Child Safety).

Anticipate the next stage

At first, a baby doesn’t move much, or have the strength or co-ordination to pose much of a danger to him or herself. However, they develop quickly and leap from one milestone to the next. Consider what they’ll be able to do next – even if it seems unlikely at the moment, they’ll get there soon enough. Set aside time every week to think about what the following few days might bring and prepare your home accordingly.

Take a child’s-eye view

Get down low and look at everything in your home from a child’s point of view. What can they see from a cot, high chair or the floor? Can you spot any potential dangers or hazards they will be tempted to explore? When you start to see things from a few inches above the skirting board you may notice that there are loose tiles, sharp edges, interesting objects and exposed dangers.

Don’t wait until you have special equipment

If you spot a risk, don’t wait until you have specialist safety equipment. Take action now. For example, if you see your wriggling and rolling child could get their fingers caught in a door, then don’t wait until you buy foam door-stoppers, tie a scarf or towel to the handles on both sides so the door can’t slam. Use your instinct and common sense. If you think that something in your home could pose a danger to your baby, then do something about it. Why run the risk?

Check blind cords

Even tiny infants can become entangled in the cords from blinds, though the risk is far greater with toddlers. Ensure all cords are out of your child’s reach. If you’re buying new blinds you could choose blinds that don’t have a cord. Otherwise, don’t put furniture near a window that they could climb up on, tie up cords and use safety devices such as, cleats, cord ties or clips, all of which are readily available from DIY stores. The RoSPA (Royal Society for the prevention of Accidents) has a video on their website to give guidance on how to fit a blind cord cleat. Also consider other risks of strangulation; don’t hang toys or drawstring bags where a child could get their head through the loop.

Keep nappy bags stored away

Every year children die because of nappy bags. In most cases they have suffocated when a nappy bag has covered their face. Never store nappy bags in or near your baby’s cot or pram. While it might be convenient for nappy changes, if your baby can reach and grab the plastic, the results could be tragic.

Put poisons beyond reach

One of the ways children investigate the world is by putting things in their mouths. It’s important to store medicines, cleaning products and other poisons somewhere your child can’t get at them, preferably in a locked cupboard. Poisons can also include less obvious items such as alcoholic drinks, plants with toxic leaves or berries and liquid laundry tablets or cosmetics.

Let them sleep like a baby

Your baby does not need soft toys, bumpers or other items in their cot – no matter how cosy or attractive they appear to be. They could pose a danger. Instead, infants need ample oxygen around them and to be free of the risk of slipping under covers or toys while they sleep. A baby sleep bag is a safe alternative to a more traditional blanket. The sleep bag features a neck opening and armholes, to allow for movement and to keep a baby at the correct temperature. For a baby sleep bag to be safe, it must be well fitted (correct for the size and weight of the baby), be a low tog and used in guidance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

Don’t be too hot to handle

While you want to keep your little one warm, you’d certainly not want them to get burnt. Invest in a thermometer for the bath water and a kettle that’s cordless or has a coiled flex, install fireguards and turn your domestic hot water system down to 46°C, so that tap water isn’t hot enough to burn.

Make sure the garden is rosy

Think about filling in or fencing off ponds as they pose a real drowning danger. Likewise, ensure there are no buckets or troughs that will fill up with water when it rains – it only takes a few inches of water to drown a child. Lock your garden shed and keep all tools and equipment safely inside.

Don’t make a mountain out of climbing

Understand that as he or she gets moving, your baby will climb as well as crawl. Check that they can’t clamber into danger by, say, using a chair to reach a windowsill. Make sure that they can’t climb up the front of chests of drawers, scramble from chairs onto high tables or over the bars of their cot.