Accidents around the house are an unfortunate reality and children are often the worst affected due to a lack of childproofing. One of the first things you should do when you know you’re expecting a baby is to take steps to childproof your home.
Not only is this essential for your child’s safety, it also helps for your own peace of mind around the house. You need to be able to leave your child alone for a few moments occasionally without worrying that they’ll immediately injure themselves.
It takes only seconds for an accident to occur and more often than not, these tragedies are completely avoidable with some basic household childproofing.
Coffee or side tables
Tables with sharp edges, especially if they are glass, should have soft foam or rubber covers put over them. Alternatively, store these items offsite until your child is older.
Fireplace or heaters
Fireplaces and heaters must have barriers or covers to prevent children from getting too close.
Power strips and plugs
Make sure that power strips aren’t accessible and that plug points are covered. All cords should be secured in such a way that your child can’t pull on them.
Ornaments and photo frames
Keep all ornaments and photo frames out of reach, especially breakables.
- Glass from photo frames can easily break and cut your child.
- Small ornaments can be choking hazards
- Larger ornaments can fall and injure a child
- Your child might be tempted to chew on scented candles
Heavy bookcases or cabinets should be secured to the wall or, better yet, stored until the child is older.
All plug points should be covered, especially when not in use so your child can’t stick their fingers in the holes.
Doors should have stops on them to prevent slamming. Children can lose fingers from getting them caught in a slamming door.
Windows should be well-secured and not easy to open. Keep furniture away from the windows so it’s not easy to climb onto the windowsill.
Never have blinds with looped cords on your windows if you have small children. The risk of entanglement and strangulation is too high.
Your medicine cabinet should be well out of reach and also locked, just in case. Ground level cabinets should also be locked, even if they only hold towels or toilet rolls.
Get a clip for the toilet seat that will keep it secured when not in use. The toilet is a drowning hazard and you don’t want your little one putting their toys in the loo either.
It’s best to keep the bathroom bin out of reach, just in case someone throws away a razor or unused medications.
The kitchen is the most hazardous areas of the house for kids if not properly childproofed. Some dangerous kitchen items include:
- Knives and sharp utensils
- Detergents and corrosive cleaning liquids
- Fridge magnets can be a choking hazard
- Heat from the oven door can cause burns
- Splattering oil from frying and cooking
- Hot water from the kettle
Install childproof locks on all kitchen cabinets, no matter what the cabinet holds.
If you have a dishwasher, ensure that it’s kept closed at all times. Because it’s at ground level, the dishwasher is an easy way for children to get their hands on cutlery or knives.
Little kids love to pull on things. Don’t leave any cords for appliances, such as the kettle, hanging in easy reach.
Invest in a lock or door clip for the fridge to prevent your child from opening the door. You don’t want your toddler sampling the open bottle of chardonnay.
Due to the high number of hazards, lots of parents prefer to keep the kitchen off limits. Installing a gate at the entrance is an easy way to keep kids out until they are older.
Pool cover or gate
Pools, Jacuzzis and water features should be securely fenced or covered at all times. Make sure gates are always locked and that pool covers meet the required safety standards.
Remove any plants in your garden that are toxic or harmful.
- Prickly plants (cactuses, roses, bougainvillaea etc.)
- Poisonous plants (poinsettia, lily of the valley, pennyroyal etc.)
- Plants with small fruit or berries which can be a choking hazard (olives, holly, gooseberries etc.)
Make sure that your garden is securely fenced and gated. There should be no access to neighbouring gardens or the street.
Opt for soft ground covers such as grass or AstroTurf rather than hard surfaces like paving stones or gravel.
Playground equipment is great for kids but make sure that it’s all up to scratch.
- Swing sets and jungle gyms must be secured to the ground
- All equipment must be rust free and have no sharp edges
- The ground underneath any climbing sets must be soft
- Sandpits much have clean sand that’s free of debris and a cover for when it rains
Sometimes, the best solution is to remove the problem entirely. Some household objects are too much of a concern to have around when children are very young.
Storing these items offsite until they are older is a good way to make sure that accidents don’t occur. Here are some household items that would be best to store in the early years.
- Heavy bookshelves or cabinets that can topple
- Furniture with sharp edges (especially glass coffee tables)
- Big mirrors or artwork that could fall if bumped
- Antiques that could lose value if stained or damaged (carpets for example)
- Light coloured fabric sofas that could get stained
- Expensive non-essential electronics