The birth of our child is a wonderful and transformative experience. From the moment we first look into their eyes, our minds undergo a fundamental change. Our every thought, and deed becomes a effort to ensuring that baby is safe, happy and has the opportunity to grow up in an environment where they can develop and learn what it is to be a human in safety and security.
If this is your first baby, then you face a difficult balance. The balance between allowing your child can learn from the occasional slip, trip, bump and booboo while ensuring that they are kept safe from the many hazards around the home that can cause them real harm or even prove fatal. As a parent-in-waiting, you’re probably aware that your vision has been suddenly and irrevocably altered when you walk around your home. Where once there was a cool space filled with pretty things where you could unwind after a hard day’s work, you now see danger lurking in every dark crevice, every sharp edge and every pointy corner.
Sure, you can up sticks and move if the time and your financial circumstances are right. A new home would enable you to build your baby safety strategy from the ground up, but if you’re not ready to call the national moving company just yet, there are plenty of options that will allow you to make the best of what you already have.
Let’s face it, an entire industry has arisen around parents’ need to make sure that their babies are safe and happy at home. While there are scores of products on the market to help make your home baby ready, it’s up to you as a parent to identify potential hazards and put measures in place to avoid them.
Fall and trip hazards
Babies and toddlers aren’t known for their grace or agility. As babies develop they become increasingly enthusiastic about exploring their home environment, propelling themselves at dizzying speeds on all fours at first, before lumbering unsteadily on their own two feet. With this in mind, preventing trips and falls around the home is a great first page in your baby safety manifesto. Falls may account for over 40% of accidents in the home but they’re relatively easy to prevent.
Crawling babies can give you the slip if you avert your gaze for a fraction of a second so your first port of call will be your staircase. Stairs hazardous for crawling babies who aren’t accustomed to such notions as steep drops and shear angles. A baby gate must be installed both at to the top of the stairs and three steps up from the bottom to impede any access. As your baby grows up and starts taking their first shaky steps then you should ensure that your stairways are well lit and kept free of stray toys or any other items left on them that may become a trip hazard. Carpeting should be removed or repaired when damaged as this may also be a trip hazard. Balustrades should be secure enough to provide support, with measures put in place to prevent climbing.
The crib is the one place where you are expected to leave your baby unattended for long periods of time. A safe crib is vital for your child’s safety and your peace of mind. While they don’t tend to be cheap, used cribs are not advisable as they can get worn and rickety over time, compromising their safety.
- Keep blankets or sleeping bags wearable to prevent entanglements.
- Don't hang pictures or shelves over the crib as these may fall, creating a hazard.
- If you have a cat then it may be drawn to your baby’s warmth. Ensure that you put a net over the crib.
- Keep the mattress as low as possible to prevent baby from climbing out as they develop.
Kitchen and bathroom hazards
Where there’s hot water or fire, there’s a danger of scalds and burns. As with most things, the most important tool to deploy is vigilance. Many of us make a habit of keeping half drunk coffee or tea on the corner of a table or desk but this can be within the reach of tiny grabbing hands. Be mindful of where you put hot drinks and be aware that they can still scald over 15 minutes after they’ve been made.
Likewise pan handles can be a source of enormous curiosity to a developing little mind so make sure they’re turned inwards away from the reach of curious hands. When cooking, it’s basic fire safety sense to keep a fire retardant blanket on hand to prevent any small kitchen fires from escalating and becoming a hazard to your child.
Often the best protection is as simple as closing a door. If you’re drawing a bath or cooking then it may be the simplest way to keep your child away from scalding hot water. It’s also worth getting into the habit of running the cold water first then incrementally adding hot water, testing it with your elbow to get an understanding of how it would feel for baby soft skin.
No home can ever be without hazards, but with a little of the right equipment and a little common sense you can ensure that your child has the best possible start on the path to a safe childhood.