Stair gates, cupboard locks, corner cushions are just some of the basic steps you’ll take to protect your little one from accidents at home once they become mobile.  The safe haven that is home is actually full of hidden dangers, so childproofing provides not only protection to your child, but peace of mind for you too.

Given that more than 600,000 children aged four or under need hospital treatment each year following accidents in the home, spending some time assessing your home for potential problems is time well spent. A lot of parents have no idea how dangerous the home can be

Curious children left unattended, even for a moment, will wonder into rooms that hold potential dangers. All parents wish to provide the very best possible environment for their young children to grow up in and any unnecessary bumps, tumbles, burns, fractures, and even more serious injuries can easily be avoided with a little understanding and common sense of the dangers and how best to avoid them.

Childproofing is no substitute for responsible parenting; the slightest distraction like the telephone ringing or another child requiring attention can cause the one you’ve been looking out for to be off courting trouble. Make sure your environment is safe.

Childproofing: just how safe is your home

  • Get down on your hands and knees and see the world
    from a toddlers eye view – you’ll see what they can see and reach for
  • Stairs to tumble down, sharp corners to fall on to, plug sockets to poke inquisitive fingers into and all manner of interesting machines crying out to be investigated. Your safe, safe home can suddenly seems a dangerous place when you have a baby
  • The Department of Trade and Industry say most accidents happen in the lounge and dining room, closely followed by the kitchen, bathroom and stairs
  • Most accidents occur during the day, in particular between the hours of 6pm and 7pm, when people are often beginning to get tired and clumsy
  • Another common time is during stressful periods, or when there is a distraction, for example when you are trying to cook
  • By six months a rumbustious baby will want to touch, feel and taste everything within 4 ft of the floor
  • Untidy homes cause more accidents than tidy ones

Some personal experiences

“I was having my house built while I was pregnant and didn’t think about what having a baby would mean. I put in a spiral staircase which, in hindsight, I realised was impractical , but I discovered there are products which do look good, keep your baby safe and don’t cost a fortune”.

“We bought the house just before Daisy was born and rushed to get it renovated in time for her birth. She arrived one week early and the house was still unfinished. We worked day and night to complete it”.

“If we’d had more time we would have done things differently. We would have hidden more of the wiring under the floorboards and thought more carefully about how we installed the bookshelves and cabinets. They are not fastened to the wall and could easily topple
down onto Daisy.

Top tips for childproofing and making your home safe

As well as the standard electrical socket covers, door stops, each room has particular areas of concern…

The kitchen

  • Use the back burners on your hob rather than the front ones
  • Store cleaning products in wall cupboards so they are out of reach
  • Always ensure that lids are securely fastened and where possible buy products which have child safety lids
  • Most pump spray cleaners now come with lockable caps. Make sure you turn them to the off position when not in use

What do I need?

  • Safety latches for cupboards and appliances
  • Safety gate

The living room

  • Always use a fire guard, even if you have an electric fire as the heat of the glass can still cause serious burns
  • Move vases, ornaments and photo frames out of reach and remove the temptation for your little one to pull themselves up onto the furniture to touch them
  • Keep all DVDs and CDs in their cases and in a cupboard or drawer which can be locked with a safety latch

What do I need?

  • corner cushions
  • socket covers
  • safety catches
  • fireguard

The stairs

  • Choose a wall mounted safety gate for the top of the stairs which is screwed directly into the wall and doesn’t have a bar running along the bottom, which could be a potential trip hazard at the top of the stairs.
  • Choose a pressure fit or wall mounted safety gate for the bottom of the stairs.

What do I need?

  • safety gate
  • wall mounted extending gate

The bedroom

  • Keep all creams and lotions in a drawer, using a drawer lock to keep them out of reach
  • Keep nappy bags in a secure drawer
  • It’s not just the baby’s room, think about your bedroom too; perfumes, makeup, hair gels and hairdryers and hair stylers also need to be stored out of reach
  • Use a bed rail when your child moves from a cot to a bed to avoid any bumps in the night

What do I need?

  • safety gate
  • socket covers
  • safety catches
  • door stopper
  • bed rail
  • digital video monitor

The bathroom

  • Be vigilant about keeping perfumes, shampoos, toothpastes out of reach and either buy products with, or transfer products into bottles with, tamper proof tops
  • ALL bottles and medicines should be stored away in a locked cabinet
  • Radiators and towel rails are also something to be aware of as these can easily burn.

What do I need?

  • multi-purpose latches
  • cabinet locks
  • bath seat
  • bath thermometer

Blind Cord Safety

The Risk –  Looped window blind cords can slip around a child’s neck if they fall on to it, or they become entangled in dangling cords.

Toddlers and young children are most at risk from strangulation, as they often climb on furniture or use objects to hold themselves up – children jumping or launching themselves from furniture is often the cause for them becoming entangled in blind and curtain cord loops. A child can die within 20 seconds of becoming caught in one of these cords, and even if rescued earlier, can suffer permanent brain damage afterwards.

Strangulation from blind cords and chains can be a real danger if you have active children, so it’s important to take the following measures to reduce the risk of accidents;

  • Install blinds that do not have a cord, particularly in a child’s bedroom
  • Do not place a child’s cot, bed, playpen or highchair near a window
  • Pull cords on curtains and blinds should be kept short and kept out of reach
  • Tie up the cords or use one of the many cleats, cord tidies, clips or ties that are available
  • Do not hang toys or objects that could be a hazard on the cot or bed
  • Don’t hang drawstring bags where a small child could get their head through the loop of the drawstring.