Here at Babsafe.ie we have put together this baby proofing guide to help you on your way to creating a safe and baby friendly home. Our aim is to give you ideas and to point out some areas that you may not have previously thought about. We want this guide to really help you, it's not intended to just showcase Babasafe's products, however if we have a particular product that we think will help then we will include a link to it. These suggestions are mainly common sense, however they may be things that are often overlooked and our intention is to help you recognize these things and provide a safer environment for your little one.
It is recommended that you begin to childproof your home from when your baby is about 3 months old and before they start to crawl. Baby proofing as early as possible will enable you to recognize dangers around the house and minimize the chances of accidents happening
Through our research and talking to our customers, this guide will be constantly changed and updated as we learn new ideas and tips . In the meantime we have covered as must as we possibly can but remember that this doesn't cover absolutely everything and each house and home is different and will present different and unique challenges. If, after reading, you think we have missed something or if you have something new to add please get in touch with us. If we add your idea to our site we will send you a €10 gift voucher as a way of saying thanks!
Tip: Prepare your own safety checklist where you can cross off what you have completed, this will help you to make sure that everything necessary has been covered
Some tips we think will help from the get go:
- "Don't learn safety by accident". Preparation is key to preventing accidents in the home. We've tried to be as complete and informative as possible with this checklist, but as mentioned earlier, each home is different and can present it's own set of dangers so you really need to take some time, have a look around your house and recognize these dangers. Common sense and preparation cannot be replaced by any amount of baby proofing products
- See things from your baby's perspective. Try getting down on your hands and knees in each room and seeing things as your baby would, this will help you to notice any hidden dangers and things that you may not normally notice. Keep an eye out for hazards like sharp edges and corners, small objects and electrical socket.
- Who do you share your home with? Who visit's your house? Granny, granddad, aunts, uncles, friends? Some people may need to be reminded about and made aware of some of the do's and don'ts so that they can be as cautious as you are.
Now, let's get down to business. Babasafe.ie have collated the list below outlining potential hazards to your little one. Some of these tips may be obvious to you, some maybe not. We have split the guide up by room or by hazard/risk group
We will start off with the kitchen which tends to be one of the most difficult room in your house to baby proof and presents a multitude of dangers to your child. It is also a room that has a lot of distractions for you while you go about your daily business
Chairs and stools, where are they placed? Can they easily topple over? Can they be climbed on or used as a ladder to get access to a worktop, table etc?
Does your oven door get hot? If it is within reaching distance for your toddler you might think about buying an oven door guard. You can also buy stove knob covers that stop your little one from turning the kitchen hob on, believe it or not this does happen!
Have a look through your kitchen cupboards and drawers and make a decision which ones you want to make out of bounds to your toddler (if not all of them!). Some of the more obvious presses would be underneath your sink where the majority of people will store their cleaning products which provide a host of toxic and dangerous chemicals. Medicine and cutlery drawers are other areas that pose a huge risk to children. Also think about other items that you store in your kitchen cupboards and drawers which may not be so obviously apparent such as cling film, freezer bags, spare plastic bags, these all provide a choking hazard. You can remove these items and place them out of reach of your child or you can lock the drawer/cupboards with a cupboard lock or drawer latch from Babasafe.ie. These locks are cost-effect and are easy for parents to open but difficult for toddlers, they are also extremely quick and easy to fit, you can check out our range here
You rubbish bin is definitely something you want to keep your child out of. Keep your bin out of reach of your little one, or if this isn't possible keep the bin locked with an extra long multi-purpose lock
Make sure your appliances including your fridge, washing machine and dishwasher are secure. One way to do this is with the Babasafe adjustable multi-purpose lock or appliance lock, these locks are designed for high volume use and adaptable for different appliances
- Be vigilant about hot liquids around the kitchen, hot drinks are a major culprit for burn injuries. Remember that babies and children's skin is a lot thinner (15 times thinner!) than an adult's and what may not seem too hot for us can easily cause a burn to a child for example. HSE.is has advised that even after fifteen minutes, a hot drink such as tea or coffee with milk can scald a child. Try not to use tablecloths, children can pull at these and pull the contents of the table down on top of themselves
Many houses and apartments have open plan kitchens, living and dining rooms, our room divider is a great option for sectioning off your kitchen for example, while you work freely and while your baby is still in sight, this will keep your them away from dangers in the kitchen
A simple yet effective idea is to keep a press open that has safe contents, this will attract your baby and keep them busy while you are busy. Non-toxic plastic lunchboxes and containers are ideal
Check around your kitchen for choking hazards, things such as grapes or coins, and make sure these are out of reach
Where possible cook at the rear of your hob to keep pots and pans out of reach as much as you can
ELECTRICAL & APPLIANCE SAFETY
- Hair straighteners & tongs - A major cause of burn injuries to children, but did you know that most burns occur after the hair straighteners/tongs have been turned off? (which can take up to 40 minutes in some cases) According to the HSE.ie 18 months was the average age of children that were admitted to hospital as a result of these type of burns. Have a heat resistant bag/pouch to put straighteners and tongs in straight after you have finished and store them out of reach.
- Sockets - Why do children seem to be so attracted to sockets? Is it because they look like a little face or is it because they watch adults plugging things in and out all the time. 3 pin sockets used in Ireland are probably the safest in the world, however they are still extremely dangerous for children especially who seem to love trying to put objects inside and putting them at risk of electric shock. Every socket within reach of a child should be covered up with socket covers. Babasafe socket covers are a safe and effective way to block off sockets, they are easily opened by adults with a lock and key system but difficult for a baby and child. Babsafe.ie have great value bulk packs of socket covers, you can check them out here .
- Cords - Cords on electrical appliances present a tangle and choke hazard as well as electric shock risk. Another danger with cords is that there is a risk of them being pulled at and knocked over. For this reason Try to keep cords as short as possible on appliances such as kettles, coffee makers and toasters while also out of reach and as far away as possible. If it isn't possible to have a shorter cord, keep them hidden out of the way and as neat as possible, you can get cord winds up that will do this or cable ties will do a similar job. Switch off any electrical appliance at the socket when you aren't using it and unplug it.
- Outlet covers – These covers provide maximum protection for appliances that are plugged in all of the time. Coming soon from Babasafe!
- Flat screen TV’s - They look great and nearly everyone has one but due to their slimline design they are much easier to knock over than their chunky ancestors. Furniture straps are a great idea to keep your TV in place and are available in stores across Ireland. Another option is to wall mount your TV.
Stairs & Steps: Securing stairs with gates is an absolute essential. Fitting stair gates to both the top & bottom of the stairs is definitely a good idea. Studies in the UK have shown that 35,000 children under the age of 4 fall down the stairs each year, while a recent study in the USA showed that every six minutes a child falls down the stairs
- Top & bottom of stairs – Be sure to use stair gates at the top and bottom of stairs. At the top of the stairs make sure that you use a non-trip screw-fix fate and fix it at the highest level. Pressure gates are easier to install however they feature a bar across the bottom of the gate which poses a risk for tripping, also if they are badly fitted a child can push them through. The bottom of the stairs should be secured with another gate, which should be no higher than the last step. A study conducted in 2012 demonstrated that a quarter of all injuries on stairs occurred while a child was being carried, these injuries are often a lot more severe.
- Bannister's & landing – Be careful of the size of the gaps between banisters as it could be possible for your toddler to fall through, especially on landings where children may be unsupervised as the stairs are blocked off with a stair gate. Bannister guards are coming soon to Babasafe.ie, if you would like more details please get in touch. Another option would be to use an extra-large safety gate or a room divider and completely cordon off the banisters completely.
- Step and step edges - Some homes have split levels, changes in floor levels can present a danger to babies, be vigilant if there are any steps in your child's play area. If there are steps, do they have sharp edges and corners? Prevent bumps and bruises from these corners and edges by using an edge guard from Babasafe.ie available here
The Babasafe Retractable Stair Gate is simple to install, virtually invisible when it's not in use and doesn't pose any trip hazard whatsoever as it retracts fully. It is ideal for across stairs and doorways
WINDOWS & BLINDS CHILD SAFETY
Windows - Thoroughly check all of your windows. Check which ones are in reach or could be in reach for little ones. Do you have any windows with furniture nearby? As we all know, children love to climb! Make sure that windows are locked when they aren't being used. Don't place beds or other furniture such as toy boxes near to or beside a window. For windows that open outward there are locks available and are coming soon to Babasafe. Please also be mindful that is vital to be able to escape in case of a fire, so if you do lock your windows, make sure that they can be opened if needed
Sliding windows & doors - If you have sliding windows and doors take a look at our clever sliding window/door lock
Tip: If you have lots of items on your window ledges such as photo frames and ornaments, these can attract a toddler and leave them open to risks. Avoid this by making your window ledges uninteresting for your child by keeping them clear of such items
Blinds - If you have blinds on the windows in your home, please be aware of the dangers involved with badly fitted and unrestrained cords, chains and wires as they pose a serious strangulation risk. In February 2014 new regulations for newly manufactured blinds came in to make them safer for households. Parents still need to be vigilant and make sure that cords aren't left hanging. Be mindful to never put furniture near window where a child can access a blind cord. Cord wind ups are available throughout Ireland in most hardware stores. For help making existing blinds and curtains with cords safer visit www.consumerhelp.ie/window-blinds
- Door slamming – Nearly everyone has a story to tell of getting their hands/fingers caught by a slamming door as a child (and possibly as an adult!). This can be avoided by taking the right measures. Door wedges are good idea but they are not completely reliable as people can often forget to put the door wedge back in place. Door slam injuries can be nasty and dangerous for little hands and fingers and can often end up in a visit to A&E, this is easily prevented by using a door slam guard, available at Babasafe.ie. Our door slam guard is so quick and easy to install and provide important protection for your child.
- Finger pinch – While concentrating on preventing door slam injuries, it can be easy to overlook the possibility of a finger pinch from the hinge side of a door. These finger pinch injuries can be nasty and severe enough that skin is broken, they can also occur even if you have a door stopper or door slam guard put in place. We recommend using our finger pinch guard in conjuction with a door slamming guard, check it out here
should not be left unattended in the bathroom or toilet according to the National Institute of Health let alone a toddler. This is definitely a room you need to make out of bounds without supervision.
- The toilet bowl– Without stating the obvious, children need to be kept away from the toilet bowl, apart from the germs that live there, extremely harsh toxic chemicals are mostly used to clean the toilet and eliminate germs. These chemicals, while deemed necessary to keep your toilet clean, pose a multitude of health risks to your child. Often cleaning products are left nearby to the toilet, make sure that these are out of reach of your little one. Monitor any interest in the toilet bowl and if you find that it's an issue, we recommend locking the toilet seat down with an Extra-Long Toilet Lock or a Toilet Lock, check them out here. Not all toilet locks are the same and as effective, you need to make sure that the lock will fit tight enough so that there are no spaces left where little hands and fingers can still get in
- Slipping. Be mindful that you have the correct mats in the bathroom, on the floor and inside the bath and shower, without a mat with sufficient grip it's almost certain that there will be a slip and fall at some stage.
- Bath - The bath has it's own risks - be vigilant with water temperature and test the water with your elbow before you put your child in the water. Needless to say, never leave a child alone in a bath, not even for a moment. Faucets can be dangerous for a child as there is a risk of collision but also burns and scalding. If possible do not run the hot water separately to keep the faucet temperature down. For extra protection you can use a faucet cover which will be available soon from Babasafe.ie .
- Faucets- Faucets can be dangerous for a child as there is a risk of collision but also burns and scalding. If possible do not run the hot water separately to keep the faucet temperature down. For extra protection you can use a faucet cover which will be available soon from Babasafe.ie
- Medicines & personal hygiene products - Bathrooms are usually full to the brim of these items which are dangerous to children and babies. If your medicine cabinet is within reach of a child ensure that this is locked and not easily opened by little ones, you can see our range of suitable locks here. Personal hygiene products such as shampoo, shower gel are usually on the shower floor or bathtub and within reach of a little person, not to mention razors, consider installing a shelf to store these items where they are not accessible to children.
FIRE & HEATING HAZARDS
With the colder weather setting in most of us will have our fires and central heating blazing. Fireplaces are one of the most dangerous places in the home for a child. Stove, natural, gas or electric fires are all a major risk to your child
- Cordon off the fireplace completely - Free standing fireguards can be knocked over easily and can cause severe burns themselves as they are often placed right up against the fire and become extremely hot as a result. The Babasafe Multifit Baby Fire Guard range has the ultimate safety features and will provide protection from the fireplace as it cordons off the area completely. It is screw-fitted for added security but it is also removed easily when you don't want to use it, for added convenience and ease, It is fully built right out of the box. Check out our blog on how to choose the right baby fireguard here
- The fireplace hearth itself can be a cause of injury, often made from marble or stone and with sharp edges and corners. A fireguard that sections off the whole fireplace will prevent access to this area, however during summer months when you don't have the fire on and you want to remove the fireguard the risk of injury returns. Take a look at the Fireplace Edge Kit which is soft, non-toxic foam and will provide extra protection for your little one by covering the edges and corners
- Radiators During colder months these can sometimes be turned up so high that even adults can burn themselves, remember that a child's skin is 15 times thinner than an adults, making it so much easier for them to get burnt. While not often necessary to have radiators up so high, if you wish to do so then consider installing a radiator cover which you will find at most DIY stores
- Tables - the most obvious pieces of furniture with sharp edges, coffee tables can be lethal for nasty bumps and bruises for toddlers, I'm sure we all know at least one child who has had an unfortunate encounter with a coffee table! If removing the table isn't an option you can use corner and edge guards that will provide protection against the most pronounced corners and edges. Glass tables have particularly sharp corners, the thin edge guard is what you require to safety proof these. While taller tables may be too high for your toddler to hurt themselves on, the table legs can sometimes have sharp edges, so you might consider covering these
- Other Furniture - Be vigilant with other types of free standing furniture that can be easily toppled over such as coat stands, bookcases, full length mirrors
Avoiding choking hazards is one of the main concerns for parents in child proofing their home. Choking hazards can be found in almost every room – The kitchen such as grapes and coins, the living room where there can be many small decorations and ornaments and toys from older children which while safe for them, may not be for your toddler.
- Size rule - 1.75 inches is the guide, anything that is smaller than this and can fit through is a choking hazard and should be out of reach of children. This is just a guide only, and of course some objects larger than this could also pose a danger.
- Plastic bags While it's brilliant that we recycle plastic bags here in Ireland, it is also important to remember that plastic poses a suffocation risk. Make sure that you keep plastic bags securely locked away at all times, if this is not possible it is best not to keep them in the house at all while your toddler is developing .
Lot's of new famalies in Ireland live in apartments. Each home has safety hazards but apartments have the added hazard of balconies. Vigilance cannot be replaced but here are a few tips for balconies
- No furniture Make sure that there is no furniture, or even plant pots, near the balcony railings where children could climb on. It is also important to note that even if the furniture isn't close, it's possible for toddlers to move the furniture close to the railings
- Vertical bars - Balcony rails in the form of vertical bars pose a potential risk for a child, if they are 5 cm wide or more, it is possible for a child to slip through. It's recommended to block them off with materials such as bamboo sheets or plexiglas. Be careful that you don't create a climbing frame in doing so.
- Horizontal bars - Horizontal balcony rails are easily climbable, also think about blocking these off and keep the materials used on the inside of the rails.
- Lock any doors to the balcony when you are not using them. You can have added security for your sliding doors with the Babasafe Sliding Door Lock
Tip: Don't allow toddlers and children to play with toys that they could easily throw from the balcony, this could cause injury to people below
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