The truth is, once bub becomes active, they are more vulnerable than a newborn. Whether they are learning to crawl, or taking their first steps, they are much more likely to injure themselves compared to when they weren’t actively mobile.
So it’s time to take some practical steps to baby-proofing your home. This will help minimise the chances of an accident occurring.
It starts with you
The reality is you will need to make some changes yourself in order to keep your little one safe. Your baby is just that, a baby. They will only learn the importance of safety as they grow. It is up to you to provide some safe foundations for them in the early years.
- Never leave your baby alone in the house, or with a young sibling or pet.
- Stay focused. The evening time is a common time for accidents. You are tired and there will usually be a hundred different demands for you to cope with. Your priority is ensuring the safety of your little one.
- Make sure you know basic first aid procedures and you have a well-stocked first aid kit. In all likelihood, you may not have to use them, but it is far better to be well equipped with these skills and resources.
- Dress your little one sensibly. With an active baby it’s best to skip the scarves or any objects that could be potentially hazardous.
Keeping an active baby safe
There are many things you can do to make sure your home is safe for your little one once they’ve started crawling or walking. But a good place to start is to see the world from their perspective. Get down to their level and have a look around each room at the floor and walls. Then look up to about a metre or so in height to see what other objects may be potentially hazardous. Then you can make it safe accordingly.
The other key point about keeping an active baby safe is teaching them the value of the word “No.” You can start familiarising them with the fact that some things should not be touched. The reality is, in the early stages they are too young to fully understand why they cannot touch or play with everything they come into contact with. However it is a lesson that they should start learning early on.
Safety in the home
Until your little one is over the age of 9 they must not be allowed to do any of the following things:
- Be in the kitchen without your direct supervision (you may need to install a safety gate in the early years).
- Go near the oven. You can model the dangers of this for them by pretending to touch it and shouting “Hot! Ouch!” Make them aware this is a dangerous object.
- Be near the cook top or touch anything on it.
- Put anything in their mouths without your permission.
- Keep the dishwasher door firmly shut. If you need to unpack it, or place items inside, do so when bub is out of the way. The dishwasher contains a host of items that are sharp or potentially dangerous for your little one.
- Keep saucepans and fry pan handles turned in and away from the front of the stove.
- Put childproof latches on the drawers and cupboards. Some enterprising little ones will learn to get round latches so you may need to move things up high out of reach if this is the case. A suggestion is to set up a special drawer at their level with items for them to play with. A sturdy bowl and a wooden spoon can be a great way to occupy them.
- Keep the bin firmly shut. As a rule your little one will love the rubbish bin. As well as being potentially extremely dangerous they can also make a glorious mess. Try to locate the bin somewhere bub cannot access at all or put a childproof latch on it.
- Never sit your child on a counter top or bench-top in the kitchen.
- Keep all hot liquids out of reach, or preferably prepare them when bub is napping or not around.
- Store plastic bags up high and out of reach. Tie a knot in all plastic bags to avoid risk of suffocation.
- Never leave stools nearby where baby can climb on them and up to the bench-tops.
- Make sure all cords and cables are well out of reach.
- If you spill anything on the floor make sure you wipe it away quickly. This will avoid any runs and falls.
- Store detergents and polishes in a cupboard that is up high and latched firmly shut at all times.
- Never, ever leave your little one unattended in the bath. They must be supervised until the age of five.
- Set the water temperature in the house at or below 48 degrees centigrade. Remember when turning off the taps to turn the hot tap off first and then the cold one. That way bub is less likely to be burnt if they touch it.
- Pop a protective cover on the bath spout, this way bub is less likely to hurt themselves if they stumble in the bath or touch it when it is hot.
- Make sure you have a slip mat at the bottom of the bath to limit bub falling and bumping their head.
- Remove all electrical appliances out of the bathroom while your little one is in there. Alternatively, make sure they are stored up and away in a cupboard that they are unable to reach.
Doors and windows
- Lock windows – especially upper-storey windows.
- Buy window latches. These should prevent windows from opening wider than 10 cm, especially in apartment buildings and second storey windows. You cannot rely on screens to protect your little one from falling out.
- Make sure there are no chairs or objects they can climb onto nearby.
- To avoid doors potentially slamming and jamming little fingers place a towel over the top of doors to keep them ajar.
- Invest in some doorstops. These will help hold doors open and prevent them from slamming shut. Doorstops and weighted closing systems help stop doors from slamming suddenly.
- Teach your bub to keep their fingers away from the hinge side of doors.
- Make sure any cords for blinds and curtains are tied up well out of your little one’s reach.
- Lift any and all breakable objects up and well out of bub’s reach.
- Cover power points with furniture, or get power point covers from your local hardware store.
- Store things like cleaning products and dishwasher tablets up high in a cupboard that only grown ups will be able to access.
- Invest in a child-resistant cabinet specifically for medicines, aerosols, hair products, razors and poisons.
- Pop non-skid backing on your rugs to stop them sliding around and your little one from falling over.
- When it comes to small children and large electronic devices, there is always a potential disaster waiting to happen. Make sure to wall mount your plasma TV. Even if the TV is bolted to the stand there is a risk of it falling on a child. It is best to bolt it to the wall. These can be purchased at your local electrical store.
- If you have tablecloths or anything dangling over the sides of furniture, it is best to remove them until your little one is old enough to know not to touch them.
- If you’ve got sharp edges on tables or chairs you can cushion them with furniture guards.
- Attach bookcases and cupboards to the wall as these can topple over if your child climbs on them.
For further information and resources on safety
- The Childrens Hospital at Westmead: Safety
- The Children’s Hospital at Westmead Home Safety Checklist
- Child and youth health: Child Safety
- Kidsafe Australia
- Keeping Baby Safe
- Allergy Kidz Ware – Customised Allergy Alert Clothing for Children
- Blue Dolphin Swim Centre – Water survival and safety skills taught to babies and toddlers
- Crib Tent for Crib Safety – Make your baby’s crib a safe sleep zone today!