Child-proofing your home

To a baby that has just begun to crawl, the home is full of curious wonders to be explored. This sense of discovery is healthy and is what drives children to learn, but it can also lead to accidents.

Every year around a million children are taken to a hospital after having an accident at home*. To prevent any harm coming to your child it is important to take some precautions and to childproof your home.

In order to understand what is tempting and within reach of your child, experts often suggest walking around the house on all fours to get a child’s eye view of the home. This way you’ll spot any nooks and crannies, unlocked drawers, or expensive equipment left in the firing line.

Hazards in the home

Drawers or cupboards containing cleaning equipment, such as under the kitchen sink, are an arsenal of potential hazards, so make sure you lock these or keep the equipment higher up. Remove any sharp or valuable items from all other lower drawers and cupboards, or lock those too.

Electrical appliances can be dangerous and easily damaged, so keep them out of reach. Curious little fingers also like to poke around in little holes, and the electrical sockets on the wall, usually found down near the floor, can be lethal. Special covers can be bought cheaply at most electrical or nursery shops to keep fingers out.

Stairs are another obvious hazard. Stair-gates are easy to install and you should fit them at both the top and the bottom so your baby is safe both upstairs and downstairs. It is also useful to check your stair carpet fits properly to prevent parents tripping on loose carpet when carrying the baby up or down the stairs.

Kettles, coffee pots and anything else filled with boiling water should be kept away from the edges of tops at all times, and leads shouldn’t be left to dangle tantalisingly over the edge.

Even furniture can be dangerous. Look out for sharp corners on tables and chairs, which can often be at head-height for toddlers, and cover them with special protectors. Any rickety chairs or tables may collapse under the weight of a child pulling itself up, so repair or remove them. Similarly, don’t leave dangerous or expensive objects on delicate furniture that could be knocked over by a boisterous youngster.

Fire safety

If you have an open fire or burner in your house, make sure you put a guard in front of it. You can buy child-friendly guards, which doesn’t become scalding to the touch after a few hours in front of the fire.

Windows and glass

Windows are another source of danger, so make sure they are not easy to open, at least not more than a few inches, and don’t leave objects under them that toddlers can climb on to get to the window. If you have sash windows, open them from the top, not the bottom.

Patio doors can also be a danger, particularly if the glass is clean, as a child might run into them. Put stickers on the glass so that your child knows the doors are there.

If you are replacing older windows or patio doors, opt for safety glass, which is toughened so it is less likely to break, and if it does it will shatter into tiny pieces rather than shards, which is far less dangerous.

It is also possible for children to get entangled in the cords of window blinds or curtains, so if your house has them, keep them out of reach of the children – or better still get some curtains without cords.

Ponds and water

Finally, if you have a pond in your garden, children will want to tip toe round the edge of it! Put a fence around it to stop anyone falling in. Another option is to drain it while your child is young and turn it into a sandpit.

While it is not possible to completely childproof your house, a few simple precautions can prevent accidents and make sure your most treasured possessions don’t end up in pieces.

*Source: The Child Accident Prevention Trust