Childproofing or baby proofing refers to making your home safer for your baby by identifying and removing potential hazards or risks of injury. More than half of all child deaths in children 1 to 4 years of age occur due to injuries. Most injuries involving under 5-year-olds are due to falls from height, burns, scalds, and poisonings. However, these accidents at home are potentially preventable if you recognize these hazards beforehand and take remedial action. Therefore, recognizing these risks and fixing them makes your home safer for children. This is Childproofing. In this article, we will take you through babyproofing ideas and tips on how to childproof your home.
Researchers have studied the homes of children with injuries and compared them with children who did not have injuries. They found that homes of children who had injuries had higher specific hazards for falls, choking, poisoning and burns. They also found that the presence of some hazards might indicate an increased risk for home injuries beyond those directly related to the hazard found. In other words, those babies who had injuries lived in a relatively unsafe home environment.
Is your Home Child Safe?
You should start childproofing your home as soon as your baby is born. In fact, you need to take care of a few things relating to your newborn’s safety even before the baby has arrived.
So, have you done your job? Is your home childproofed?
If no, you must do it now. If you have done it and are very confident that you have done a good job, chances are that you must have still missed something.
In the following sections, we will take you through a detailed list of things that you can do to childproof or baby-proof your home. I will not only suggest changes in your home environment but also suggest certainly do’s and don’ts in terms of our behavior as parents. Read on to find these baby-proofing ideas that you cannot ignore.
You may also want to read our articles:
- Why take injury prevention seriously and keep your child safe.
- Do not let your child drowning in a technology tsunami.
When is the best time to start babyproofing?
Babyproofing or childproofing your house is an ongoing process. You will always keep finding one or the other thing that needs to be attended to. But you need to start somewhere and carry on from there. Therefore, for ease of implementation, you may want to categorize things as-
- Before the baby is born.
- Before the baby starts crawling.
- Before the baby starts walking (and climbing).
You can further arrange task-list area wise so that you do not miss out on anything. You can make a checklist by listing things to be fixed in the bedroom, things to be fixed in the living room, in your bathroom, and so on. It is important to get the ‘baby’s point of view’. What I mean is that when you are standing you cannot see what the baby is seeing. To stoop down to that level, get down on your knees and try to find which dangers are lurking and inviting your baby.
How to start babyproofing?
1. Keep the sleeping area safe:
There is a debate on where should a baby sleep. Though there is a trend towards the cradle being safer for sleep, there is also strong data that co-sleeping is linked with a higher breastfeeding success rate. And we all know how beneficial is breastfeeding for a baby. So, you may choose to make your baby sleep in a crib or co-sleep as per your comfort. But whatever you choose, you must follow the safe sleeping practices for babies.
- Do not co-sleep with your baby if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs or if you are a smoker. On a particular day, if you are very tired or too sleepy you may choose not to co-sleep.
- If you are using a crib, then choose child-safe cribs. The crib mattress should fit right without any gap.
- The Sleep surface (mattress) should be firm. Do not use soft surfaces for babies.
- Do not leave any stuffed toys, fluffy cloths, or cloths with ties and strings in the sleeping area.
- Always make the baby sleep on the back.
Shop for more options at Amazon.in
The following two articles also might interest you:
- 10 Questions most new mothers have in mind
- 11 Normal things in a newborn that trigger concern in parents
2. Prevent access to a dangerous area
You may want to prevent your baby’s access to a potentially dangerous area like the staircase, balcony, terrace, water features, etc. In order to do that, you need to install baby gates in these areas. Remember, staircases should be protected on both sides.
3. Prevent Falls
Fall-related injuries are very common in children. How do I prevent falls in my child? This is a question that must be in your mind all the time if you have a toddler. Here are a few things you can do.
Baby walkers are a dangerous choice when it comes to child safety. It can cause serious injuries from a fall down the stairs and gaining access to things that otherwise they would not have reached. The dangers go beyond safety issues and also cause delayed motor development. The seriousness of these dangers is so much that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is of the opinion that Baby walkers should be banned.
Childproof your windows
Do not keep anything near the window so that your toddler can climb on it to reach the window. Also, use window grills to prevent a fall from windows. Nets designed to keep birds and insects out are not strong enough to prevent babies from falling over.
Use antiskid rugs
A toddler running around the house tends to skid on rugs and doormats. This can cause him to fall on the back of his head and sustain a serious head injury. So, make sure that all rugs and doormats are antiskid. If they tend to skid, don’t think twice… just take them off the floor.
Remove trip hazard
Look for things your child may trip over. You may have elevated thresholds of rooms which can cause a fall. Similarly, tools, materials, or cords lying on the floor may be inviting an accident.
Childproof your balcony and terrace
Fall from the balcony or terrace is a cause of serious concern as these would always be fall from a significant height. You must adopt these baby-proofing ideas to prevent any catastrophe. It is best to limit the access of children to these potentially dangerous areas by using self-latching gates. But, despite the executing limitation of access, you must also make sure that they are well fitted with adequately safe railings. The balcony safety grill design should include a height of 1 to 1.2 meters and vertical bars not more than 10 cms (4 inches) apart. There should be no horizontal bar or any design feature that allows your toddler to climb onto it. If the gap is more than that you have to use something like plastic garden fencing, shade cloth, clear plastic sheets, or plexiglass sheet to cover it up.
Secure your staircase
The staircase is another area of potential fall. Protect entry and exit to the staircase by baby gates. Make sure there are no rugs before entering the staircase. The railing of the staircase must be child-safe in design. if not make them childproof in a similar way as described for balconies.
The first image shows how I have childproofed my staircase. The second image suggests other alternatives available at Amazon.in for babyproofing staircases and balconies.
4. Prevent bumps into Glassdoor:
If you have a large glass door at your home then it could be a danger. Children can run hard into it and get seriously hurt. Use stickers or other features to make the door stand out.
5. Protect sharp edges and corners:
Babies can get hurt by the sharp edges and unprotected edges. You can use edge protectors and corner guards to protect them.
6. Prevent prick and cut injury:
Put sharps away
Keep your sharp objects like knives, scissors, blades, etc. securely in a cabinet with child safety latches. Put equipment like Sewing machines, needles, paper shredders, staplers, hole punchers, geometry boxes, etc. securely out of reach of babies and kids.
Glass items should be out of reach
Glass items like drinking glasses, water bottles, or a bowl are part of everyday household items. But you should use only toughened or tempered glass items. A tampered glass is twice as strong as normal glass and breaks into small blunt fragments. Children naturally get attracted to mirrors. Keep mirrors braced to the wall so that they cannot pull them down. Avoid hand-held mirrors. Use a child-safe one if you must.
Try avoiding types of furniture with glass panels close to the child’s play area. They are usually not made of toughened glass and may cause injury if they barge into it or break it.
Tie-down heavy furniture
Heavy furniture like book self, showcase, etc is at risk of falling over the child as they try to climb over it. These should be strapped or tied to hooks in the wall. Bracing heavy furniture will help prevent serious injury.
7. Keep heavy electric equipment out of reach:
Heavy electrical equipment like television, microwave, desktop computer, etc. may also fall over the child. These types of equipment should be kept out of reach of children. Television sets are best-kept wall mounted. Be sure to keep the wires of these types of equipment nicely tucked away and out of reach. This is because tiny tugs on it may dislodge them from their places and cause a fall.
Is your water filter wall mounted? If it is on a stool or a table then make sure it’s high enough for your baby to reach. They are naturally curious about water and may want to take water themselves thereby pulling the filter upon them.
8. Prevent pinching of fingers
Children naturally get pulled towards something that opens and closes…like a gate, cabinet doors, or drawers. They would enjoy playing with them for hours. But do you recognize that their tiny fingers can get caught and injured? In the worst-case scenario, their tiny fingers may even get amputated sometimes. So, childproofing cabinet doors and drawers will give you the peace of mind that they are child-safe now.
- Lock cabinets: To childproof your cabinets, keep the cabinet doors locked at all times. In case your cabinet does not have a provision to lock, then use child-safe latches.
- Lock drawers: Similarly, to childproof your drawers, use child-safe latches for your drawers as well.
- Childproof doors: Doors cannot be kept locked all the time. You can use a doorstop or a door wedge to hold the door open and prevent your child from playing with it. But someone may forget to do that sometimes. So use Pinch guards at door as a second layer of protection.
Shop for more options for pinch guards and other childproofing options at Amazon.in
9. Keep medicines and chemicals out of reach:
Keep the medicine out of reach and sight of children. It is preferable to keep them locked. Also keep floor cleaners, detergents, kerosene, insecticide, etc. out of reach of children. Keep poisoning the national helpline number near your phone.
For the US: The number for the American Association of Poison Control Centers’ national emergency hotline is (800)222-1222
For India: National Poison Information Centre, AIIMS Newdelhi Toll-free No 1800116117, Telephone no- 26589391, 26593677
10. Babyproof electrical points:
Electrical points should be out of reach of children and should have shutters. If your electrical points are within the reach of children then put socket covers. Also, do not keep electrical equipment like an iron, toaster, etc. plugged in. Take them off after use and store them properly.
11. Bathroom safety:
A child should not be allowed to be in the bathroom alone. It is best to keep the door closed at all times. Apart from the danger of falls due to the wet floor, there are the following reasons for concern.
- Keep sharp objects out of reach: Keep sharp objects like razors, scissors out of reach of children in a cabinet with a child latch.
- Keep Buckets dry: If children fall into the bucket head down trying to play with water, they can never get out. If you must store water, use Buckets with childproof lids.
- Do away with Bathtub: It is safer to use the shower.
- Keep the toilet seat latch.
12. Safety around pond and water features:
Drowning at home is a common accident and you must childproof your water body. If your water feature is not essential, then fill it up. Or else fence it and use a self-latching child safety gate. Use child-safe fence designs so that they cannot climb over it to get into the water.
13. Baby Proof Choking hazards
Keep choke hazards out of reach
Toddlers are curious and tend to put small objects into their mouths. That is why anything smaller than 3 cm in size is a choking hazard. Keep batteries, decorative pebbles, coins, etc out of reach of children. Do not give nuts, meatballs, etc to children younger than 3 years old, which they can choke.
Get safe toys
Choose toys that are age-appropriate. The toys should not have any parts smaller than 3 cm. Avoid cars with small wheels, which can detach. Teddy bears or stuffed animal’s noses and eyes may detach. It’s best to avoid such potential dangers. Do not use toys, which can break and give rise to small fragments.
You may get here some more great resources on childproofing your home and maintaining safety.
Just as children bring so much happiness to our lives, they also bring a lot of responsibilities. Child injury is a reality and it’s affecting so many children. Don’t get complacent. Childproof your home and make your home child safe today. If you have any experiences to share or any additions to make please feel free to write in the comments section below. If you like our article please share it.