How to child proof your home
To do or not to do – is ‘too much’ too much or is ‘too little’ not enough. As parents you will ask this question a lot especially when your babies start to crawl, walk and then run.
Ensuring your property is safe for your babies, toddlers and young children is essential.
But where does one start? In my experience it is better to go from room to room and then lastly take a look outside and remember every home is different and the following is a guideline only.
Check all blind cords are up high and out of reach and ensure a toddler cannot put their head in them. I suggest having cord hooks and wind the cords around to ensure this doesn’t happen.
Power sockets protectors - the most effective and cheapest option are the plastic plugs that you insert into the wall sockets
All windows above ground level need to have child safety latches so that toddlers cannot fall out of them.
All homes ideally have smoke detectors and it is important that the batteries are checked 6 monthly – a good idea when to do this is the weekend of daylight savings.
Pot plants may be poisonous so check all indoor plants, If you are a potpourri lover and have this around at a toddlers height – this is poisonous so you will need to either put it up out of a toddlers reach or remove it.
Another favourite in homes are candles – ensure that these are again out of a toddlers reach.
In earthquake areas a lot of the child safety equipment that you can purchase double up for ensuring your home is safer.
Depending on the home but sometimes it is easier in open plan homes just to gate both ends rather than child proof all the cupboards. Wire racks need to be removed from a child’s reach.
If you are happy to child proof cupboards I tend to do any cupboard both in the kitchen, laundry and bathroom that contains all the cleaning products. Any cupboard or drawer that has knives then I suggest you do these as well.
Most electrical appliances now come with child proof locks and these are actually great as it stops the toddler playing with all the knobs.
Ensure all harmful products are either in a locked bathroom cabinet or removed out of a toddlers reach. Ensure that the hot water tap isn’t over the recommended temperature – this will help prevent scolding accidents.
Some families feel it is important to put child locks on toilets and fridges – in my experience keeping the toilet door shut is a lot easier to navigate than the locks on toilets but ultimately what you do or not do is what type of toddler is in your home.
Free-standing appliances such as TV’s or cupboards or drawers need to be harnessed to the walls. Many accidents are caused through this type of furniture falling onto toddlers.
Wall hangings ideally are secured on the wall to avoid falling.
If you have a fire place then use a safety guard that surrounds and is attached to the walls to prevent any burning accidents.
Coffee tables are well known for their sharp corners and it is a good idea until your toddler is walking to either remove them from the room or place protective corner covers on them.
In some homes it is easier to put the TV and cabinet inside a wooden play pen – this solves the problem of all the cords that are lying around and also ensures the toddler cant stick toys into the dvd players and if the home is rented then there is no need to strap the TV to the wall. Otherwise it is important to put all electrical cords in cord tubes.
For a toddlers room especially when they are moving from a cot to a bed, I ensure that all the furniture is safe. If you have lamps in their rooms I tend to remove for the time being or you can put cords into the cord tubes.
Storage containers in particular the wooden toy chests need to have safety catches on the lids to prevent them falling on small hands and damaging fingers.
Remember not to hang paintings or mirrors above a cot or bed.
I always suggest gating internal stair wells both at the bottom and top. When doing this though it is important that you can step through safely and the gate doesn’t become a hazard on its own. There are different types and sizes and brands that don't need to be screwed into the walls but are pressure mounted. It is important to check these on a regular basis as over time the pressure mounted versions can become loose.
Ensure that if there is furniture on the balcony that toddlers or children cannot move them to the edge and attempt to climb over. You will be surprised at a toddlers or young child’s imagination and their ability to push a stool or climb on toy to help them get either out of a window or over the side of a balcony.
It is important when you decide to baby proof that you ensure that the outside of your home is checked for poisonous plants and all tools and chemicals are locked away or placed out of reach of toddlers and young children.
If you or your neighbours have a pool, spa pool or fish tank, creeks running at the back of your property that they are adequately fenced to ensure the safety of your children. Any questions re fencing of pools check with your council as they have strict rules to ensure that children are kept safe around water.
Barbecues are a hazard so ensure when you are having a family barbecue that toddlers are aware of the danger – also be aware of if you are using a coal barbecue or emptying coals from a fire place that they are cool and disposed of correctly.
Dorothy Waide is a Karitane nurse and a leading sleep consultant who has almost 30 years’ baby nursing and sleep-settling experience in homes in New Zealand and abroad. Her consultancy BabyHelp is dedicated to teaching new mums everyday parenting skills and ‘mothercraft’ – find it on Facebook here. She has also released the book You Simply Can’t Spoil a Newborn – a guide to nurturing your baby in their first three months.