Moving into a new house is a huge life event, and one of the common reasons we hear for needing a new home is to make space for a new or upcoming child in the family.
As parents, you’ll naturally be obsessed with keeping your young one as safe as possible. But you can’t watch over them every second, and you know the solitary second they have as you look at your watch is the second they’ll decide to run into a table or bite the dog.
Yes, having kids is definitely a full-time responsibility, and, as experts in helping you get your new home, we also offer you this advice on making sure the home you have/want is suitable for the pitter-patter of tiny feet.
Everyone knows about electrical socket protectors (and the controversy surrounding it), but not many people consider the dangers of doors for children. It’s not difficult for a young’un to trap their fingers in a door – that’s why you need better control on doors staying open or closed. You may wish to invest in doorstoppers and door holders, or better still some finger protectors.
While you’re investing in protection from injury, it couldn’t hurt to get some corner protectors for table corners that are roughly your child’s head-height.
Even babies know not to touch hot things, but that doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily know what is or is not a ‘hot thing’. Burns and scalds are one of the most high-risk areas for babies. First, and possibly most obviously, if you have a fireplace in your home then you need an excellent fireguard. The same applies to radiators – those things can get hot and on a sensitive baby’s skin that burn is amplified.
Be wary of liquids as well. Never carry your baby while also holding a hot drink (or indeed anything hot at all) and keep all hot liquids well out of reach of your child. The same goes for tablecloths that can drag hot or heavy items down with it if tugged. When it comes to bathing your child, the temperature needs to be comfortable for them. Put cold water in before hot, and test the temperature with your elbow. The water should feel neither hot nor cold. You can attach a thermostatic mixing valve to your bath tap to reduce the risk of scalding. Most importantly – never leave a child (under 5) alone in bath for any reason, ever.
Low hanging cables can get caught around necks and cause asphyxiation. Any cables or cords need to be tied up or cut to keep them out of reach. The same goes for any toys with ribbons. Make sure to keep bags with cords or string stored securely: depending how you store your bag, those cords could dangle down within reach of tiny hands. These cords don’t just cause strangulation, but could be tripped over and cause a nasty fall.
Also make sure you keep floors completely clear of any choking hazards, and that any plastic bags you have (shopping, recycling, trash, compost, sandwich – all of them) are well out of reach.
At around 6 months old babies start putting things in their mouths, regardless of how unappetising it may look to us. As covered above, this can cause a serious choking hazard, but poisoning is far more common an issue in households. People tend to keep their cleaning products on low shelves, for example under the kitchen sink. Move them out of reach or at least get some safety latches that can help prevent children from opening cupboards in the first place. The same goes for any medicines in the house. Also be especially careful of lithium button batteries that can look like sweets but are very poisonous.
There are also dangers to consider outside, such as in the garden. Your child may instinctively try to eat any plants, berries or fungi they come across. Keep track of your garden and remove any poisonous presence.
Lastly, remember that younger children are more susceptible to CO2 poisoning, so it’s a wise investment to get a monitor to track those carbon dioxide levels.
There are many other baby proofing methods you need to consider – we’ve just covered the most common dangers and how to protect against them. At the end of the day you need to rethink how you keep things in your home. Are there any sharp objects or corners you haven’t considered? Is there a tripping hazard? Do your pills or cleaning products look particularly delicious? A child’s curiosity is equally essential for their growth and adorable to witness: just be sure to stay on top of the risks.
If the worst should happen and your child is injured, it’s also important you know what to do.