Child proofing is an on-going effort for parents, as they try to keep up with their child’s developing skills and amazing ability to injure themselves on the most innocent-looking objects. There are many hidden dangers that new parents would not be aware of, so it’s important that you approach child proofing properly and regularly check that your child hasn’t outgrown previous efforts at keeping them safe.
As soon as your baby grows into a curious toddler, with their newfound running and climbing skills, all bets are off and you’ll spend your days (and nights) chasing them around the house as they run circles around everyone. There are some ways you can keep them safe when they manage to slip away though, so try a few of these tips when you set out on your toddler-proofing mission!
It’s the first rule of child proofing, but not many parents actually do it; getting down to a baby or toddler’s level and seeing the world from their point of view. The little things you don’t notice as you walk around the house are likely to be the most interesting objects to a curious child, so you need to make sure nothing is lying around that could pose a threat.
You’ve probably already thought of this, but the first things you will notice are the electrical outlets and plug sockets – just the right size for a toddler to stick their fingers in and get a nasty shock. If you’ve already got these covered, then you won’t need to worry, but otherwise it’s wise to purchase some socket covers that lie flush against the casing, so they can’t be pulled out easily by children.
Radiators and hot water pipes are another hidden danger that might not be immediately obvious. These can get incredibly hot sometimes and they’re all too easy for a child to reach, leading to some nasty scalds and burns. If there are any water pipes running along the bottom of the wall, it’s best to get these covered so that wandering hands can’t grab hold of them when you’re not looking.
When babies grow into toddlers the struggle to keep them out of harm’s way can become even more difficult, as they start to run and climb everywhere as soon as your back is turned! A big danger here is that they often use furniture to pull themselves up into a standing position, which is fine when it’s the sofa or a table, but sometimes the sturdiest looking set of drawers or chair can topple over under the weight of a child and injure them. It’s hard to avoid this when they’re not under your watchful eye, but it can help to make sure that any unstable furniture is fixed or weighted down so that your child can’t pull anything onto themselves.
Children are always getting in the way, and this often results in trapped fingers or toes when they start toddling off after you as you walk out of the door. There are different kinds of door stoppers you can buy to doors slamming suddenly, or door holders to prevent doors from being closed at all unless by an adult. This way you can stop older children carelessly slamming the door behind them when their younger sibling is around, or remind yourself to check around before you shut the door.
It’s not nice to think about, but some types of curtains and blinds can cause a choking hazard for young children, especially once they start walking around. The loops hanging from these can get wrapped around a child’s neck and strangle them within minutes, so it’s vital that these are removed. A better alternative to vertical blinds, with all their loops and ropes, could be roller blinds. These can be tucked away more easily than curtains or vertical blinds, and kept out of reach of children, avoiding any nasty accidents.
Once a child starts walking, the stairs present a big hazard. A safety gate will take care of any climbing aspirations they might have, but it’s worth teaching them to negotiate the stairs as early as possible, so that they know how to get up and down should they manage to sneak through when the gate is open.
Household items such as bleach, cleaning chemicals, or medicines can look like drinks and sweets to young children, so these need to be addressed too. Any cupboards containing chemicals or medicines need to be out of reach or locked; special handles or child locks can be bought that prevent kids from getting into anything dangerous.
Next on your child proofing checklist should be ornaments and decorations. What you have to bear in mind here is that children can find anything entertaining; even playing with a cardboard box can provide them with hours of fun, so imagine how exciting your glass figurines or pot-pourri looks to a toddler. Items such as these can look very appetizing to a child and lead to choking, or look like toys for playing with, leading to some broken ornaments and possibly nasty cuts!
Finally, the most important part of child proofing is to remember that you’ll never fully child proof your home. Toddlers can get themselves into accidents in the strangest ways, and the only way to stop them from repeating these mistakes is to let them find out for themselves what’s painful and what isn’t – you can’t wrap them in cotton wool! As long as you can eliminate all serious hazards from your house, you can rest assured that they’re playing safely with little more than the occasional bruise or bump on the head threatening them.