How to help make your home 'baby safe'

The home can provide many hazards for a baby. Here are some tips on how to help keep your little one safe.

So you’re the parent of a gorgeous baby. Your day is spent changing nappies, recharging on flat whites and, as they grow, encouraging your bub to roll, laugh and eat all their mashed pumpkin. Before you know it, your baby has morphed into a crawling/walking dynamo, and life becomes a series of tactics to ensure baby doesn’t injure themselves as they go about their day.

Here are some tips to help you ‘babyproof’ your home.

Before your baby starts crawling

  • Keep it clean: Crawling babies equate to little hands on floors and surfaces, and those hands ultimately end up in one place – their mouth. Try to vacuum carpets and clean hard surfaces with child-friendly cleaner regularly.
  • Lock it down: Secure furniture that could topple when pulled by your curious baby’s hands, and move furniture away from windows and balcony edges. Tablecloths may be functional and pretty, but babies and toddlers will see the edge as fair play – next thing you know, down comes everything on the table. Flyscreens keep the bugs out, but they’re not strong enough to stop babies tumbling out of windows, so never rely on them to prevent falls. In some states there are now laws to ensure window safety devices are installed on all above ground windows. 
  • Remove temptation: Make the pre-emptive strike by never placing hot food and drinks at the edge of benches and tables and removing all unsafe items from your baby’s (soon to be toddler’s) reach. This includes poisonous cleaning agents, medicines, toiletries and mothballs. Also remove sharp objects, heavy items that could fall on their head, and wires and small objects (like loose change) that could be a choking hazard.
  • Seal it up: Remember to cover unused electrical points with safety plugs and seal or put locks on drawers and cupboards that could squash their tiny fingers.
Baby crawling up stairs

Before your baby starts walking

  • Install gates: As your baby gets older and begins to crawl like a commando, or walk (however unsteadily), stairs can become fascinating attractions. So you’ll need safety gates at the bottom and top of stairs while they’re still shaky on their feet. They can be removed when there’s less risk of falls and your child is ready to develop the skill and strength to lift themselves up and down the steps.
  • Turn it around: Turn saucepan and pan handles towards the back of the stovetop when cooking – once your toddler gets a bit taller, a boiling pot of water may look very intriguing from their height. Also, remember to keep heaters and other hot objects out of reach.
  • Be present: It’s best never to leave your child unattended in a highchair or bath – falling and drowning are entirely possible scenarios, even if you just leave the room for an instant. Children can drown even in very small amounts of water so close toilet lids and avoid leaving buckets of water at ground level. 

Before your baby heads outdoors

  • Be alert around the driveway: You may live in a quiet street, but cars are still the most likely danger. When you’re out and about, teach your children that the rules that apply to roads also apply to driveways. Make sure all babies, toddlers and children are supervised when your driveway is in use, and when you’re crossing other people’s driveways.
  • Beware the backyard: Most of the time, backyards are fun central, with scooters, toys, trees and possibly pools to play in. But they can also pose dangers. Keep garden maintenance tools and poisonous pesticides in out-of-reach cupboards, and keep pool gates closed with childproof locks and check them every time your children go outside to play. Teach them not to touch spiders and other possibly dangerous bugs and insects.
A good way to help hunt down the hazards in your home is to explore at your baby or toddler’s own height. Get on your hands and knees and crawl around your home looking for the dangers. Plus, it’s a good idea to keep a list of emergency phone numbers handy such as your local GP, an after hours doctor service, and the Poisons Information Centre (13 11 26).

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