Childproofing Your Home - No Room for Error

Tuesday, 19.07.2016

The title says it all, literally – especially when it comes to babyproofing your home! Read on for our roundup of proofing priorities.

On average, most healthy tots will start crawling from about 7-10 months. Crawling is a strong indicator that baby will attempt to balance on two legs to start walking soon, and they do so from approximately 9-16 months. And, according to renowned paediatrician William Sears, over 50% of babies will be walking – albeit to the beat of their own drum – by the time they hit 12 months.

Between crawling and making more concerted efforts to walk, most babies will typically begin to “cruise” – that is, learning to hoist themselves up to a standing position before literally taking baby steps to move forward. To steady themselves, babies will reach out for anything within immediate reach for balance and support. The most likely objects babies will have access to are pieces of furniture and gradually, as their coordinated motor skills develop, so too, will their self-confidence as they pick up courage, stability, speed and accessibility in their learning-to-walk journey.

In what will seem like a blink of an eye, parents soon learn that even turning their backs for a second can be somewhat risky business. An unsupervised, cruising baby can go places very quickly and his curiosity and natural clumsiness can render him accident-prone: knocking over and/or pulling down items; touching things he shouldn’t; tripping, falling over or slipping on something left on the floor… the list goes on.

Some areas in the home have more lurking “dangers” than other parts of the house, and that’s why it is so imperative to safety proof all rooms in your home and not just those where baby spends most of his time, like the nursery or living room.

We are certainly not advocating restricting baby to just his playpen or treating your home like a potential minefield. As much as possible, parents should try to give their baby more opportunities and room to roam about as freely as possible. That’s why it is advised to baby-proof your home well in advance (recommended when baby is aged 3 - 6 months) rather than be caught unawares when the time finally does come when baby starts becoming mobile. 

Babyproofing needn’t require a major overhaul to your home or lifestyle, even though the idea may appear intimidating to new parents. Responsibility means taking action, and even if some adjustments seem minor and involve just simple common sense (e.g. keeping sharp objects like scissors and knives out of sight; securing your medicine cabinet with a small padlock), nothing is too insignificant when it comes to enhancing baby’s safety and your peace of mind!

We’ve done a sweep of the entire house to compile a handy list of babyproofing tips that can be implemented throughout your home. As mentioned, no extensive renovation works needed! Stay safe!

Tip-Top Safety with Top Tips

Common items and areas where extra precautions are needed:

  • Windows: Ensure windows are not more than 4 inches open and secured with padlocked grilles or sealed with netting. Blinds or any other coverings should not have cords as these pose a strangulation risk; have them replaced with newer cordless types.
  • Electrical outlets: Replace all sockets with childproof ones. If this is not feasible, use outlet covers (for sockets constantly in use), outlet plates (for sockets occasionally in use; these usually have a sliding cover that can be moved when the socket is required); and outlet plugs (for sockets rarely or seldom used).
  • Electrical cables, cords, adapters: This cluster of cords and wires is usually found in the living room, bedroom or study and is normally traced to: TV set, media players, gaming console, computer, phone charger. Their accompanying cables and cords are not only unsightly, but pose as an electrocution risk too. Minimise access by using cable organisers, cord shorteners, reel winders as well as adapter covers.
  • Electrical appliances: Wherever these are located in the home, make it a habit to unplug and switch these off when they are not in use.
  • Furniture: Attach corner and edge guards to tables, desks or counters with sharp edges. Heavy or unstable furniture such as bookcases, chests of drawers, cabinets, etc., should be securely attached to the wall with tip-over restraints/brackets, or at the bottom with floor anchors. Put heavy objects in the lowest drawers/shelves and not on top. If you have previously placed breakable, decorative items like figurines, vases, etc. on furniture tops for display, these must be moved to alternative locations where baby is unable to reach them. Also refrain from using tablecloths and other fabric coverings as baby may tug at the edges, pulling down everything else that may be on top of these surfaces.
  • Kitchen/Bathroom/Staircases/Other “restricted” Rooms: Prevent baby from gaining access to these areas by using safety gates, or doorknob covers and locks. For the bathroom or toilet, ensure that all tubs or pails are emptied of water as babies have been known to drown in water with just a 1-inch depth. Use a toilet seat lock, and non-slip tiles and mats on the floor to prevent falls. Even though you are restricting access to the kitchen with a safety gate, take extra care by using stove knobs, lock away sharp objects and unplug appliances when not in use like toasters and blenders. When cooking, use the stove’s back burners, turn pot handles toward the back of the stove, and keep hot pots and pans out of reach.
  • Household products/medicines/Other toxic chemicals: Keep these away out of sight and reach in cabinets and drawers. Reinforce non-access by keeping these locked with their own keys, or use safety latches or mini padlocks/combination locks for added reassurance.
  • Plants: Some plants may be poisonous; in any case, there is a risk your baby may accidentally consume the soil or gel the plant is grown in. Move the plants out of reach or out of the home if possible. Otherwise, seal the top of the pot with cling-wrap, plastic or fine mesh to minimise access to its contents.

Last but not least, practise good housekeeping until it becomes a habit! Make sure all floors and surfaces are clean, and should you spot any potential choking hazards or other small items like coins lying around, promptly keep these in their proper place.

Notes on Safety Gates:

1. Safety gates are available as wall-mounted (permanently affixed to the wall) or pressure-mounted types (portable and pressed on opposing walls).
2. Before buying, come prepared with the width measurements of the doorway. Gate extensions are also available for larger door openings.
3. A gate should be at least three-quarters of your child’s height, i.e., 22”/60cm high at least.
4. Any slat openings must be vertical and less than 3 inches apart (the narrower, the better), so that there is insufficient space for baby to get his head, hands or feet trapped in between.
5. Wall-mounted gates should only be used at the top of staircases, for maximum safety. When installing, the gate should swing open towards the landing and not the top of the stairs.

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