Once babies can crawl, they’re well on their way to becoming toddlers. Then, in no time at all, they can suddenly become fully mobile, able to climb and even be out of your sight in just seconds. With this new mobility comes exploration, the potential for danger and even possible injury. With that in mind, we bring you 20 ways to begin childproofing your home to keep little ones safer and further from harm’s way.
1. Safety Gates
Safety gates, strategically placed around the home, are a great way to keep your little one confined to a safer, controlled area. There are lots of different types available, whether new or second-hand, but make sure they’re made to UK safety standards. Some are suitable for doorways and others for stairs. Using safety gates to keep young children away from stairs, kitchens and other hazardous places really is a no-brainer and a great place to start with your childproofing exercise.
2. Clear Glass Safety
Clear floor-to-ceiling glass is also a hazard once children are mobile. Therefore such glass, whether part of a window, patio door, glass partition or conservatory should ideally not be clear all the way down. Otherwise, an unsuspecting child — or even adult — could find themselves running straight through what they thought was an opening. An easy way to ensure glass can be seen as a barrier is to use strategically placed stickers dotted around on the glass. These could be fun and attractive, for example little flower or butterfly stickers. Alternatively, you can even buy modern-looking ‘frosting’ strips that, when applied in one or more horizontal stripes or shapes at an appropriate height, will make clear glass more visible to you and your child. Guards are, of course, another possible temporary option.
3. Cupboard Security
Whether they’re in the kitchen, on the landing, under the stairs or elsewhere, cupboards can represent a number of possible hazards to children. Fingers can be hurt if shut in the doors or near the hinges and the cupboards themselves can contain any number of dangerous things. Therefore, it’s wise to obtain some childproof locks, latches or catches for cupboard doors that you don’t want your child to be able to open. These are often simple, easy to affix (and remove when children are older) and can be inexpensive if you shop around.
4. Window & Door Security
Similarly, ensure that entrance/exit doors throughout your home are secure where they need to be. Front doors, doors to gardens, balconies and patios all need to be particularly well secured from access by young children, whether through locks, latches or specialist childproofing mechanisms (there are lots available on the market). Similarly, windows need to be secure and that’s never more true than when there’s a nasty drop the other side.
5. Door Stops & Wedges
Door stops and door wedges are a simple and inexpensive way to make doors safer to little ones. With children’s fingers small enough to get into hinges, under doors or to be potentially shut in them when they close, door stops, door wedges and ‘finger guards’ are a complete no-brainer and are quick and easy to affix.
6. Hazardous Machines & Gizmos
Everything with a motor or moving parts is a potential hazard to small children. The obvious items to keep well beyond their reach are tools like drills and saws along with household appliances like vacuums, food mixers and coffee-makers. However, larger things like washing machines, tumble driers, dishwashers and any appliance with a door that they could climb into are also potentially very dangerous for little ones. It may even take a combination of precautions to keep children safe from such hazards.
7. Hazardous Products
Another reason to keep little ones out of cupboards and certain areas of the home is to keep them safe from hazardous products. Some things will be poisonous and others may be corrosive. Dishwasher and laundry pods need to be stored well out of children’s reach as do medicines, cleaning products and DIY items like paint, solvents and glues. Any of these could prove fatal if they get into little hands. Remember, too, that children learn to climb, so even cupboards high up need to be secured.
8. Smoke Alarms
Smoke alarms suitably located around the home are one of the most basic precautions any parent or carer can make. Countless lives are saved each year due to smoke alarms. Sadly, though, many are also lost due to them not being present or due to batteries having expired. So, ensure that smoke alarms are ideally in every room as well as being in hallways, stairwells and so on. Also test them regularly to ensure batteries are in good, working order.
9. Carbon Monoxide Alarms
It’s the same with carbon monoxide alarms although you usually need less of them (it’s best to follow instructions when you’ve purchased them). Carbon monoxide is a silent killer as it can’t be seen or smelt. Detectors are therefore wise in homes that have a heater or heating system, even if it’s in an adjoining garage or property (gas can travel). Remember to check and test batteries too, of course.
10. Electric Point ‘Protector’ Inserts — Good or Bad?
Electrical shocks are nasty, even when a household has circuit-breakers (as indeed they should). Therefore, many might assume that plastic socket ‘blanking’ inserts would be a wise addition to electrical outlets around the home, particularly as they are often located within easy reach of little fingers. Nowadays in the UK, however, power socket blanking inserts have become controversial and indeed the Department of Health has condemned their use due to safety concerns. More information about the dangers of socket inserts can be read in the Department of Health’s safety alert here. Ofsted, meanwhile, does not offer any specific guidance on the topic. Children also need to be educated generally about electrical hazards, of course, keeping away from power points, avoiding yanking out plugs, keeping water away from power sources and so on.
11. Wire Tidiness
For similar reasons, it’s also wise to keep electrical wire cords tidy and out of reach of little ones. If they were to pull a kettle lead or trip over an electric iron lead, for example, the potential outcomes do not bear thinking about. Cords on telephones and electrical appliances are also choking hazards, of course. So, keep them out of harm’s way i.e. well out of grabbing and tripping distance.
12. Pull Cord Precautions
Dangling pull-cords on window blinds have, regrettably, been the cause of several deaths around the world. If they’re dangling down, small children could get these wrapped around their necks and potentially strangle themselves. Any toggle on the end of the cords can also be a choking hazard. So, if you have any of these in your home, ensure they are tied safely out of reach, ideally using the safety fitments that often come with new blinds, or are available inexpensively. The same kind of approach may also be needed in rooms where the electrical light, shower or extractor switch comes in a pull-cord form.
13. Heated Appliances
Heat sources are a terrible hazard for children and adults alike. However, little ones will seldom realise the hazards, so parents and guardians need to ensure that all heat sources are kept well out of children’s reach. Examples include hair straighteners, irons, kettles, sandwich makers, pots and pans that have been on the cooker, and so on. With regard to cookers, hobs, grills, and ovens, it’s the children that need to be kept away from them, of course. Even a switched-off oven can still have a door that’s retained enough heat to burn little hands. A combination of several of the precautions outlined in this page may therefore help to make complete safety feasible in the kitchen and anywhere there are appliances that heat up.
14. Home Heating
Radiators, heaters and, of course, fires, stoves and any other heat source in fireplaces are terribly dangerous things for children. Therefore radiator covers, fire guards, permanent vigilance and a good dose of common sense should enable parents and carers to keep children well away from such heat sources.
15. Sharp Objects
Similarly, supervising adults must ensure that all sharp objects are well out of reach of little hands. Scissors, knives, razors, needles, hand tools like saws and screwdrivers must be locked well away and never left lying around. Even pens and pencils are sharp and dangerous around eyes, when you think about it. So, it’s imperative that parents/guardians are vigilant and supervise at all times when it comes to anything sharp or pointed.
16. Sharp Corners
Corners and edges of furniture or household equipment can be nasty things for children to bang themselves against, particularly corners of things like stone coffee tables or timber units. You wouldn’t want to fall and bang your head against a corner like that! Luckily, it’s possible to purchase ‘bumper covers’ (a.k.a. ‘bumpers’) that can pad hard edges and corners such as these. Then, if the worst happens, at least the child is protected. Vigilance will still be needed, however, as bumpers can only go so far.
17. Choking Hazards
Choking on small objects is, of course, a common worry for parents of the very youngest children. Anything that’s small enough to block an airway, or to make a child choke, should be tidied away to somewhere they can’t access it.
Table cloths and table runners may look attractive but are another hazard around children, albeit a less obvious one. They look innocuous enough, but should a child grab one end and walk or fall way, they could end up with all sorts of things crashing upon them. When you think about what goes on tables (e.g. glassware, candles, china etc.), this could potentially be disastrous. So, the best advice is to completely avoid their use around young children and certainly never to allow any edges to hang down at ‘grabbing’ height.
19. The Not-Always-So-Great Outdoors
Supervised access to the garden or other outdoor space or environment is good for even the youngest of children. However, they must never be allowed to just wander into the garden or street unaccompanied (of course). There are countless dangers outside, including poisonous plants, stranger danger, cars and many other hazards. Even in your own garden there are usually hazards, from steps, inclines and level drops to dangerous garden tools plus another type of hazard we’ll see in our last tip below. Therefore exit points in the property need to be secure (see tip #4 above) and supervised at all times around the very young.
20. Water Hazards
Gardens often have ponds or, if you’re lucky enough, hot tubs and even swimming pools. These are all hazards to young children. Even a puddle is a potential drowning hazard to the very young. It’s the same indoors, with baths and even basins of water being potential drowning hazards. So, once again, parents and any supervising adults need to be doing just that, i.e. supervising anywhere there is water. For different reasons, that’s even more the case around hot water, of course, and anywhere a child could potentially splash or pour water near electrics.
So, the main requirements for the safety of children are a continuous risk assessment, installing measures to reduce any risks identified, plus vigilance and supervision around young children at all times.
Little Cedars Nursery & Pre-school: an Outstanding Childcare Service in Streatham
Our Nursery is in Streatham, close to Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury & Colliers Wood
Are you searching for the best nurseries or pre-schools in the Streatham area? Little Cedars is a wonderful nursery/pre-school offering an outstanding weekday childcare service for babies and children under-five. Our childcare setting is also very near to Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood, so may also suit you if you live or work in any of those London locations.
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The ideas above are only a starting point. Every parent, carer or guardian is advised to methodically risk assess their home and any environment their child is likely to gain access to — and to take the appropriate safety precautions for their own particular child and situation.