Life is always full of exciting changes, and no more so than when you bring your first baby home.
So now you’re a parent of a gorgeous baby. Your day is spent changing diapers, recharging on lattes and, later on, encouraging your baby to roll, laugh and eat his mashed pumpkin. Before you know it, your little one has morphed into a crawling/walking dynamo, and life becomes a series of tactics to ensure that your little one remains safe in this new world of discovery.
Tips on how to make your baby’s environment safe by babyproofing your home follow.
• Keep it clean. Crawling babies equate to little hands on floors and surfaces, with those little hands ultimately ending up in one place — their mouths. 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 it away from windows and balcony edges.
Flyscreens keep the bugs out, but they’re not strong enough to stop babies from tumbling out of windows, so never rely on them to prevent falls. In some states there are laws to ensure that safety guards are installed on all above-ground windows.
Tablecloths may be functional and pretty, but babies and toddlers will see the edge as one more opportunity to play and explore. One tug, and the next thing you know, down comes everything that was on the table.
• Remove temptation. Make the preemptive strike by never placing hot food and drinks at the edge of benches and tables, and removing all unsafe items from your baby’s or toddler’s reach. This includes toxic cleaning agents, medicines, toiletries and mothballs. Also remove sharp objects, heavy items that could fall on your child’s head, and wires and small objects (such as loose change) that could act as potential choking hazards.
• Seal it up. Remember to cover unused electrical outlets with safety plugs, and seal or put locks on drawers and cupboards that could squash a child’s tiny fingers.
• 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 bottoms and tops of stairs while your baby is still shaky on his feet. You can remove gates when there is less risk of falls and your child is ready to develop the skill and strength to lift himself up and down the steps.
• Turn it around. Turn all pot 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 his 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 high chair or in the bath. Serious falls and drowning are entirely possible, even if you leave the room for only 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.
Bringing home your first child is one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences of your life. Following these simple safety tips should help you enjoy this wonderful time with peace of mind.
Darrell Brown is the author of Raised by Our Childhood Voices. www.darrellbrown.com.au.