Guide written by:
Pauline, Self-taught handyman, Leeds
Household accidents are a leading cause of death in young children. There are many dangers around the home that can lead to incidents such as falls, burns, poisoning and electrocution. Fortunately there are many solutions available to make your home safe and minimise the risk of accidents for babies and toddlers.
- Potential dangers
- Electrical sockets and switches
- Doors and windows
- Furniture corners
How to reduce the risk of electrocution
Up to the age of one, the most household accidents take place in the kitchen, bathroom or bedroom.
Curious young hands are always reaching around in search for things to touch and may landing on switches or sockets. In fact, from the age of about three months, babies will grab pretty much anything that comes within their reach.
It's important to plan ahead for this exploratory behaviour before it begins. What's more, babies often have wet fingers from putting them in their mouths which increases the risk of electrocution.
Removable plug covers
Removable plug covers are among most straightforward and easily accessible solutions. Choose from discreet white or transparent covers, or go for decorative, coloured or fun designs. You simply need to clip the device onto a plug socket. Once the cover is in place, young children won't have to strength or dexterity to remove it.
It is also possible to arrange your nursery so that your furniture covers up some of your plug sockets. You can then rest easy knowing that these particular plug sockets are completely out of reach.
Another tip: anticipate your baby's movements as much as possible. For example, your baby will eventually be able to stand up in their bed and will then have access to the wall around the cot. It is best to measure things out in advance to ensure that no switches or live sockets can be accessed from cots or changing tables.
Watch out for windows, doors and railings
Toddlers have boundless imaginations. In fact, standards for cots have had to evolve over time to limit the risk of legs and arms – or even heads – getting trapped between bars.
If your nursery has a window, you'll have to be even more careful. Depending on the height of the window, you may have to install a safety rail. At the same time, bear in mind that toddlers can be surprisingly agile! Children as young as two are able to climb and all it takes it one foot to land on a toy, another on the radiator and they've reached the window frame. A basic child safety lock can be screwed into the window to help put your mind at rest. That said, the easiest option is to air out the room when your baby is not in it!
When it comes to railings, balconies or terraces, it's wise to pre-empt any climbing games by installing a mesh grid or reed screen over any bars.
As a general precaution, weigh up any potential risks and, of course, don't leave your toddler unsupervised for a minute!
Avoiding burns in the kitchen
Kitchens contain a number of heat sources meaning there are plenty of different ways to get burnt. So how can you protect your baby around the kitchen?
- protect your hob using a glass cover when it is not in use;
- install a built-in oven at a safe height and fit it with a heat-resistant door;
- keep your baby at a safe distance while you prepare your meals.
While you've got something cooking on the hob – be it a pot of pasta water or a pan of veggies – the safest thing to do is to place your baby in a high chair or in a playpen. Remember: anticipating hazards is one of the most effective ways to prevent household accidents for babies and toddlers.
How to prevent access to cupboards
Children are explorers by nature and instinctively want to touch everything and put things in their mouths from a very young age.
So which household items should you keep out of the reach of children? Pretty much everything! But you should pay special attention to the following items:
- Sharp objects.
- Chemical products such as detergents.
- Household cleaning products such as washing liquid.
- Breakable objects such as glasses.
- Pointed objects such as cocktail sticks or even forks.
- and so on.
How can I stop my baby getting their hands on everything? There are no miracle solutions and most parents will just have to be sure to keep as many potentially dangerous objects as possible out of the reach of their children. Another danger for little fingers: sliding doors.
Specialist shops sell a range of childproofing devices designed for doors. Most are simply stuck across the door and door frame while a plastic fastener acts as a catch to keep the door closed. You can also find baby and childproofing locks for cupboards, fridges and anything else that opens.
As an adult, it's a good idea to imagine that anything that can be opened or closed could present a serious danger for young children.
Securing your stairways:
One way or another, you'll have to limit your child's movements once they reach crawling age (generally around 6 to 9 months). Falls happen quickly.
The safest way to adapt your home is to install a security gate. Choose from the following types of security gate:
- An old-fashioned accordion gate that folds to open.
- A hinged gate with fixed bars.
If possible, it's a good idea to install a gate at the kitchen doorway to avoid little hands finding their way to hobs or into cutlery drawers.
Cover table edges to prevent bumps
When your baby first starts to move around, pull themselves up and take their first steps, they haven't quite mastered their sense of balance. Later on, your baby will start moving around on their own without much awareness of speed so falls at this stage are also fairly common. Table corners remain one of the most dangerous points in the entire home.
To protect your baby against bumps and more serious injuries, be sure to cover up the corners of your tables and other furniture. Choose from stick-on corner strips designed to be cut to size or corner guards.
Feel like a change? An oval or round table will mean there are at least four less sharp corners in your home!
Creating a safe environment
There are plenty of options designed to create a safe space for your baby.
If you need to slip away for a minute or two (for example, to answer the door, take a pot off the stove or answer the phone) put your baby in a playpen.
There's no need to feel guilty about it! These pens are designed to be safe environments so you can rest assured your child is out of harm's way.
Guide written by:
Pauline, Self-taught handyman, Leeds, 107 guides
With a handyman-father, I grew up with the soft sound of the sander and hammer on weekends. I am both manual and cerebral (yes, it is possible.), I learned the basics of DIY and the customization of furniture because I was passionate. The salvage mentality is a true way of life that allowed me to know how to use all the tools and products needed to give something a second life, from sander to varnish. I have two favorite activities: the transformation of old furniture and decoration tips. I am always ready to lend a helping hand to revamp a table or to restore a mirror that was intended for the trash that will become a friend’s centerpiece. I’m convinced that it’s possible to reinvent an interior by small, regular modifications, I constantly research low-cost, test ideas.