Child Proof Your Home Checklist
This article provides you with a great and extensive Child Proof Your Home Checklist for you to ensure that your home is as baby, toddler and child safe as it can possibly be.
Your house may not seem a like a dangerous place to you, but to mobile babies, toddlers and young children, the home can be a place full of accidents waiting to happen.
Why Children Commonly Injure Themselves
According to Kidsafe.com.au 58,000 children between the ages of 0-14 are hospitalized each year from unintentional injuries due to accidents. Sadly some of these accidents are also fatal.
Minor accidents are a normal and common part of the growing process for babies and young children. These little accidents teach young children co-ordination, balance, perception and spacial awareness and teach children to be cautious and more aware.
Where childhood accidents are not fine, are the ones that cause serious, even fatal injuries and that could have easily been prevented, if only the child’s home had been properly ‘child-proofed’.
How To Baby & Child Proof Your Home
Using a critical eye, thoroughly survey your home and also your garden areas, look for anything that may pose a threat to a baby or young child.
It is extremely important to remember that everyday household objects that may seem inert can be potentially dangerous to young children.
Be vigilant and stand by the ‘better safe than sorry rule’. The old rule of thumb used to be, anything that can fit inside a film canister is a choking hazard to a baby or young child. Look at your home from a child’s point of view and not from an adults, then give it a good child & baby proofing overhaul.
All parents and grandparents should know how to do Baby & Children’s First Aid, as it is significantly different to adult first aid. It is also important to do regular refresher courses in first aid, as the the techniques often change, but also it helps to keep them clearly in your mind. For more information on courses see – St. Johns Ambulance Australia’s – Courses in First Aid Training.
The Child Proofing Checklist
Small & Sharp Objects. Choking & Poisoning Hazards
Keep the following items well out of reach of babies and toddlers.
- Pens, pencils, erasers, stickers, markers, glue, glitter, stamps, rubber bands and other stationary products.
- Hair elastics, bobby pins, head-bands, combs, tweezers, nail files & scissors.
- Jewellery, bubble wrap, batteries, plastic bags, glad wrap, sewing kits, ribbons, rope, thread, loose beads and buttons, fridge magnets, older kids toys.
- Never leave food items lying around within a toddlers reach; e.g chewing gum, mints, lollies & nuts, or empty lolly wrappers.
- All chemicals and cleaning products medicines and vitamins should be kept high up in a secure cupboard.
- Sharp tools or equipment of any sort.
Hot Water Safety In The Home
- Turn your hot water unit’s temperature down to a temperature that is incapable of delivering serious burns to young sensitive skin.
- Never leave hot pots of liquid where children can get to them, the same goes with, kettles, tea and coffee cups, soups and even appliance that steam water; e.g electrical baby bottle sterilizers etc.
Child Proof Locks & Latches
Put these clever little gadgets on any appropriate cupboards, drawers, doors which contain objects that could be dangerous to small children.
* Remember even if there are child locks on cupboard doors, it is still important where possible, to store all medicines, vitamins, cleaning products, cosmetics, nail, hair and skin products up as high as possible, out of young children’s reach.
Baby Proofing Your Kitchen
A safety gate to block off the kitchen is always a good idea, but if you can’t fit one, then do not leave the kitchen unsupervised while the oven or stove is on.
- Kitchen ovens – ovens that are down low are seriously dangerous and many babies and toddlers have received serious burns from touching the outside of a hot oven. Remember young children’s skin is a lot more fragile and sensitive than an adults and will burn a lot easier.
- Stove Tops – never leave a pot handle sticking out when on the stove and never let toddlers or young children near the stove while cooking and even when not cooking, as it should be an off-bounds area.
* Remember -never hold your baby or child while cooking on the stove, or using the oven.
- Kitchen Appliances – keep electric kettles, toaster, blenders and juices turned off at the power socket when not in use and have them pushed back on benches, or in cupboards so little hands can’t reach them.
- Sharp Kitchen Tools – Keep all sharp cutlery, knives, forks, skewers, toothpicks, peelers and graters in a child proof locked drawer. Also the same goes for kitchen string, plastic wrap and plastic bags.
- Microwave Ovens – I am not a fan of them, due to the emf radiation, but, if you have one it should be up high and no one in the family should ever be in front of them while they are being used.
- Rubbish bins– have a secure lid on all bins with a child lock on them. If possible keep them inside of a closed cupboard fitted with a child lock, or alternatively behind a child-gated off area.
Baby Proofing Your Bathrooms
- First rule of safety in the bathroom or laundry for that matter is, never leave a sink, bath or shower with water in it, or water running when you are not in the room. A child can drown in just a few inches of water in as little as 20 seconds.
- Never, even for a few seconds, leave your children unsupervised in the bath. The same goes for showers, they are very slippery and young children can easily fall.
- Get into the habit of closing all toilet and bathroom doors if you have babies and toddlers, as toilets too, can be a drowning hazards and if necessary get a child-proof toilet seat lid lock.
- Again be mindful of the rubbish bin and keep it away from little hands. Bathroom bins often contain potentially very dangerous items; e.g. razor blades, dental floss, cotton buds and used tubes of medicines and ointments.
Child Proofing your Furniture & Home Decor
Children like to jump on and off things and no matter how often you reprimand them for doing this, they still will try again as soon as your back is turned, so prevention is the key.
- check out your furniture set up and if necessary re-arrange it, no matter how it aesthetically unpleasing it may look;e.g remove the coffee table from directly in front of your couch, to prevent children falling off the couch and straight onto it.
- Try and minimize the amount of sharp corners jutting out in areas where your children tend to run and play. If you can’t move the furniture then at least pad the corners with some some, safe & secure material.
- Keep out of children’s reach anything that is sharp, breakable or has small pieces that could pose a choking hazard; e.g glass photo frames, vases, decorative home wares and floral displays.
- Also if you have furniture that can easily be tipped backwards by a child e.g kitchen chairs, then make sure that the area behind the chair is as safe as possible. A child’s chair in-front of a glass window is not a great idea!
Lock your Home & Stranger Danger
Keep your front and back doors locked when home, so adventurous little explorers can’t escape. Children who are old enough to open the front door should always be taught about stranger danger and that they should never open the door to some one that they don’t recognize.
Baby Safety Around Curtains & Blinds
- Curtain and blind cords are a strangulation hazards and if not fitted with a safety child, should be wound up securely at a high level, out of a child’s reach. If your current curtains/ blinds don’t have a safety chain, you can purchase the fixture that attaches the cord to the wall from any place that sells curtains.
- Vertical blinds can be quite dangerous as they are linked together with chain beading or cord and therefore they are not advisable for a baby or young child’s room.
High-Chair Safety Tips
- Always do up the harness on your baby/toddlers high-chair, even if your child is only going to be in the chair for a short period.
- Make sure that you buy a safe high-chair that is sturdy, easy to clean and can’t easily be tipped over.
- Avoid cushioned, vinyl high-chairs as these are actually made from PVC. PVC is considered the most toxic plastic on the planet , it leaches out cancer causing dioxins. See more on PVC.
Baby Cot Safety Tips
A young baby’s cot should be free of all toys, and please do not use cot bumpers, pillows or quilts, all of these can pose a suffocation risk.
- Never hang mobiles off or directly above the cot if they have cords or small bits that could pose a strangulation or choking hazard.
- When a baby is between the SIDS danger age I recommend following the Mattress Wrapping Against Sids, protocol as set out by Professor Jim Sprott.
- A cot should never be too close to curtains or blinds where baby could get a hold of them.
- The cot itself should be well made, from safe, non-treated wood. The frame should be free of sharp bits, edges, loose screws, or areas where a child could get their fingers caught. There should be no spaces between the mattress and the side of the cot, as these two pose a suffocation risk.
- The sides must always be securely raised when baby is in the cot.
Electricity Safety and Kids
Minimize the chances of electrocution happening in your home. Make sure you maintain the condition of all the electrical wiring, cords, switches and switchboards in your house and it is also extremely important that your main switch board is working optimally. The best way to do this is to have a licensed electrician do a safety check.
- Power-points that are not in use should have a safety cover on them to prevent toddlers sticking anything into them.
- Turn off all electrical appliances at the power supply main switch when not in use; e.g your hair straightener, the iron, kettle, toaster etc.
- Electrical cords be it from phones, computers, TV’s, hairdryers, vacuum cleaners etc. are dangerous to little ones and they should either be securely fastened along a wall. You can now get from most hardware stores and baby stores, cord loops and wall holders.
- Portable corded devices such as irons, hair styling tools and laptop/mobile phone chargers. Extra care must be taken to ensure that young kids can’t reach them. Check out these great tips on Electrical Safety in the Home by Energy Safe.
Keep Kids Safe around Stairs, Windows & Fireplace
- Child Gating Off Staircases – using a secure child-gate at both ends is crucial. The gates should be of a high quality and have undergone and passed numerous independent safety tests.
- Free floating Staircases – these are very risky as a young child is potentially able to fall through the gaps between each step, or fall into and get stuck between the stairs, seriously injuring themselves. Also stand close by a young child going up and down them.
- Stair Safety – all stairs should have safe and secure banisters, or if enclosed by walls on both sides then a hand rail should run the whole length of the stairs. Stairs the have open sides are extremely dangerous. Stair Bannisters should have posts that are close enough together so that a child would not be able to fit between the spaces, or get their heads stuck between them.
- Windows – make sure that fly-screens are securely fitted over them and in good working order. It is also a good idea to have lockable windows, but just make sure the key is kept high out of reach of children.
- Fireplaces whether they are open wood fireplaces, or enclosed gas fireplace, should be protected with a fire screen, or hearth gate. Children should never be left unattended when a fire is burning. Fireplace tool safety is a must, keep these well out of childrens reach. Make sure your keep your fireplace clean and well serviced and never leave any objects close enough to catch fire.
Keep Your Pets Stuff Safely Out Of Reach
- Large pet water bowls are a drowning hazard.
- Pet collards, leads and chains.
- pet toys that have long cords or ribbons attached to them.
- pet food, medicines, flea and worming treatments, kitty litter, toys etc.
Once your child is old enough to understand, it is very important to actually teach them why all the above things are dangerous and why they must not touch or go near them. Repeat the reasons often, so they remember and it becomes second nature for them to be cautious, careful and mindful around certain objects in the house and garden.