As a parent, you want your growing child to have a thirst for adventure and discovery, so that they can expand their horizons. However, since most of their initial exploratory forays happen in the house, you’ll need to make sure to make your pint-sized wanderer’s space is as safe as possible.
When should you start?
Advises Dr Wendy Sinnathamby, a paediatric specialist at the Raffles Children’s Centre. “Start childproofing your home just before baby starts to become mobile by rolling or crawling.”
According to Childalert, an online resource for the well-being and safety of children, some 500,000 children below the age of 4 sustain injuries as a result of accidents in the home every year. These range from cuts and burns, falls from windows or balconies, to even tripping over a pile of laundry or toys that had been
left on the floor.
It pays to be vigilant as danger can lurk anywhere in your house. Follow this checklist to ensure that you’ve covered all the potentially hazardous spots in your house.
The change table might be low for you, but a tumble off it can be severe for a fragile infant. “Never leave babies unattended on raised surfaces,” warns Dr Sinnathamby. If you need to get more diapers or wipes, take your tot with you.
Is your chest of drawers multitasking as a change table? Make sure it’s bolted to the wall to prevent collapses and put a non-slip mat on top to prevent your mini-me from sliding off.
“Avoid placing chairs or tables near window ledges as these might help your toddler climb onto window ledges.”
As the one place you should feel comfortable leaving your child on his own, get only the best. If it’s a hand-me-down, ensure it’s not rickety and the parts are in good condition.
According to the Us Consumer Product Safety Commission, crib slats should not be more than 6cm apart to ensure that your baby doesn’t slip through them. The American Academy Of Pediatrics also discourages the use of bumper pads in cribs as these carry the risk of suffocating, strangling, or trapping babies. Make sure the mattress is at the right height and don’t add any pillows, quilts or stuffed toys as these may lead to overheating or suffocation.
Always let your baby sleep on his back and cover him with a thin blanket with one side tucked under the mattress. Alternatively, you can put him in a sleep sack. When junior is able to pull himself to a standing position at around 6 months, lower the mattress.
As the coroner on the case of poor 4-year-old Darien Riley Zabiq who fell from his Yishun flat reminded us all: Install grilles on every window before your active toddler figures out how to climb on a ledge.
You can also install window latches that will prevent your little one from getting his fingers jammed or pinched. “Avoid placing chairs or tables near window ledges as these might help your toddler climb onto window ledges,” Dr Sinnathamby adds.
If your home has stairs, a baby gate is a must. Always remember to pick up all of junior’s toys (get him to help you when he’s older) and store them safely. Nobody wants to slip on a stray ball or bleed from stepping hard on a pointy plastic block.
Read on for what to do in the danger zones at home…
Make sure the water is comfortably warm before you put your sweetie in the bathtub. Avoid using a baby bath seat — it may seem like a good way to keep a squirmy baby in place, but it can tip over easily, causing injury or worse, they may drown.
Always stay within arm’s reach of your tyke at all times during bathtime. “Just a small amount of water can result in drowning or near-drowning,” warns Dr Sinnathamby.
Keep mouthwash and bath oils in high, locked cabinets — these can be deadly if ingested by your minor. Don’t leave razors lying around and never dispose of used razor blades in the bin, as your little busybody can easily reach in and grab them. You might want to install a lock on your toilet bowl, so little fingers don’t get up to unsanitary mischief or get hurt or crushed by the lid.
When you cook at the stove, never carry your cutie. Always turn the pot handles towards the back of the stove, so that junior won’t try reaching for them. Secure the oven door with an appliance latch and lock under-the-sink cabinets where the cleaning products are kept.
"Just a small amount of water can result in drowning or near-drowning.”
All other rooms
Properly secure bookcases, cabinets and any tall furniture, in addition to your flat-screen television, to the wall. When organising your shelves, stash heavier items at the bottom, so that they will topple over with less impact when your tot tries to pull them down.
Put safety plugs or outlet covers on unused wall sockets, so junior won’t be tempted to stick their fingers in the tiny holes. To prevent loose and dangling wires from being a strangulation hazard, hide them behind furniture or use a cable-cord organiser to keep them in place.
Use corner guards on any sharp edges, such as on low tables, so baby won’t bang against the corners. Keep hairdryers and flattening hair irons unplugged and out of reach when they aren’t in use.
“Don’t forget to use door stoppers to prevent doors from slamming and jamming your child’s fingers,” Dr Sinnathamby warns.
If you have a pet, make sure you don’t leave bowls of kibble out all day as junior could choke on it; clear the bowl the moment your pet is done eating.
After meals, remove everything from your dining-table cloth, since your little fella may try to yank it off, along with anything on it, which will cause the whole lot to come crashing down on them.