baby proofing
Safety

Baby proofing your home

Baby proofing tips from Tom Madden, Health and Safety Officer at The Coombe Women & Infants University Hospital.

Baby proofing your home may be something you do when your little one first arrives, put as time goes on it can be hard to stay on top of all the dos and don’ts of making your home safe. Take a look at the following areas of your home and see whether you can tick them all off as safe – it’s always worth the time it takes to check.

Storage

Store the following items well out your child’s reach:

  • household cleaning products
  • laundry product and weedkillers
  • sharp knives and scissors
  • hazardous kitchen appliances and DIY tools
  • medicines
  • cosmetics and alcoholic beverages

Edges and corners

Protect your baby from sharp edges on furniture and fireplaces by covering them with foam rubber or, where you can, use throw pillows, rugs and blankets.

Appliance cords

Don’t leave long electrical cords dangling for your baby to grab and pull. Wrap them short and keep them secured and as out of reach as possible.

Electrical sockets

Keep sockets covered with a protective cover or plastic plugs to avoid your child putting any objects into the sockets.

Toys safety

If you have any older children, keep their toys separate and out of reach of your baby or toddler. Punch or drill air holes into your child’s toy box, in case they ever become trapped in them. Preferably buy a toy box with a removable lid or else install safety hinges on the box.

Windows

Use childproofing guards on all your windows, even ground floor ones. Any windows that open more than four inches can be dangerous for your child. Do not place cots, steps, or other furniture adjacent to openable windows.

Blinds

Keep your baby’s cot away from any dangling blind cords or curtains. Tie up low hanging cords and keep them out of reach to avoid your baby getting tangled in a blind cord.

Kitchen safety

Keep your baby in a highchair or play pen when you are cooking. Keep pot handles facing inwards and put covers on the stove burners.

Safety gates

Place safety gates on both the top and bottom of staircases.

Furniture

Any furniture that is likely to topple over should be secured. This includes bookshelves, television stands, and chests of drawers. Any furniture that cannot be secured should be stacked bottom heavy so that your child can’t easily topple them over.

The fridge

Don’t use fridge magnets if you have a baby or toddler. Also put a safety latch on the fridge.

Glass doors

If you have any glass doors in your home it is a good idea to put stickers at your baby’s or toddler’s level of height. This will stop them from accidentally walking or crawling into the doors.

Cupboards

Put childproof locks on all cupboard and cabinet doors, as babies love to see what is behind the doors.

Tablecloths

Tablecloths can pose a danger to tots if they grab an edge and pull whatever is on the table down. To avoid this, secure all tablecloths to the table.

Out of reach

Any objects that could potentially pose a threat to your baby should be kept out of reach. This includes coins, small toys, nail scissors, etc. All medicines must also be put away.

Balcony safety

Keep balcony doors locked at all times. Do not keep objects on balconies that could be used as steps e.g. flower pots, tables and chairs etc. Never leave a child alone on a balcony.

Fire safety

There should be a smoke detector on every floor in the home, as well as near the kitchen. Detectors should be checked weekly to make sure they are working.

  • A fire extinguisher should be kept near the kitchen and near fireplaces. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions about keeping the extinguishers serviced or checked regularly.
  • A fireguard must be placed around each fireplace. Ensure that the guard is large enough to enclose the fireplace and that it can be fixed to the wall.
  • Always keep lighters and matches and any flammable objects out of the reach of children.

More like this:

Choosing the right childcare
Keeping kids safe in the summer
How to keep your children safe

Ask Allison

Q My sister-in-law and I both work three-day weeks and we help each
other out with child minding on our working days, which up until recently has worked out really well. Between us, our kids are aged between five and nine years – the problem is that it’s now become quite apparent that we have very different parenting styles. I prefer my two daughters (seven and nine) to have a structured day. For example, in my house, we have allocated times for television and iPads, etc. My sister-in-law, however, lets the kids run loose after school – homework is ignored and my kids end up wired after eating sugary treats all afternoon. I am considering looking at after-school childcare for the kids, but I’m worried that this is going to cause a family argument. Is there a diplomatic way that I can ask my sister-in-law to introduce some discipline into her child-minding days? It certainly doesn’t do her two kids any harm when I am minding them in my own house!

A
In a word, no, there is no diplomatic way to do this as it may very likely seem like your saying that your parenting style is better than
hers. As L’Óreal says, ‘now here comes the science bit.’ Dr. Kaylene
Henderson, a child psychiatrist, wrote a very interesting blog about ‘the
science behind the Mummy Wars’. She explains that before she had
children of her own she hadn’t been aware of how parents have a
very specific sense of the right parenting style. She also found that parents could be very definite in defending their chosen parenting style. Dr. Henderson, who describes herself as a curious, scientific, open-minded person, was surprised at how defensive parents could be and, at times, of their judgemental attitude towards each other. She explained the neurology of the Mummy Wars; okay, I’ll need you to bear with me for a second. Warning; I’m about to use some neuro-techie language.

Why do we judge each other?
As we have all had different experiences, this means that we all have very different memories stored in our brains. Most of our memories are ‘explicit’ memories – these are ones that we can recall easily such as important dates that mean something to us; important birthdays, special events or stories of and about our lives.
There is another type of memory called ‘implicit’ memory that plays a
key role in our parenting. This type of memory is the stuff that you do on autopilot. Psychologists call these heuristics or rules of thumb –
such as tying your shoelace, or driving your car (once you have learnt
to do both first!). Otherwise we’d really waste a huge amount of time
pondering over tasks that we have readily available to us. This seems to be where the science bit of our parenting style kicks in. This implicit memory goes all the way back to when you were an infant being parented by your parents. This is when you started the process of storing up how they did it into your memories.
Unless you make a conscious choice and effort to parent differently, what you saw and unconsciously learnt will be your automatic go-to parenting style.

We learn habits
This can really kick into gear when we feel our parenting style is
being mirrored or highlighted by disapproval from another parent. I know the cold sweat you feel when your child decides to make their outstanding bad behaviour performance at, of course, the most public and worst time. The implicit autopilot of how your parents dealt with these outbursts will flow unconsciously from you if you haven’t worked super hard to be aware and consciously change the old habits.
What’s happening for the on-looking parent is that they see you doing something they are used to doing, but you are doing it all wrong. Simply, because that is not how they know how to do it.

Find a way that works
You both have different parenting styles – who is to say which type is correct? You just need to know what works best for your family and that’s the bottom line. The irksome feelings won’t go away. You can talk to your sister-in-law, but I’m adding a caveat that it would be hard not to hurt her feelings. What we’re possibly looking at is that you prefer a more structured form of parenting, whereas your sister-in-law has a more permissive style. I’m not sure the two styles can mix, the mixture is a bit like oil and water.
If a collaborative shared form of parenting style can be agreed upon, then that is great, but our learnt hardwiring may prove difficult to change despite the intent to do so.
Perhaps, your own instinct of changing childcare might work best for you. In terms of making childcare work; the fit is ultimately the most
important aspect as you want a cohesive congruent feeling of the other caregiver to just ‘getting it’, like in any good partnership. Best of luck
with this and I wish you both well.

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ASK JESSICA

Q. I’m would like to start an exercise programme that will benefit my emotional health as much as my physical health, but I don’t know which type of class would be best. Should I consider choosing from yoga, pilates, tai chi, or could you recommend a class, please?

A It’s great that you have decided to get into exercise. The benefits to you are going to be great. You’ll sleep better, have more energy, better skin, reduced stressed, not to mention all the amazing physical benefits of your clothes fitting better, and looking healthy, trim and toned! My advice to you would be to try them all. Even if some don’t offer pay-as-you-go sessions, if you get in touch directly with the instructor, they will almost always let you try it out first to see if it’s for you. All of the above things that you mentioned are great for mental health, so it really will be a personal preference as to which you go for. On top of the classes you mention, all forms of exercise will give you great mental rewards so consider the not so obvious interval training sessions, bootcamp, and circuits too, as you will also feel on top of the world after a class like that.