18 fail-safe ways to baby proof the house
When your little one has arrived, it's time to start thinking of ways to baby proof the house. Find out tips on keeping the home safe and ready for your children.
Your baby may be swaddled up at this point, but there are chances that the minute he gets more mobile, he would bump into things and hurt himself.
And if you have bought a babywalker, thinking you have averted an unfortunate incident, think again. A walker alone will not save the day, and neither will confining your baby with those child-friendly gates. You need to think of right ways to baby proof the house right away!
It is advisable to start as early as the baby is born. Smriti Sawhney, Chief Psychologist at ePsyClinic.com, Delhi, says, “Babies are explorers by nature and once they start crawling around a house that’s not ‘baby proofed,’ it can become a hazardous zone for them.”
To baby proof the house, look at it from your baby’s perspective. “You have to make your home baby-friendly so that the baby’s movement and play are safe,” advises Dr Tarlochan Singh Randhawa, paediatrician, BM New Born & Child Care Centre, Jalandhar.
“Concentrate on major danger areas such as toys, kitchen, stairs, bathroom and the bath tub, furniture, ramp, pets in the house, window blind cords and plants,” he points out.
Child safety should be held with utmost importance with kids in the house, regardless of their age. In Singapore, there have been several accidents and deaths that have taken place due to negligence, and parents should address this before it’s too late.
Be methodical and survey the different rooms of your home one by one. This checklist of ways to baby proof the house should help:
- Bedrooms: Keep your baby’s room clean. Remove those super-cute bumpers, blankets, pillows and stuffed animals from baby’s crib. These have the potential to suffocate your child. “Mobiles with small hanging parts should also come out as soon as baby can pull herself upright,” says Dr Ragini Agrawal, director, W-Hospital by Pratiksha, Gurgaon.
- Bathrooms: Identify the water source in and around the house. “Safeguard your child from slips by using non-slip mats in and out of the tub as well as on any hard-surface floors near the bathroom. Chances are you’ll be chasing a naked, wet baby through the house at some point,” says Agrawal of W-Hospital by Pratiksha.
- Kitchen and prayer rooms: Identify areas that use heat or flames such as a kitchen or a religious place. The stove is a potential hazard especially for curious fingers wanting to fiddle with knobs, or reach out to that pot sitting over the flames. Prayer essentials such as joss sticks and candles should be away from the floor level where your baby would usually do all his explorations.
- Living room: Use door knob covers for doors that lock easily, especially in your living room. Also avoid leaving the key in the door locks.
- Stairs: Got a second floor? If so, a baby gate is a must. It comes in various styles and colours to match your home’s decor. This helps keep your little one away from the stairs and prevent accidents.
In every room of the house, take a thorough inspection of the following:
- Crib: Identify areas that can create risk of a fall such as the crib. Move the crib mattress to the lower level. Also, make sure the safety rails are sturdy and the gap between the rails is not too large for the baby to slip through and fall out.
- Cabinets: Identify areas where you keep toxic substances. Babies and toddlers explore a lot using their mouth. So the medicine cabinets, the garage or garden shed, or even in a purse or other place where medications are stored, should be above the height of your kid and not easily reached.
- Drawers: Always keep dresser drawers closed properly and make sure they have their handles on securely as babies may use an open drawer to climb on or may accidentally get their hand stuck in a partially-opened drawer.
- Flooring: Keep the floor and clean and remove objects on the floor that pose choking hazards. Anything that can be swallowed and can choke your baby should be removed immediately. If there is spillage, clean dry as soon as possible to prevent slipping, which can happen to adults too.
- Electrical chords: Identify areas to prevent electric shocks. Install outlet covers for sockets if you have small babies just learning to crawl. They can easily insert their fingers into the open socket.
- Electronic gadgets: Identify potentially dangerous gadgets such as computers, laptops, drills and hammers and keep them locked. Try to also keep your fridge locked. “Babies find the refrigerator a very interesting place to explore. However, it’s a dangerous place as they risk eating items they can choke on,” says Sawhney of ePsyClinic.com.
- Entertainment units: Place the television behind closed doors in an entertainment center, or mount a flat-panel model to the wall to avoid fiddly fingers playing around with the buttons, electrical wires or sockets.
Baby proofing also means arming yourself with emergency tools and know-how:
- First-aid box cabinet: When you baby proof the house, keep a first-aid box ready to deal with cuts, burns and bug bites. You can also train the elder sibling if he or she is old enough to handle a first-aid kit. The Singapore Red Cross Society offers first aid classes. Be trained in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) as well to provide for timely help with suffocation or any other grievous injury before actual medical help arrives.
- Arrange for pest control: Make sure to get pest control done regularly to avoid the presence of rats or mosquitoes to avoid various forms of infections and bug bites, especially Dengue Fever. The Singapore government and the National Environment Agency (NEA) have launched the ‘Mozzie Wipe-out’ Campaign to garner everyone’s involvement to check their own homes for breeding areas that attract the dreaded Aedes mosquitoes.
Apart from these physical changes, baby proofing also entails psychological changes around the house in order to facilitate a safe environment for the baby. This translates to making sure that the home is a safe haven for the baby or child, providing an emotionally-safe yet cognitively-stimulating environment for healthy development.
Sawhney of ePsyClinic.com lists four changes to psychologically baby proof the house:
- Avoid aggressive or emotional outbursts in the presence of your baby. Babies bloom the best in physically safe, warm and loving homes. Anger or other negative emotions can scare and scar our kids for life. Learn more effective and less violent ways of reacting to negative stimuli and remember your kids are learning from you.
- Know your kids’ reactions to people who visit your house. All visitors may not be safe for your kids. Look for fearful reactions from your baby towards specific people. Never leave your kids unattended with these people and never force your children to get friendly with people they are uncomfortable with.
- Provide cognitive stimulation. When you baby proof the house, keep things that are safe and that can stimulate your baby or child within their reach. For instance, keep interactive books for babies within reach or keep some appropriately sized cloth pieces on a side-table.
- Do not use TV/laptops/iPads as a babysitter for long hours. This may reduce the child’s exploring needs and may make your child technology dependent from a very early age. (READ: New AAP guidelines for children’s screentime)
While you chart out the various ways to baby proof the house, remember that exploration is the key to a healthy baby. Physically, it provides exercise and is a source of learning for the baby or your toddler. However, baby proofing the house alone cannot replace your supervision. For whatever reasons, you should never leave your baby alone in the home without an adult. This is to prevent any undesirable mishaps or accidents that can happen within the house.
Parents, let your child explore and enjoy every moment of their growing up years by creating a physically and psychologically safe environment.
Republished with permission from: theIndusparent