Baby safety at home

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Once your baby starts becoming mobile, it’s time to think about making sure your home is safe.

There's a wide range of safety equipment available which can help make your home a safer place for babies and small children, and a little common sense and planning will help to both protect your child from danger in the home and prevent them from damaging furniture and equipment.

No matter how many toys your baby may have on tap, there is nothing as tempting as those adult objects which he sees you using every day. DVD players, mobile phones, remote controls, televisions, cookery equipment and pens and paper are all highly intriguing to small children, so be sure to keep anything that may be dangerous, or easily ruined by prying fingers, drooling or chewing, out of reach.

You may need to re-think how you organise your household storage – for example, medicines will need to be stored in a cupboard which is out of reach of your child, or securely locked, and you may want to erect a barrier or gate in front of the TV, stereo or video equipment.

Remember too that small and seemingly innocuous objects such as pen lids, paper clips or letter openers can be just as dangerous to babies and small children as knives and electrical sockets. If you have visitors to your home, try and keep handbags etc out of your baby's reach as little fingers will enjoy investigating these new arrivals and examining their contents.

General home safety equiptment

Baby gates: These safety gates can be fitted across the entrance to places in the home where you don’t want your child to go, such as the top or bottom of stairs, or in the doorway of your home office. There are different types available – some are like wooden gates, other are made of a tough fabric and can be rolled and unrolled when necessary.

When buying gates, check that the release mechanism is easy and straightforward to use – some gates are incredibly difficult to open and shut, or may require two hands to do so. You should also measure the width of the doorway or area you need to cover and check that the gate you buy will fit it – some gates can be extended, others are a fixed width.

Portable travel gates are also available and can be very useful when visiting friends and family.

Fire guard: we strongly recommend that you invest in a simple fire guard to fit across your fireplace, be it an open, electrical or gas fire. For further advice, go to our fire safety section. Never put objects above the fireplace which your child might want to reach.

Electrical socket covers: electrical sockets are just too tempting for babies, so investing in a few of these simple plastic covers is a good idea. They can be easily removed if necessary and then re-fitted.

Electrical cable tidy:these simple tubes are available from most electrical retailers and keep electrical leads together, concealed and tucked out of the way. If you have tall lamps, make sure they're firmly wedged behind furniture so that your baby can't pull them down on top of himself.

Window locks: these locks stop windows being opened by more than a small amount. However, you should never allow your children to play around windows, even if they are closed, since they can be hurt if they fall through the glass of a closed window.

Door slam protector: a simple plastic pad that fits around the edges of doors to prevent them closing fully and trapping fingers.

DVD/VCR & lock: this attaches over your DVD player or video cassette holder and prevents your child from inserting anything into the slot.

Corner guards: these plastic pads can be fitted over any sharp corners in the home to prevent your baby from hitting their head.

Pets: remember to keep pets’ food, water and litter trays out of reach. Nets are available to put over prams and cots to prevent cats from climbing in.

Non-slip rug grip: place non-slip rug grip under any mats which slide about on the floor.

Baby proofing your kitchen

Cupboard and drawer locks: fit locks to prevent your child from opening drawers and cupboards containing dangerous items such as bleaches or detergents, or from opening appliances. Alternatively, you may simply want to consider moving dangerous items to cupboards which are out of reach.

Cooker guards: a cooker guard is a plastic panel which fits in front of the hob to prevent your child from grabbing hot pans or fiddling with the controls.

Baby proofing your bathroom 

The bathroom can be a hazardous place for children, and you may want to consider fitting a latch which will enable you to keep the door closed when you’re not using the bathroom.

Non-slip bathmat: a mat which attaches with suckers to the bottom of the bath and prevents your child from slipping while in the water or getting in and out of the bath.

Medicine cupboard lock: always ensure that any medicines are stored either in a cupboard out of your child’s reach or in a securely locked cabinet.

Safety tap covers: these are inflatable covers which fit over taps, preventing your child from bumping or scalding themselves.

Never leave your child alone in the bath — even for a couple of minutes. Ignore the phone if it rings — they'll call back if they really need to talk to you; and if the doorbell sounds and you want to answer it, wrap your child up in a towel and bring them with you.

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