Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Safety in the Home with a Baby or Toddler...

Having a 12 year old daughter it’s so easy to forget how hard it is when you have a new baby in the house, especially for first time parents. My brother and his partner just recently had a beautiful little boy, just a few months old right now and they are currently going through the huge task of baby proofing their home.

Being new and first time parents they are very protective and highly conscious of all the things around the home that can be a hazard to little hands. It’s bad enough when you are out and about at the home of others or in public places as you cannot control how well these spaces are protected and baby proofed so you have to be super aware of the baby at all times.

But when you are in your own home environment, being able to relax and just let your baby free is absolutely necessary to your sanity. Having to watch them every moment at home would be not just impossible, but exhausting. Your home should be your haven.

I thought I would share a few tips that I learnt when my daughter was young to keep your home safe with a baby, these are no in order of priority, after all, everyone’s focus, homes and needs are different:

First: Lock all external doors. This is really important if you live in a large city or right on a busy road, and especially if you have a backyard pool. Not only does it keep intruders out, it keeps babies and toddlers in and safe.

Second: Cupboard Child Locks. Yes I know, those childproof locks are frustrating and I lost count of the number of times I struggled to get drawers and doors open when our daughter was little. But let’s face it, a few seconds struggle with a child proof lock on your kitchen drawers is far preferable to coming into the kitchen and seeing your 18 month old playing with sharp knives because he managed to get into the drawers, or watching a toddler guzzle down cleaning products they found under the sink that looked like cordial.

Third: Animals. Now I know this is personal preference and every case is different and animals are a part of your family, but I have to say I think it is best to keep animals away from newborns and infants and let them slowly learn to adjust to the new member of
your home. Cats especially can be a problem as they can climb into anything, including a cot. Depending on their reaction to your new baby the results can be disastrous, whether they deliberately harm the baby or even accidentally smother it without it meaning to because it just wanted to cuddle up to the baby.

Of course, once they are old enough, there is nothing cuter than watching your children interact with their pets and pets are, in my opinion, an essential part of a child's life.

Fourth: This is the most obvious and probably does not need to be said in most cases, everyone is warned about the dangers of making sure you put babies to sleep at night on their back. The risk of SIDS or Cot death if very real and terrifying to a new parent. There is a great article over at the Baby Center that explains SIDS in more detail.

When our daughter was born we would put her to sleep in a baby sleep positioning product, it was really just a slip of material with two rolls on either side, stopping the baby from rolling over during sleep but it was the best thing and there are heaps of similar products out there to help reduce the risk of SIDS. Of course, this is at its most dangerous for the first 6 months, after that the risks lower.

Fifth: As you baby begins to grow, crawl and even walk make sure that danger areas, like stairs and
doorways that can ‘drop’ to the leading rooms, its best to install gates that are childproof to protect them from falling down the stairs. These can also be a good way of blocking off areas that you don’t want a baby to have access to. I always had a baby gate in the door to my jewellery studio when our daughter was little so I did not have to worry about her being at risk when I wasn’t watching. They are also a great way to keep dogs away from the baby until you are sure they are safe to be around each-other.

Sixth: Once children being to walk, especially in the first 6 months when they are very unsteady on their feet and really hold onto any and all nearby surfaces, make sure you keep items off the edge of tables and benches. Imagine how you would feel if you newly mobile toddler grabbed at the nearest table to steady himself and ended up wearing your burning hot morning coffee.

Last but Not Least: Never leave small items lying around your house where baby or toddler is playing. The one things you can count on is that if you leave something small enough to choke a child left within reach they will almost certainly pop it in their mouth at some stage.

Of course, these are not the only safety tips a new parent should be aware of, just a few of those I remember from my days with a newborn and toddler in the house. And I am by no means an authority on this subject either, just a mother who has been there, done that, got the scars and gray hairs to prove it.

The list could be endless really, but hopefully the above helped as a reminder and a starting point for new parents.
***Images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net /
1. Danilo Rizzuti 3.  Ashley Cox