We have prepared this babyproofing guide to assist you in creating a safe and secure home for your child and to give you ideas and flag areas which you may not think of. We wanted to genuinely help you as opposed to just a way to showcase our products. If we have a product that helps, we will link it to it, of course, but many of our tips are simply common sense and meant to broaden the scope of your child proofing audit.
We recommend that you start child proofing your home from about 3 months of age – before your little one starts crawling. The earlier you start the more dangers you will spot which will minimize the chance of an accident occurring.
This page is constantly evolving as we discover new tips and ideas both from our research and from hearing from our customers. We have tried to cover as much as possible, but every home is different and your home will offer unique challenges.
After you have read through the guide we recommend you create your own home baby safety checklist that you can mark off to ensure you have covered everything. If you feel you have something to add please get in touch, if we add to the site we will give you a £10 gift voucher to say thanks!
Some tips we think will help from the get go:
- A smart person once said: “For safety is not a gadget but a state of mind” - We forget who but we wholeheartedly agree. We have endeavoured to be as comprehensive as possible with this safety checklist, but every home is different and you really need to switch on and take the time to look around to spot the dangers. All the child proofing products in the world cannot replace common sense and a well thought out audit.
- Get down to baby level. When you are doing your safety audit try getting down on your hands and knees in each room of the house. You may spot dangers in their world that you won't notice all the way up there! Look out for small objects, electrical sockets and collision dangers such as sharp edges and corners.
- Educate people around the house. Who do you and your baby share your space with? Granny/Grandad, Dad or older siblings? Make sure they are aware of the do’s and don’ts in advance so they are as vigilant as you are. Make sure they know that their actions can also effect the level of safety in the home.
Ok so let’s get started. Below is a comprehensive list of potential dangers, some obvious and some not so obvious. The key areas are broken into either room or by danger group:
- Consider the location of chairs or stools so they can’t be moved and/or climbed on close to the cooker while in use?
- Does your oven door get hot? Is it in reaching distance? If so you may consider purchasing an oven door guard.
- Stove knob covers can help prevent your child from turning on the hob. Yes, it happens!
- Decide which cabinets and drawers are accessible which should not be. Most obvious areas are under the sink where most people keep cleaning chemicals, or vitamin/medicine cabinets and the cutlery drawer. A less obvious danger are drawers where spare plastic bags are kept which can present a choking hazard. Either move these items out of reach or consider purchasing cupboard locks and/or drawer latches from Babasafe which are difficult for toddlers to open but easy for adults. They are inexpensive and easy to fit check out the range here.
- Keep the bin in a safe place or consider an extra-long multi-purpose lock.
- Is your fridge and washing machine and/or other appliances secure? The Babasafe adjustable multipurpose lock or appliance lock is the most suitable lock as it is designed for high volume usage and is adjustable to different size appliances.
- If you have an open plan kitchen/ dining room you may find our room divider useful, it will block off the kitchen entirely and allow you to work away while baby is in the living area still in sight.
Try keeping one press or cabinet open to keep them busy! Just make sure the contents are safe – non-toxic plastic containers/bowls are ideal.
There can be choking hazards in the kitchen such as grapes or coins. Be sure to keep these out of reach.
Try to cook on the hobs at the rear of the cooker keeping pots out of reach as much as possible.
ELECTRICAL & APPLIANCE SAFETY
- Hair tongs & straighteners! Hair tongs and straighteners are one of the leading causes of burn injuries in children in the UK and the majority of admissions of children to hospital wards for burn injury are under the age of one. Keep hair tongs out of reach before, during and after use and remember they can remain hot for up to 8 minutes after switching off.
- Sockets - what is it about them that kids love so much? Maybe it’s because they can resemble little faces or maybe it’s because they see us plugging in and out all day. UK sockets are probably the safest in the world as are 3 pinned and have shutters across them to prevent any objects being stuck inside, however we have seen instances where a child has managed to place one object in the earth socket and another in the bottom! A shock was received but thankfully the child was ok. With this in mind get down at their level in all rooms in the house – any sockets accessible from the floor or even from couch height should be covered up using sockets covers. Our socket covers are extra safe as they are very difficult to remove for baby but come with a lock & key system so you can remove them easily – we offer bulk packs on these check them out here
- Cords - Electric cords present both a tangle and electric shock risk as well as the risk of a cord being pulled and knocking over an appliance– try hiding cords behind furniture or make sure they are tidied up as neat as possible. Cord wind ups are available or even cable ties can be an easy way to tidy them up.
- Outlet covers – for maximum safety consider fitting outlet covers to appliances which are permanently plugged in. Coming soon from Babasafe!
- Flat screen TV’s, unlike their chunky predecessors, are so easy to knock over these days, use a furniture strap which is widely available in the UK or consider wall mounting it to keep it out of the way.
Stairs & Steps: Securing stairs with gates are a must. A 2012 study in the USA found that a child falls down stairs every six minutes! Fitting stair gates to both the top & bottom of the stairs is definitely a good idea.
- Top of stairs – use a non-trip screw fix gate and ensure it is placed at the very top level. Pressure fit gates while handier to install, have a bar sitting at the bottom and present an extra danger as this is a trip hazard. In the 2012 study a quarter of all stair injuries occurred while a child was being carried, furthermore, these injuries proved much more severe! Pressure gates also have the potential to be pushed through if they have come loose or are poorly fitted.
- Bottom of stairs – secure the bottom of the stairs with another gate, no higher than the very last step.
- Banisters & landing – be mindful of the gap between banisters, which in some cases your toddler could potentially fall through - particularly on landings where kids can find themselves unsupervised more often. Consider a banister guard which are available soon from Babasafe, for more details get in touch. Some parents will want to use an extra-large safety gate/ room divider to completely block off banisters and the stairs entirely.
- Step edges. Some homes can have split level areas where one or two steps are in your child’s play space. How are the edges? Are they sharp or hard? Avoid bumps and bruises from this collision hazard by fitting an edge guard available here from Babasafe.
Check out the Babasafe retractable stair gate which is easy to install and is almost invisible when not in use and is suitable for use on stairs and doors, presenting 0 trip hazard as it fully retracts when not in use.
WINDOWS & BLINDS CHILD SAFETY
Perform a full audit of your windows. Which ones may be within reach? Is there furniture close by to the window that gives access when climbed? Most windows these days have some kind of locking feature, ensure any windows that are within climbing height are locked securely when not in use. Additional locks for windows that open outwards are available (coming soon from Babasafe) or if you have sliding windows you can check out our nifty sliding window/door lock.
Tip: make window ledges that are in reach uninteresting for your child! Many people keep pictures, ornaments, and trinkets on the window ledge which may not only present a choking hazard but can also draw attention!
- Blinds. If you use or are planning to use blinds or shutters in your home you should be aware of the danger that may be present in unrestrained cords, chains, and wires attached to your blinds or shutters. The strangulation hazard presented by blinds has been well documented in recent years due to a number of infant deaths attributed to children becoming entangled in blind cords in the UK. The regulations came in at European level in February 2014 regulating newly manufactured blinds. However, parents should remain vigilant even with new blinds to ensure cords aren’t left dangling free. Thousands of homes have blinds which were manufactured prior to the regulations coming through and need to be mindful of the strangulation hazard of the cord. Cord wind ups are available nationwide in the UK in most hardware stores. We recommend visiting The British Blind & Shutter (http://www.bbsa.org.uk/domestic/child-safety/26) for a comprehensive guide on securing your blinds.
- Door slamming – almost everyone we talk to can remember having their hands or fingers trapped by a closing door as a child! It’s an obvious one but definitely avoidable. Door wedges can be useful but are not foolproof as you need to remember to fix back the wedge too often and that’s not always practical. Save yourself a trip to A&E by using a door slam guard from Babasafe. Our door slam guards sit snugly around the edge of the door with minimum installation and is soft enough not to damage your door but strong enough to stop the door from closing on little fingers!
- Finger pinch – an often overlooked danger that doors present is the risk of a finger pinch on the hinge side of the door. This kind of injury can be severe enough to break the skin and a child can catch a finger on the inside of the door even when a door stopper or slam guard is in use. Our finger pinch guard provides the solution with virtually no installation, check it out here.
- The toilet bowl– some parents spend an enormous amount of time trying to keep their toddlers from playing in and around the toilet bowl. This should be avoided as apart from the obvious germs found in toilet bowls, often the harshest of chemicals in the home such as bleach can be found in and around. Gauge your little one's interest in the toilet bowl first, if it’s an issue we suggest locking down the toilet with either an extra-long toilet lock or a toilet lock. Toilet locks are not all created equal, you need to be mindful that the toilet lock holds the lid tight – if there is any space at all between the lid and bowl you may find your little one depositing items or sticking little hands in there!
- Slipping. Even as adults we find ourselves slipping in the bathroom if the right mats are not in place. It’s worth investing in a good matt not only for the bathroom floor but also inside the bath – it’s almost guaranteed that without an anti-slip matt in the bath that a child will slip at some stage.
- Faucets in the bathroom can present both a collision danger and a risk of burns. Avoid running the bath with hot water separately to keep the temperature of the faucets down, you might also consider using a faucet cover device designed specifically for baby safety. Available soon from Babsasafe.co.uk
- Medicines, Cleaning products and personal care items. The bathroom is packed full of these hazardous items. Most medicine cabinets are out of reach, but most homes have shampoos and cleaning products within in reach of a child and this is something you will need to look at during you audit by finding a new area to store personal care items – not least razors! Many homes keep toilet cleaner or bleach on the floor behind the toilet which is a definite no-no – most of these products have child proof caps however, none of them are 100% childproof and its best to keep them out of the way.
FIRE & HEATING HAZARDS
Regardless if you use a stove, natural fireplace, gas or electric, the fireplace is one of the most dangerous areas for your child in the home particularly during winter months when most homes have fires blazing and radiators blasting.
- Section off the fire completely. A free standing fireguard alone can easily be toppled over not to mention the risk of burns as in most cases a free standing fireguard is placed too close to the fire and can become very hot. Consider the Babasafe XL baby fireguard, which offers the ultimate protection as it will section off any fire or stove – is screw-fitted to the wall in minutes but also has a child-proof quick-release feature so it can be removed easily when not in use. The hearth gate is also fully built straight out the of box, making it ultra convenient and worth spending a little extra on.
- The fireplace hearth can be a real collision danger, as most are made from either marble or stone, couple that with sharp edges and corners and it’s one of the main concerns in the living room. While using a baby fireguard will remove this from the equation, it’s important to ensure the hearth is baby proofed, if the gate is removed particularly during summer months or when the fire is not in use. Check out the fire place edge kit from Babasafe which is made from soft non-toxic foam and will cover the edges and corners nicely.
- Radiators. In some households the radiators are turned up so high it’s possible to get a nasty burn just by brushing past them. Turning them up so high is often not necessary and they can be turned down individually or the central heating setting can be set lower so the radiators don’t become as hot. If your one of those families who like to blast the heating on to maximum during winter we recommend looking at a radiator cover which is available in most DIY stores.
We mentioned the fireplace hearth earlier but be prepared to include an audit of other sharp edges which could cause injury around the home. Remember to get down to their level and have a careful look around.
- Tables. The most obvious sharp edge and the table which causes the most injury is the coffee table in the living room. If it’s not practical to remove the table use corner and edge guards to protect the most prominent corners and edges. Glass tables, in particular, can have nasty edges and a thin edge guard is most suitable for this. Taller tables such as the kitchen table edges may be too high for a collision risk, however, the legs can often be sharp and may be worth covering.
- Other Furniture. We also mentioned the risk of flat screen TV’s falling over earlier - also be mindful of other furniture that can be easily knocked over such as free standing shelves ,coat stands or free standing mirrors.
- Steps/Stairs – split level properties can often have stairs or steps that are exposed and the sharp edges & corners should also be considered.
Avoiding choking hazards is one of the main concerns for parents in childproofing their home. Choking hazards can be found in almost every room – In the kitchen such as grapes and coins, in the living room where there can be many small decorations and ornaments and toys from older children which while safe for them, may not be for your toddler.
- Size rule. Anything smaller than 1 ¾ inches is considered a hazard. Measuring tubes are available in many stores, however, a toilet paper roll will do just fine as they are generally 1 ¾ inches – anything that can be passed through should be put well out of reach.1.75 inches is the guide, anything that is smaller than this and can fit through is a choking hazard and should be out of reach of children. This is just a guide only, and of course, some objects larger than this could also pose a danger.
- Plastic bags are a suffocation hazard. It’s the norm now in the UK to recycle plastic bags as much as possible (and rightly so), it’s common to find them located in around the house in drawers in the kitchen, in the hall or like in our house under the mattress! If you can’t keep them locked away it's probably best not to keep them around at this stage during your toddler's development
Apartment living is a fact of life in the UK now with many couples starting families in apartments. Each living space presents its own child safety hazards and if you’re in an apartment, a balcony may certainly be worth your attention – even on the ground floor. Nothing can replace careful supervision on a balcony but here are a few tips
- Ensure no furniture or objects close the balcony railing can be climbed.
- Vertical bars. If your balcony has vertical bars which have gaps or more than around 5cm there is the potential to slip through for a child. Consider blocking them off with bamboo sheets or plexiglass. Be mindful in blocking them off that you don’t create a climbing frame for your child.
- Horizontal bars. If the bars are horizontal like in the above image they may be climbable - again consider using materials to block them off. Be sure to secure any material to the inside of the railing.
- Keep the doors out to the balcony secure as much as possible. Sliding doors can be double secured with the Babasafe sliding door lock.
Tip: don’t allow your little one to play with objects they can throw off the balcony easily! A small toy could easily be launched from a high balcony and cause injury to someone below.
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