Baby proofing your house (when do you start, what to do, what hazards to look out for)

If you are pregnant with your first baby, you are probably busy thinking of colour schemes for the nursery, whether you need a second change table in the living room or whether you really need that baby wipe warmer (the answer is no, by the way!)

What we often forget when planning for the arrival of a baby, is whether your house is ‘baby proof’. When they are little there is not a lot of ‘baby proofing’ that you need to do. They are either in their basinets, your arms, on the floor or in a rocker. This means you can enjoy your home décor just a little bit longer. However once your baby starts to move, then all bets are off! It’s time to get into action!

Generally, your baby will start to move around four months, but they really get going from about six months onwards. It is probably a good idea to think about the dangers around the house and how you can minimise risk, before this happens. This may involve getting on your hands and knees to view the house from a baby’s perspective. Although an entertaining task, this is something I think is a good idea.

There are also some common-sense things that you should do. These include:

  • Sharp edges:
    Look at coffee tables, side tables etc. that might have sharp edges that your baby could bang themselves on. You can soften these with edge covering thingymajigs (https://www.toysrus.com/products/edge-and-corner-guards.jsp) or you can just put the table/item away until your baby is older.
  • Covering/removing powers cords:
    In this age of devices, we all have many chargers/power cords around the house. Make sure these are covered or removed from your baby’s reach. Try to keep cords out of your baby’s room as well (https://www.bunnings.com.au/our-range/lighting-electrical/electrical/cable-conduit/cable-covers-wraps).
  • Hot things:
    Make sure your young child cannot reach up to pull things off the stove. This is also important when they are sitting in a high chair. Keep them away from stoves.
  • Chests of draws/bookshelves/televisions:
    With TVs getting larger and larger, they are much more of a hazard for littlies. Make sure your television is secured safely so it can’t be pulled over. This is the same for high sets of draws that young children might be able to climb up, or book shelves that can topple. Keep all these sorts of items out of your child’s room.
  • Bathroom hazards:
    Have non-slip mats in the bath and shower and don’t let your baby in there without supervision.
  • Nursey hazards:
    When your baby is in their cot, make sure they are not able to grab hold of things like cords from curtains or blinds, switches, baby monitors that they can chew on, hanging mobiles etc. Keep things pretty boring and keep the cot away from doors and windows.

When baby-proofing, try to be practical. You also need to live in your house so don’t overdo it. It is always a good idea to teach young children about the dangers and what they can and can’t touch. So rather than always have a gate across the stairs, start to teach them how to go up and down the stairs safely. Of course only do this when you are with them and supervising them.

Article by Wattle Health resident expert, Paediatric Nurse, Jo Ryan.

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