Home. An image that conjures up relaxation, family time and a sense of safety and peace. With a little one, however, how safe is your home really?
Even if you feel quite confident that you’ve thoroughly child-proofed your home, there is always something that has been missed. Interestingly, when a group of first-time mothers of children aged between 12 and 36 months were taken through a home (for study purposes) and asked to identify potential hazards, they could only identify less than half.
Of course accidents will happen and there will be minor scrapes and bruises - especially since little ones love to explore and discover new things, and that’s just par for the course. The real problem, however, comes when there are more serious injuries occurring that could have originally been prevented.
So what can you do to child-proof your home? Here are our 5 steps for getting ready:
Step 1: Keep an eye on them
The key aspect to remember is supervision. I’m sure it’s happened to you before, like every other parent: you take your eye away from your little one for one second, and something happens! It is also just as important to teach your children what is safe and what isn’t. Household injuries count for one of the top reasons that children under 3 years visit Casualty each year, which is why it is so important as parents to recognise all the potential dangers within the home and take measures to prevent your children from accessing them.
Step 2: Install Locks, Gates and Door Cushions
As your little one grows up and becomes more adventurous and begins to climb and open things, you need to be aware of new hazards. Your home environment will need to change in order to allow your children to explore and play in a safe area. Locks on cabinets, child-proof gates and door cushions are some of the most used home safety items. Also, don’t forget to consider your outside spaces - particularly the driveway, front and back gardens, pool and braai areas, garden sheds and play areas. These all need to be made into child-friendly, accident-free zones.
Step 3: Act like a toddler
Ok, don’t do this in public, but definitely try this at home! A good idea, when child-proofing your home, is to get down to a toddler’s eye level - i.e. crawl on your knees to see the hidden dangers. The home environment has been designed for adults and unfortunately, children are exposed to various dangers we can’t see. You can also turn this one into a game – your toddler will love having you at his or her level, exploring your home.
Step 4: Don’t trust your child to always do what you say
Toddlers are very active and love exploring their environments. They are also unpredictable little beings and even though you may have warned them that the oven is hot (about fifty times), don’t trust that they will keep their hands from touching it.. In fact never depend on only telling a toddler not to do something, rather rely on a more reliable way to keep them out of harm’s way.
Step 5: Keep emergency details close by
Write your emergency numbers and keep them handy (i.e. next to the phone or on your fridge). Have a basic first aid kit handy and let anyone that is watching your child know where to find it. It’s also recommended to go for a first aid course so that you know what to do in an emergency situation.
Prevention is always so much better than cure. Remember though - it is no use having created a safe home without applying safe behaviour and good habits.
Below are some useful websites that can help you check how safe your home really is.