Baby safety equipment Essential baby safety equipment
No home is totally hazard proof and you can't be on guard every minute of the day. But there is a wide range of essential baby safety equipment that can help to protect even the most curious of babies and children.
Baby safety equipment and gadgets are no substitute for your care and attention, of course, but they should help minimise the chance of your baby or toddler getting in harm's way.
Child car seat
Required by law, a child car seat is essential baby safety equipment you'll need from day one. You will not be allowed to leave the hospital after your baby's birth without one.
Not all child car seats offer adequate baby safety protection - choose a Which? Best Buy child car seat to make sure your baby has the safest car seat possible, and avoid our Don't Buy child car seats as they weren't up to scratch in our lab testing.
If you're not a Which? member you can gain access to all our reviews, from baby products such as child car seats and pushchairs, to home appliances, all for a £1 trial subscription to Which?.
To become a Best Buy, a child car seat must protect a child during severe front and side crashes when installed correctly. It must have no major weaknesses – such as being difficult to install correctly – that might lead to it not protecting your child properly in a crash.
Our independent child car seat crash tests are the best in Europe and more stringent than official tests. To find out more about how we test child car seats, watch our video on what makes a Best Buy child car seat.
Another essential piece of baby safety kit once your baby starts moving around independently is locks for your windows.
According to the Child Accident Prevention Trust, windows should be fitted with safety locks to restrict it opening less than 6.5cm, as babies and young children could be seriously injured or killed in a fall from a high window.
Some window locks have a separate key (which you keep somewhere accessible to you but not to your child); other window locks are keyless and have a mechanism that requires you to do two actions at once (which should foil a small child).
Gate and barriers keep children out of kitchens and off the staircase, where serious injuries can occur.
A Which? Best Buy stair gate is safe and easy to install – gates that are tricky to open and close don’t make the grade.
The Which? stair gate review doesn't just tell you the best ones - it also answers your questions about how and where best to fit stair gates.
Stair gates are usually meant only for children up to about two years old, as three- and four-year-olds will probably be capable of opening them - but accidents can still happen, so you should supervise your children on the stairs until they're confident walkers.
Fire guard and smoke alarms
Though not relevant for all homes, if you have any sort of fire, a fire guard is an essential piece of baby safety equipment.
Your fire guard needs to be full size and hooked to the wall for maximum safety. A proper fire guard should also have a top that prevents items from being thrown into a fire – a curved top is best because it will act as a deterrent against placing objects on the fire guard.
Fire guards are widely available from nursery stores on the high street as well as online.
As well as a fire guard, all homes should have at least one smoke alarm to give you vital warning of a house fire, and therefore time to get your family to safety.
In our recent tests of smoke alarms we found two Don't Buys that we think you should avoid. Take a look at our smoke alarm reviews to find out which are Best Buys and which won't offer you and your family enough protection.
Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms
Audible smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are essential devices for the safety of children and adults, immediately alerting you to the presence of smoke or carbon monoxide in your home.
Both types of detector are widely available from DIY stores - but just as a smoke alarm doesn't detect carbon monoxide, your carbon monoxide alarm isn't a replacement for a standard smoke alarm. You'll need one of each or one with dual functions.
If you live in a flat or bungalow, a smoke and carbon monoxide alarm in the hallway should be enough. If your home has more than one floor, however, you'll need alarms at the bottom of the stairs and on each upstairs landing.
Test alarms monthly to make sure they are operating correctly and replace batteries every year.
Next: our baby safe tips page has more handy baby safety equipment for your home.