Which? top five child safety tipsKeep your little one safe from hazards

04 June 2016

baby reaching for laundry detergent

Keep laundry detergent out of children's reach to prevent accidents

Children are mistaking laundry capsules for sweets at the frequency of at least one incident every day, the Local Government Association warns.

There have been more than 2,000 cases involving children and gel or liquid laundry capsules in the last five years, according to the National Poison Information Service. 

Laundry capsules contain chemicals that can cause burns, internal swelling, breathing problems, temporary blindness and in severe cases can induce a coma.

Many laundry capsules now come in plastic sealable boxes, and European rules introduced in 2015 mean they must taste horrible and be more water and pressure-resistant than previously. But as they’re often brightly-coloured and look enticing, it’s vital to keep them out of reach of children. 

Besides detergents, there are other dangers that you can help to avoid. Read on for our top five tips on how to keep your kids safe. 

Top five tips to keep your baby or child safe

1. Buy the safest child car seat

Without one, you won’t be allowed to leave the hospital by car after your baby’s birth as they’re required by law. The best will help protect your child during front and side crashes, and be straight-forward to install.

But not all child car seats give adequate baby safety protection. Our independent child car seat tests go further than the official standard so we can reveal Best Buy child car seats and child car seats to avoid.

Child car seat

Check your car seat is fitted correctly to protect your child in a crash

2. Fit your child car seat correctly

Even if you’ve bought the very best car seat to protect your little one on the move, it won’t give the best protection in a crash if it’s not fitted correctly.

You should carry out essential checks regularly, including checking the seatbelt is secure and untwisted, the child car seat is sitting squarely on the seat of the car, and the headrest is in the correct position. 

Read our 10 essential child car seat fitting checks to find out more, and to see our picture-guide so you can easily spot common car seat fitting problems.

3. Put up a stair gate

A barrier at the top of your stairs or the entrance to your kitchen should keep young children out of areas where serious injury can occur. They’re only usually meant for children up to about two years old as older children will probably be able to open them.

You can use our guide to buying a stair gate to help you find the best for you.

4. Choose a washing machine with a child lock

Washing machines can come with two types of child lock. The most common is a panel safety lock to stop children from changing the settings while you’re not looking. 

A door safety lock stops the door from being closed so that children can’t accidentally trap toys, your car keys, or even pets or themselves, inside.

You can use our washing machine reviews to find the models that have these features and have aced our tests. 

Ovens, dishwashers, microwaves and other household appliances also sometimes come with child locks or other child safe precautions, so it’s worth keeping an eye out for these features.

5. Invest in a digital thermometer

Being able to take your baby’s temperature quickly and accurately is invaluable to many parents. Simple digital thermometers can be inexpensive (from £5), but you’ll need to keep these in place under your child’s arm for 15-30 seconds. 

Digital in-ear thermometer use infrared to take a temperature reading, so shouldn't disturb a sleeping child. Digital no-contact thermometers also use infrared, but with these you simply point it at your child’s forehead to get a speedy reading. 

Our guide to buying the best digital thermometer will help you find the best for you and your child.

Buy a baby monitor for peace of mind

A baby monitor is more for convenience than safety – so you can hear your baby crying if you’re in a different room or in the garden – but they can also alert you to hazards, such as your baby climbing out of the cot.

Best Buy baby monitors have a long signal, good sound quality and are easy to use so they’ll give you peace of mind and make your life easier.

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