Life with a baby

Childproofing your home

6 min read

Becoming a parent makes you suddenly very aware of everyday hazards – but there are things you can do to prepare your home and help keep your baby out of harm’s way.

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Your care and attention are the most important things when it comes to keeping your baby safe at home. However, it’s simply impossible to monitor your little one every minute of the day.

Baby safety equipment and gadgets can’t ever be a complete substitute for your watchful eye, but they should help to reduce the risk of accidents.

Preparing your home before your baby arrives

These are some essentials to tick off the list before you bring your baby home for the first time.

Smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector

You’ll want to be immediately alerted if there’s smoke or carbon monoxide in your home. Fire and overexposure to carbon monoxide can kill.

It might be a good idea to install a smoke alarm in every room where there’s risk of fire. You should also install a carbon monoxide detector in all rooms containing solid fuel gas, or paraffin heaters. Also, remember to regularly check that your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are working.

You can buy separate smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, or ones that will alert you to either threat.

However, not all smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are made equal. Worryingly, some fail our safety tests. Find out which models you should steer clear of, for free:

Baby monitor

This will make it easier for you to hear your baby crying if you’re in another room.

There’s a lot of choice when it comes to baby monitors, and a wide price range too. You can spend less than £20 for a basic audio monitor, or more than £300 for a state-of-the-art video monitor with several cameras.

To help you narrow your search and figure out what you want, take a look at our free article on how to choose the best baby monitor.

If you opt for an internet-connected baby monitor, you may be concerned about it being hacked. Find out more with our in-depth article on baby monitor safety.

Making your baby’s sleeping environment safe

According to the NHS, your baby should always sleep in the same room as you for the first six months.

There are a few baby sleep guidelines to follow, to keep your little one as safe as possible, such as always placing your baby on their back to sleep, and keeping their head uncovered from bedding. Find out more by visiting Safe sleeping: how to reduce the risk of SIDS for your baby.

Also be aware of any other possible dangers with where your baby is sleeping, either during the first six months in the same room as you, or later on when they may be in a different room. For instance:

  • Keep the cot away from blind cords, wires and plugs.
  • Keep medicines and toiletries out of their reach.
  • Secure furniture to the wall if there’s a risk that it could topple over if climbed or pulled on.
  • Don’t put a hot water bottle or electric blanket in with your baby, even if it’s freezing.
  • Remove any mobiles or hanging toys that are within reach if your baby sits or stands up.
  • Don’t use a tie or ribbon to attach your baby’s dummy to their clothes, or leave your baby wearing clothes or bibs with tie fastenings.

What to think about when your baby starts crawling

As your baby starts to move around more independently, there are additional hazards you’ll want to mitigate against. Here’s our shortlist of some popular options for childproofing the home.

Stair gate

Your child may be the next famous explorer, but you may want to control where they can and can’t venture alone around your home, at least for the first few months – especially if you’re worried about them walking up and down stairs by themselves. This is where a stair gate comes in handy.

Even if you don’t have more than one floor, you could use a stair gate to prevent your little one from waltzing into the kitchen alone, where serious injuries can occur.

Bath mat

For young children, the bath can feel like a fun play area. But, with our safety hats on, it’s important to remember that water can increase the risk of accidents.

A simple rubber bath mat will help prevent your baby from slipping in the bath. You might want to add a bath mat to the base of the bath when your baby starts sitting up and is able to pull themselves up without your support.

No matter how sturdily your baby appears to sit in the bath, always remember to never leave them unattended in the tub, even for a minute, as accidents can happen incredibly quickly.

Glass safety film

Thinking about your windows, doors with glass panels, and glass-top tables – are they made of safety glass?

If not, you can cover them with safety film. This is designed to contain loose jagged shards should the glass break, so could prevent serious injury.

Window locks

This might be one to think about if your little one can easily access any windows around your home.

Windows should be fitted with safety locks to restrict them from opening less than 6.5cm. Babies and young children could be seriously injured or killed if they fall from a high window.

Door slam stoppers

About 30,000 children trap their fingers in door each year, with more than 1,500 of them needing surgery, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA).

To help prevent this from happening in your home, look into door slam stoppers. These can stop doors from shutting on little fingers, and children from shutting themselves in a room.

Some types of door stoppers will only prevent fingers from getting trapped in one side of the door but not the other – so the hinge side may be protected but the door can still close.

Alternatively, a doorstop can stop the door from moving at all.

Drawer and cupboard catches

These are designed to only allow a cupboard or drawer to open a few centimetres, unless an adult releases the catch.

Children will eventually learn how to do this, but catches can still stop your baby from exploring drawers and cupboards and picking up potentially dangerous items in the short term.

Fixing furniture to the wall

If your furniture is heavy and freestanding, it could be dangerous if it topples over. You might want to discourage your child from playing with your furniture – but they may get up to some adventurous antics when your back is turned.

Fix this furniture to the wall with brackets, where possible. L-brackets can be good for fixing wardrobes or chests of drawers.

If you’re attaching furniture to a brick wall, you can attach brackets with a drill and screws. If you’re fixing it to a plasterboard wall, use the wooden studs in the wall.

Radiator cover

Simply put, this will help prevent your baby from burning themselves on a hot radiator.

Fire guard

This one’s only relevant if you have a fireplace, or other kind of fire output.

The fire guard needs to completely cover the area surrounding the fire. You should also look for one which has a top that prevents items from being thrown into a fire – a curved top could be especially good, as it will deter people from placing objects on there.

What do child safety symbols mean?

Look out for these symbols when buying children’s toys and equipment, as well as on furniture and household appliances.

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