f you’re feeling a little anxious about bringing your little one home from the hospital, rest assured that you’re not the only one feeling this way.
Babies are naturally curious about their surroundings. They learn a lot by exploring on their own, and while you should always encourage your little one to go on adventures, there are so many hazards at home that you might not even be aware of.
As soon as they can crawl and move about by themselves, you’re going to need to be extra careful and make sure their expeditions around the house aren’t going to cause them any preventable injuries.
Let’s start with a few basics before you get too overwhelmed.
Hazard 1: Suffocation
Bought tons of fluffy pillows, furry blankets, and adorable soft toys for your baby?
Well, you might want to hold off from filling your baby’s cot with these things too soon because they may cause your little one to suffocate. They don’t need anything else in the cot other than a firm mattress and their swaddle blankets.
- Always lay your baby to sleep on their back to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
- Don’t introduce soft toys and fluffy pillows into their cot until they’re at least 6 months old.
- Be wary of whatever plastic bags or packaging lying around the house as they can cause accidental suffocation as well.
Hazard 2: Choking
Babies tend to put everything they find into their mouths, so you mustn’t leave bits and bobs about the place where they can reach. Rule of thumb: if anything fits inside of an empty toilet paper roll, it’s probably going to be a choking hazard for your baby.
At this point, it helps for you to get down on your knees, crawl around, and think like a baby — you’ll find so many things you never thought would be dangerous that are just lying around in plain sight.
- Keep your floors and low-rise surfaces clear from choking hazards like coins, batteries, even small fridge magnets.
- If you have pets at home, make sure to store your pets’ food away and properly take care of any leftovers so it’s not easily accessible to your baby.
Hazard 3: Drowning
Just taking your eyes away from your baby for even a few seconds during bathtime — maybe to grab a dry towel outside — can be extremely dangerous. Anything can happen within those 5 seconds that you’re away, especially if you’re giving them a bath in a larger tub.
- Before bathing your baby, always make sure that you have everything you need within reach so you won’t have to leave your baby alone.
- Keep your smartphone away to avoid any unwanted distractions during bathtime.
- Properly drain the tub and pour away all excess water after the bath to prevent accidents.
- Always remember to keep toilet lids down when not in use. Besides preventing your baby from falling in, it also saves you from headaches after finding half your belongings in the loo.
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Hazard 4: Falling/Tripping
Babies fall often. It’s part and parcel of being a curious and mobile baby. However, there are many things you can do as parents to make their falls less painful.
- Install carpets, rugs, or playmats on the floor where your baby loves to play the most to help cushion their falls.
- Use baby-safe corner guards on sharp corners, like the coffee table or shelves, to soften the impact when your baby runs into them.
- Tidy up the wire cords of your electrical appliances lying on the floor to prevent your baby from tripping over them.
- Give your baby as much safe running space as you can by moving large objects further away from their play area.
Hazard 5: Burns
You might have heard a scary story or two about someone’s baby accidentally pouring boiling water onto themselves at the stove, but the kitchen isn’t the only place with dangerously hot items that your baby may come across while your back is turned.
- If you use curling irons often, make sure you always store them away safely after each use.
- Keep your baby in their cot or playpen whenever you’re ironing or steaming your clothes.
- Place your steaming coffee mugs right in the centre of a taller table so your baby doesn’t pour scalding hot coffee on themself by accident.
- If your water faucet dispenses both hot and cold water, always keep the faucet closed towards the cold water so your baby doesn’t get a surprise stream of hot water when they turn it on.
Photo by freepik on Freepik
Hazard 6: Poisons
Poison doesn’t necessarily only mean rat or weed poison. Anything is poison to a baby if it causes them distress after ingestion and that includes household cleaning products, bug spray, medicines, and even paint chips from peeling walls.
- It’s always best to complete all painting or wallpapering in the baby room 6 months before you bring your baby home to avoid exposing their delicate systems to paint fumes.
- Lock away your detergents, sprays, toilet cleaners, and other chemicals somewhere that your baby has absolutely no access to.
- Vitamins, medicines, and pills are extremely dangerous to babies in adult dosages, so make sure to keep them away from your baby’s grabby hands.
- Clean and sterilise your baby’s bath toys regularly, including the outside and inside surfaces to prevent mildew or black mould. It’s a good idea to buy duplicates of your baby’s favourite bath toys so you can throw out old ones when they get filled with poisonous gunk.
Hazard 7: Cuts
Have you locked all your kitchen knives and scissors away in a drawer and thrown away the key? Perhaps the next place you should look at is your bathroom, where all the razor blades, nail clippers, and beauty scissors are.
- Hide your toolbox away at all costs.
- Be careful of foil wrappers and clingwrap dispensers — it goes without saying that the sharp, jagged edges can cause painful cuts on your precious baby’s delicate skin.
- If something is breakable, then that something can hurt your baby. Think glass dishes, ceramic plates, porcelain vases, mirrors… the list goes on.
Hazard 8: Falling objects
Furniture and heavy objects should be bolted into the walls so it doesn’t tip over and fall on your baby when they lose their balance. Some babies love to climb too, so you need to make sure that your house furniture is sturdy enough to perhaps handle a baby (or two!).
- Don’t let wires, cords, or tablecloths dangle from above — that’s just like inviting your baby to pull on them and get hit on the head.
- Refrain from storing sharp and heavy things on top of wobbly furniture.
Hazard 9: Electrocution
In case you missed point 2 just now, let us reiterate: babies put everything and anything into their mouths. That includes electrical wires, plug heads, chargers, cables, and more. Combined with teething tendencies and a mouth full of drool, your baby is a clueless but excellent electricity conductor freely wandering around the house.
- Keep electrical appliances out of sight, especially if the wires are exposed — then get rid of the item or replace it with a new and safer one.
- Electrical outlets placed near the ground are at the perfect height for babies to notice and start playing with. Try covering the outlets with tape or place some heavy furniture in front so your baby can’t get at it.
Photo by odua on Freepik
Hazard 10: The Car
Whether or not you consider the car as part of your ‘home’, it is still one of the most important places to babyproof.
- Install an approved baby seat in your car and make sure to follow the instructions properly.
- Never install the baby seat in the front passenger seat with the back against the airbag — if the airbag deploys, your baby will be in a very dangerous situation.
- Before strapping your baby in, make sure that the metal bits in the car aren’t scalding hot, especially in warmer weathers.
- Check the car for any small bits and bobs that may pose as a choking hazard for your baby.
- Keep the car well-ventilated and never leave your baby alone in the car, even if it’s only just for a few minutes to ‘grab something’.
- Turn on the child-safety locks whenever you take your baby out — you can never be too careful, and you’ll never know what their curious, wandering hands will be doing next when you’re busy driving.
It might look like a long and non-exhaustive list of things to look out for, but the extra bit of hassle is always worth it, knowing that you can sleep well at night without having to worry about your baby running into dangerous situations at home.
Nonetheless, remember that even if you’ve 100% babyproofed your house, car, and everywhere else you can think of, it doesn’t mean you need not supervise your baby when they’re awake and about.
Safety begins at home. Let’s all play our part to make sure our children grow up in a safe, healthy, and happy environment.