Baby proofing and child proofing guide
We all want to protect our children as much as possible, and we all know how inquisitive babies, toddlers, and children can be. Whilst there's no guaranteed way to completely baby or child proof your home, there are plenty of steps you can take to reduce the possibility of any accidents from a little explorer To make the process easier, Tesco have put together a guide outlining some of the best precautions to make. While the guide has lots of handy tips and advice, it won't all be relevant for your lifestyle, as all homes are different and have their own safety requirements. From fitting child locks to installing safety gates, getting baby proof drawers to chair gates, baby proof fireplaces, child proof fridge locks and cupboard locks, there are lots of products out there to help you. As your baby grows and becomes more mobile their child proofing needs will change, so we have outlined what to do at different stages of your baby's development too. Remember, it's always best to be prepared, so try and put safety measures in place in advance.
Baby home safety
You may think there are few threats to a baby who can't move about independently, but there's still plenty to consider, as babies love to reach out and grab things, and they do get more mobile every day. With this in mind, always pre-emptively baby proof your home, this will save time later, and give you peace of mind. Making a start during your pregnancy is advisable, as it might be hard to find the time once your baby is born.
Baby proofing the nursery
The Lullaby Trust recommends that babies sleep in the same room as their parents for the first six months of life. This has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of cot death.
You should set up your baby's cot as far from heat sources and windows as possible. If you can't avoid placing your baby's cot near a radiator, turn it right down or off, so that your baby doesn't overheat.
If your baby's cot has to be under a window, make sure you child proof window locks that stop it opening more than 10cm. Your baby could surprise you by climbing earlier than you expected, so it is always wise to be prepared.
Another important step to baby proofing your nursery is to make sure there aren't any dangling cords that your baby could choke on or pull down and hurt themselves. Tie up light pulls and curtain or blind cords and, if you use a cot bumper, cut any tapes or ties as short as possible. Remember that cot bumpers are not recommended for children under one year old.
Remove mobile and hanging toys from the cot as soon as your baby can stand up, or make sure these are well out of reach of grasping little hands.
Secure heavy furniture so that it can't topple forwards onto your baby. Also, don't position the cot under shelves, as items like books can easily fall out.
Don't buy any second-hand or antique furniture that might be painted with lead-based paints as these are toxic and your baby could swallow peeling flakes. The most risky pieces are those from the early to mid-20th century. If you have a cat, buy a cat net to fit over your baby's cot and always keep animals out of your baby's room.
Baby proofing the bathroom
Wet babies are very slippery, so a baby bath seat is a great idea to keep him or her secure. It also lets you keep both hands free for washing your baby. Baby bath seats are usually made of towelling fabric over a metal frame, and sit inside the bath with your baby safely reclining inside.
Cover the bath taps by tying a flannel around them. This will protect your baby from bumps and scalds.
Never under any circumstances leave your baby unattended in a bath, even in a baby bath seat. Babies can drown quickly in only a few centimetres of water.
Baby proofing the kitchen
The humble household kitchen can be a very dangerous place for an exploring baby or toddler. But there are some simple things to do that limit the dangers presented in the kitchen.
Firstly, check that your baby can't reach out and grab electrical cables and cords when they are in their highchair or bouncing seat. If any such things are in reach then they can easily grab at them when you have your back turned.
Don't position your baby near drawers, especially those that have sharp cooking utensils like knives. Always keep cupboards containing cooking liquids and ingredients locked, by investing in baby proof drawer locks and cupboard locks.
Keep the highchair or bouncing seat away from shelves and anything else that could fall onto it, such as crockery or breakable glasses. While you are using the oven, hob, kettle or any other heat source, the highchair should be placed at a safe distance away too.
Final baby safety tip
To get a little extra perspective on baby proofing, you can always crawl around on your hands and knees to get a baby's-eye view of your home and spot any potential hazards. Secure or remove anything that looks tempting to pull down and explore.
As young babies aren't terribly mobile, there is a limit to the household hazards they're faced with, but it won't be long at all before your newborn is a toddler. This presents you with a whole new world of safety issues to take into consideration.
Child proofing the bathroom
An inquisitive, mobile baby who can stand up, can also fall into a toilet, which is both full of germs and chemicals and is a very hard surface to collide with. Make sure that your toilet is fitted with a child proof toilet lock. This will stop them lifting the seat on their own.
Cupboard door locks should be in place on higher cabinets in the bathroom to stop your toddler reaching in at the toiletries. Another good idea is to refrain from leaving bleach or air freshener sprays on the floor, or within easy reach.
Child proofing the kitchen
Keep toddlers out of the kitchen by fitting a safety gate (conforming to safety standard BS EN 1930:2000). If for whatever reason a safety gate at the kitchen door is impractical, you'll need to make extra safety checks. As well as taking on board all the advice for a younger baby (see above), check for anything that's reachable from your toddler's growing height.
This should involve fitting all drawers with child-proof drawer locks to prevent them getting their fingers trapped. Anti-slam cushions will also stop your toddler's fingers from being accidentally slammed in closing doors. Fridge and freezer locks are now essential too - you don't want them accidentally eating or drinking something unsuitable.
When cooking, turn saucepan handles to the back of the stove. Don't leave pet food dishes and bowls on the floor. Put them away as soon as your pet has finished eating and lock the cat flap whenever your baby is roaming. Always secure your baby in a highchair when you're carrying hot food or dishes across the kitchen in case you trip.
Child proofing the whole house
According to the NHS, falls account for around 44% of all children's injuries. Fit baby safety gates across your stairs. You'll need a fixed gate at the top of the stairs but pressure-fitted gates are fine for the foot of the stairs.
Fit baby safety gates across the doorways of any spaces you don't want your baby or toddler walking or crawling into. This could include the utility room, downstairs toilet or conservatory. For more information, read our safety gates guide.
Make sure your baby can't fit through the spaces between your bannisters. If they can, board them up temporarily. Child proof electric plug covers stop your child putting their little fingers inside sockets.
Keep all alcohol locked away and put childproof locks on cupboards that contain cleaning products, tablets and medical products, toiletries, breakables (such as glassware) and sharp implements.
Cut looped ties for window blinds or drapes and place a fixed fire guard with a mesh top around open fires, also keeping matches and fire lighters out of reach.
It is additionally wise to secure rugs with a non-slip underlay. To prevent kids getting hurt on furniture edges you can install corner protectors to all items with sharp edges, like bed frames and television stands. Be sure to secure furniture that can topple over, such as bookcases, to the wall.
Clear all surfaces your toddler could pull themselves up on, such as coffee tables and counter tops, and cover glass-topped coffee tables with safety film. Secure table lamp wires behind furniture, or use a hide-a-cord device so that they're not visible or accessible.
Ensure hairdryers, hair straighteners and other electrical equipment are placed well out of your baby's reach, along with all cosmetics and toiletries. Also - don't use floor-based electric or fan heaters when your child is in the room.
If you use a tablecloth, fix it with clips to prevent it - and everything on it - from being pulled down by a toddler trying to climb up!
Remember to keep all handbags, including visitors', out of reach, as they can contain chemicals (such as perfume or hand wash) that could harm your baby. They may additionally contain small items like hair grips and pen caps that could become lodged in a toddler's nose or mouth.
Lastly lock all doors that lead outside - this includes balcony doors and French windows.
Baby proofing the garden
Babies and toddlers love to play outside during the summer months. To ensure that your little one can enjoy the garden safely you should securely cover (or fill in) ponds and other water features. This includes emptying paddling pools and upturning buckets when not in use. You should keep side gates to the street locked.
Check regularly for any pet or other animal droppings. Clear the droppings away and keep your baby from regularly soiled areas - fence or screen them off if possible.
Always supervise your baby when they're playing outside, and keep all gardening tools locked away securely. If your baby is sleeping outdoors, cover their crib, carrycot or pram with a cat net, which will also protect against flying insects. And finally - don't let your baby dig around in soil with their hands, as they could swallow something toxic.
The amount of things to remember when child proofing a home can seem overwhelming, but in reality most are fairly clear and obvious. By keeping in mind the advice above and applying some common sense, you should be able to ensure that your baby and child can safely enjoy life in the family home.