Before you bring your baby home it’s vital to give it a thorough safety audit and ensure it’s as safe as possible, writes Nicolette Proome.
There is no greater parental instinct than the impulse to protect your young. However, even though we would spring to shield our little ones from a predator, home safety often goes neglected or, at least, unknowingly ill-prepared.
There are two main areas that need careful attention before bringing home our precious new bundles. First, a safe sleep environment, and second, preparing our primary living space for our baby’s progressing stages of mobility: rolling, crawling, walking to climbing.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) prevention is one of the main safety precautions a new parent can carry out. Don’t let fashionable sleep equipment fool you into believing your child is safe. Always check if the given sleep article has been passed by the World Health Organization (WHO) or Association oof American Pediatricians. Devices such as infant sleep pods, nests, positioners, etc are all a SIDS risk according to WHO, however trendy they might be at the moment.
A safe sleep environment includes the following, according to the AAP:
- A clutter-free cot free from bumpers, blankets and toys until six months of age. Before this, baby does not have the ability to remove an object pressed against their face, potentially causing suffocation.
- Always sleep baby on their back or side.
- Room sharing is encouraged until six to 12 months.
- No bed sharing or co-sleeping if possible.
- Studies have shown breast feeding reduces the risk of SIDS by at least 50%.
- Do not smoke, drink or take drugs around your baby.
- Check all aspects of their cot. Are there nails, screws or splinters sticking out? Is there flaking paint? Does the mattress fit snugly?
Preparing our primary living space can be overwhelming at times as everything might feel like a threat. Yes, we might have to fight off the urge to clear everything, but the four white walls, but room safety can be easily achieved by following these three easy rules: 30, 60, 90!
- 30 rule – ensure anything below 30cm is 100% child proof for your back-lying and rolling baby. This will include small items easily choked on such as animal pellets, marbles, loose change and Lego, ropes or exposed wires. Once your baby learns to roll there is nothing stopping them from rolling under tables, couches or worse, down a flight of stairs. Safety gates are not just for your crawling and walking tots: the moment baby starts to roll is the moment we put them up. Don’t forget safety gates are securely put on either side of the stair case, going up and down.
- 60 rule – ensure anything below 60cm is even more childproof once baby starts to crawl. There is a huge increase in home accidents heading through the crawling, pulling up and gliding stages. We want to ensure all wall units, desks, cupboards, drawers and side boards are securely fitted to the wall. Indoor flower pots should also be planted with non-toxic plants at this stage. This also includes non-toxic fertiliser and eco-friendly pesticide as well. Another huge safety feature that is an absolute must in the home of a crawling baby is electrical socket covers! Babies just love to stick their curious little fingers into these perfectly placed wall sockets, however it is not just what baby can put his finger into but also what he can put into his mouth. There is a huge rise in mouth burns in recent years. This is due to cell phone chargers being left in the wall and baby having a little nibble on the end. These “harmless” charges will give your little explorers some nasty second to third degree burns.
- 90 rule – ensure anything below 90cm or desk top height is free from reachable scissors, knives, poisons, sharp objects, exposed wires, heavy apparatus and chokable This would be the time to take on baby’s perspective. Lie down and look to the sky. What can baby see? Are there wires he can reach or a TV screen he might be intrigued to roll, crawl or scoot towards while accidently pulling onto himself? Crawl around on your hands and knees, go under the chairs and tables, search for any form of jutting out nails or objects with exposed chemicals that baby might reach into and have a sneaky taste. This brings us to another burn threat: chemical burns! Now is the time to move all the chemicals we used to keep under the sink and move into a top cupboard out of reach. Not all household cleaning products have child-proof lids nor are they 100% reliable. This also includes medicines left on counters and low lying cabinets.
Last but not least would be bathroom safety. A running or full bath, regardless of depth, should never be left unattended. Any crawling baby can pull up and topple in. Statistics show that drowning can take place in as little as 6cm of water: that’s less than a brick of butter. Not only should your running bath water be monitored at all times but so should any form of exposed water be lifted above arms’ reach from baby or covered in a kid friendly cover – including the toilet. Ensure the toilet lid is always left down or a safely clip is securely fastened, as a curious tot can just as easily topple in to the toilet bowl as they would into a bath, bucket or tub of water.