You wait for their arrival with bated breath. You paint their rooms pink or blue in anticipation and fill it up with a world of full of joy – cute stuffed toys, crib, tiny baby clothes etc. But have you paid attention to their safety? Is your house safe for the new addition in your family? Have you baby-proofed it? If no, it is high-time that you think about it. Here’s a guide to baby-proof your house to make it a secure place to raise your newborn.
‘Baby-proofing’ essentially means making the environment surrounding the baby safe by reducing the risk factors that exist. According to Sonali Shivlani, a leading prenatal, lactation and paediatric nutrition consultant, one should ideally plan baby-proofing prior to birth and it should be in place before the baby turns two months old. This is generally the time when the baby will start moving a bit. It should stay in place till you realise that the child understands the dos and don’ts – this may actually be around five years of age. Here are useful and practical tips some of our experts shared:
1. A handy tip by a leading paediatrician, neonatologist and lactation consultant Dr Zinal Unadkat is to take a baby’s-eye view of your home. Get down on your fours and see how things look from down there. What’s within reach? What looks tempting? Where would you go if you could crawl, toddle, or walk? This will help you figure out which cupboards, drawers, and other spaces your child might get into. As they start walking, you’ll have to revaluate again, looking higher each time. As your child grows up, they will want to run around and end up bumping into things, or crawl into open drawers and touch sharp objects.
2. Sonali Shivlani advises everyone to make sure that their furniture has smooth edges. Main culprits are tables especially glass ones with sharp edges. You can buy table corner guards for this purpose.
3. Put locks on drawers so that little curious fingers don’t get squashed while exploring, install safety electrical sockets, lock medicine and other consumables in cleaning cabinets securely and if you have stairs then install stair guards, she adds. There are wardrobe latches available in the market which prevent young ones from opening them by securing the knobs.
4. In the kitchen, make sure that there is nothing left in the open which will attract the child especially cutlery and pots and pans which look shiny and draw their attention. Cover all electrical items like microwave, tea-maker, induction panel with a cloth as they might try touching and opening them. Also make sure they are unplugged and switched off after use. Keep cleaning products at a height where they cannot reach them or else there are chances they will put it in their mouth. Get a lock for your refrigerator so that they can’t open the door.
5. While buying toys, do not opt for any small ones which they can put inside their mouth and accidentally swallow. Take the age-related instructions on the packaging of the toys seriously.
6. The bed or the crib where the baby will spend a lot of time should not be near any window or door. If you prefer a crib, the bars of the crib should not be more than two to three feet apart. If it is, the baby could put its head through it and may get stuck. Once the baby starts growing, when you prefer a bed, make sure it has safety rails on the sides to prevent them from falling off the bed.
7. Dr Zinal Unadkat says, “Window blinds pose a particular hazard because a baby’s neck could become trapped in the cords that raise the blinds or run through the slits. A child can become entangled in a looped window cord and strangle in a matter of minutes. Use cordless window coverings where possible.”
8. In the bathrooms, babies often get hurt due to taps. Cover it with a cloth or faucet cover available in the market to cushion the blow. When you are getting their bath ready, make sure you let them in the bath only after you’ve checked the temperature of the water.
9. Use door stoppers or anti-door slammers on all the doors in the house. Try to avoid automatic locking systems. Simple bolting systems are much safer. And keep them at a level which the baby cannot reach easily lest they bolt themselves in.
10. Dr Zinal Unadkat advises, “Program emergency numbers into your home phones and cell phone. Keep a list of these numbers close to each phone in your home and give the list to all caregivers.”
Also read: What parents of newborns ought to know
Ignoring the safety of your baby can be very treacherous as you won’t be able to monitor them all the time. One mistake can lead to an unfortunate incident so safeguard your little bundle of joy against them.