Baby Safety Tips for Parents

Although babies shouldn’t be wrapped in cotton-wool, there is a certain level of safety absolutely required in any home. Electrical socket covers, keeping wires out of reach and putting potentially poisonous chemical cleaners up high are some of the more obvious safety measures most families take, but there are some dangers which are not obvious, but still need to be addressed. The following are tips for keeping babies safe in the home and with a little common sense and preparation, they will ensure a happy, safe life for everyone.

The home itself can be a potential hazard. Parents spend a great deal of time carrying babies around, right into toddler-hood and being aware of the surroundings is vital to baby safety. Try to consider the following.

1 – Keep floors clear – Put away the toys of older children (or teach the older ones to do it themselves). Don’t leave books and magazines on the floor. Both are trip and slip hazards. Tuck chairs under tables and ensure rugs are held to the floor with carpet tape or pins. Again, potential trip and fall areas.

A side note concerning carpeting – Watch the high traffic areas of the home, especially stairs which get worn thin, frayed and become slippery. If cost is an issue in replacing worn carpeting, it’s better to go without carpet on the stairs or in these areas than to risk falls. Also check wooden flooring regularly for splinters and loose nails. The bathroom is another risk area. Have at least one non-slip mat on the floor, ensure the floor is dry before taking baby into the room and have a non-slip baby mat in the bath too. Remember that the units in a bathroom get wet, from both water and condensation. Parents should not use basins, cisterns and baths to help them get up after kneeling unless they are dry to the touch as a hand slipping on a wet surface will surely take out the rest of the body as it goes.

2 – The kitchen – A very obvious hazard area for babies, but again, there are a few hidden dangers to consider. Often, parents have an almost limpet-like attachment to baby, especially if baby is not content to just sit in a chair/crib and watch. Wandering around the kitchen with baby on hip is not ideal, but is sometimes unavoidable. Life must go on, so the first move is to invest in a baby sling. Carrying baby in a sling gives the parent both hands free. This is also means the hands are there to act as buffers if there is a fall. Think about what is happening, especially when cooking. Steam is potentially highly dangerous. Watch out for kettle steam and from the hot water tap too. Consider turning the temperature on the water heater down to prevent scalding hot water flying out of the taps. As baby gets older, and many are walking before reaching a year old, place fire guards around the oven and in front of radiators, and put cupboard locks on all storage unit doors.

3 – Alarms – Every home should have a smoke detector, two if there are more than one level of living space. The one that gets forgotten is the carbon monoxide detector. This hidden danger can come from numerous sources, from the oven, from gas leaks, space heaters and generators and puts around 15,000 people in the hospital each year, 500 of whom will die. Get all appliances checked for safety on a regular basis and install carbon monoxide detectors in the home.

There are a few other alarms, such as baby breathing mats which sound if baby has a gap in breathing whilst alone in the cot, and mats which detect bed-wetting, but the important two here are a thermometer and a baby monitor. The thermometer should be set to sound if baby’s room dips below acceptable levels of warmth (between 16-20° is the norm). The baby monitor should be turned on whenever baby is alone in a room, the companion part being carried by the parent, or next to the bed at night. This allows constant monitoring of the baby for sounds of distress.

4 – The small stuff – As soon as baby can grab things, hide every small object. Choking is the fourth largest cause of death in under-5’s and every parent should know how to use first aid techniques to help a choking child. The problem is, babies are very good at finding the most innocent seeming objects and turning them into potential death-traps. The only way to deal with this is to look around the home with the eyes of a child. This may require getting down on the floor and literally coming down to their level, but it is surprising how many more hazards become obvious to adult eyes when they get down to baby and child level. Ever wonder what happened to that button from those jeans in the back of the wardrobe? Baby will find it where it rolled under the sofa, so get down and look around and remove any and all potential threats… in every room, because once baby starts rolling and crawling, baby will be everywhere.

5 – Pets – Babies love animals. They are soft, useful for hauling themselves up on and down at their level. Pets may not be quite so happy about being a climbing frame, and it is vital never to leave a pet alone with a baby. For all baby may not mean any harm by yanking out handfuls of fur, Moggy may not be very forgiving and claws are meant to be lethal weapons. The other thing to remember around pets is hygiene. Parents need to wash their hands between dealing with a pet and then with baby. Litter trays, food bowls and pet beds are magnetic draws to little ones and should be placed well out of reach, preferably in an area which is for the pets alone, perhaps in a utility room.

Although this all sounds terrifying, the potential for horrifying danger seeming to lurk around every corner, take a deep breath and relax. Remember that this article is a concentrated dose of danger, deliberately condensed to allow easy guidance on keeping baby safe in the home. It’s not all going to happen at once and, if the guidelines are followed, it will likely never happen at all. Think like a baby, look round at their level and use common sense when moving around the home. Would it be a danger to an adult? Then chances are it is twice as dangerous to a baby, so deal with it and know that a baby in the home will be safe and well protected.