As parents, we do everything in our power to keep our children safe at home and to protect them from harm. We install child safety gates throughout the house and place child locks on the kitchen cupboards. We pick up small items that could get lodged in a baby’s throat and we keep dangerous chemicals on the top shelf.
Even so, over 150 children die each year in Australia from preventable injuries and another 68,000 are hospitalised. Accidents happen. No parent ever thinks it will happen to them. We turn our backs for just a moment and that’s all it takes.
Keeping your child safe
It’s easy for new parents to be so overwhelmed that they overlook small hazards, or for experienced parents to become a little more relaxed around a new baby and to not see trouble until it’s too late.
Items that we use every day can become a hazard for a baby. Areas of the home that adults easily navigate like stairs, cupboards and windows could prove dangerous for a small child.
With the help of Kids Safe Australia, we’ve compiled a list of areas in the home to be mindful of as you care for and protect your baby. You can download a complete home safety checklist from the Kids Safe website.
In this article, we focus on the potential hazards around the home and give you a room-by-room rundown of things to be aware of. We hope it will help keep your home safe for your baby… and every member of your family.
- Baby safety in the kitchen and dining room
- Baby safety in the lounge room
- Baby safety in the bedroom
- Baby safety in the bathroom
- Baby safety in the laundry
- Baby safety in other areas and outdoors
- Baby safety in general
1. Baby safety in the kitchen and dining room
You might think a baby is too young to get into any trouble in the kitchen, yet it’s the room in the house where the most accidents occur. Babies can crawl under your feet when you’re carrying a pot of hot food, tug on your skirt when you have a sharp knife in hand or pull themselves into a cupboard full of trouble.
Here are some ways to keep your child safe in the kitchen and dining areas.
- Install a child safety gate and ensure it’s locked when you’re cooking or preparing food
- Install child safety locks on all drawers and cupboards
- Keep all hazardous items in lockable (or out of reach) cupboards, including:
- Knives and other sharp utensils
- Strong ingredients such as chillies
- Cleaning products and chemicals
- Medications including vitamins
- Plastic bags
- Use rear burners on the stove whenever possible
- Make sure pot handles are always turned away from the front of the stove
- Keep the dishwasher closed at all times
- Keep the microwave safely out of reach
- Ensure the cords for toasters, kettles and other appliances are out of reach
- Have a fire blanket/fire extinguisher in the kitchen (and know how to use it)
- Place hot drinks and alcohol out of reach
- Use non-slip placemats instead of table cloths
- Fasten children to the highchair using a five point safety harness
2. Baby safety in the lounge room
The lounge room is a place to relax and unwind. Unfortunately, we can take our mind off of our bub for a few seconds and they can get into all sorts of strife.
- Secure large items of furniture, such as televisions, and entertainment units and bookcases to prevent them falling on children
- Arrange furniture to allow easy access and avoid trip hazards, collisions and ‘baby blind spots’
- Position furniture away from windows
- Check for sharp corners on the edges of furniture
- Make sure heaters are placed a safe distance from curtains or other flammable materials
- Install safety glass or safety film to low level glass doors and windows
- Apply stickers or frosting to glass sliding doors to prevent collisions
- Keep your Christmas tree ‘baby friendly’ which may mean erecting a smaller one on a table for a couple of years
3. Baby safety in the bedroom
A place for rest and play, keeping your baby’s bedroom safe should be easy, but there are little things we can overlook.
- Ensure cots have rails and that they comply with Australian Standards
- Make sure the cot mattress is firm and fits snuggly into the cot
- If painting or coating your cot, find out about safe paint options
- Position cots away from windows, blind cords and electrical outlets
- If possible, use organic, allergy-free bedding and bed linen
- Dress children in low fire danger’ nightwear
- Check that your change table is stable, the mat is secure and all items you need for changing are within arm’s reach
- Ensure there are no potential choking hazards such as loose buttons on pillows or loose eyes from toys
- Check that toys are age appropriate, in good condition and checked regularly for damaged or loose parts
4. Baby safety in the bathroom
Scalds, burns, choking and drowning can all happen in a very short space of time. Here are some guidelines for keeping your baby safe in the bathroom.
- Supervise children at all times in the bathroom
- Avoid accidental scalding by installing a hot water temperature device so that tap water is no hotter than 50°C
- Always test bath water temperature before putting your baby in
- Keep hazardous products such as personal care items, razors and medications safely stored in a lockable cupboard
- Keep electrical appliances out of the bathroom
- Use non-slip mats in the bath, shower and on the floor
5. Baby safety in the laundry
Keeping your laundry child safe only requires a few minor adjustments.
- Store hazardous substances such as cleaning products in a lockable cupboard or ensure they are out of reach
- Keep poisonous substances in their original container
- Make sure the nappy soaking bucket has a firm fitting lid and is out of reach
- Keep the iron and ironing board in your laundry cupboard when not in use
6. Baby safety in other areas and outdoors
Once your baby can crawl, it doesn’t take much for them to be outside exploring the garden, the pool area or the shed.
- Supervise children in the backyard at all times – even if older children are caring for younger ones and especially around family pets
- Fence all four sides of your pool or spa and ensure there is a self-closing gate
- Check the condition of play equipment regularly. It’s easy for some to deteriorate when outside
- Play areas should be fenced securely, checked and maintained regularly and located away from the driveway
- Check that your garden is free of poisonous or hazardous plants and remove branches and twigs that are at baby’s eye level
- Look for potential water hazards such as a goldfish pond, buckets, bird baths or small wading pools
- Keep all poisonous and hazardous substances, such as paint, pesticides and flammable liquids, stored in a lockable cupboard
- Unplug power tools and pack them safely away after use
- Always check behind and under your car and know where your baby is before leaving
- Check that your pram or stroller complies with Australian Standards and use the five point safety harness when in use
- Ensure your baby wears a hat and natural sunscreen when outside
7. Baby safety in general
- Install and test smoke alarms on each floor and near the kitchen
- Make sure all floor coverings including rugs and mats are free of trip hazards
- Install child safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs to prevent falls
- Ensure an electrical safety switch is installed and working
- Fit safety covers into unused power outlets
- Use power boards instead of adaptors and make sure they’re not overloaded
- Unplug all electrical appliances when not in use and ensure cords are out of reach
- Check that blinds and curtains cords are out of children’s reach to avoid strangulation
- Protect your baby from heaters and open fires with a secured guard
- Store matches, lighters, batteries and lit candles out of reach
- Make sure to also train older siblings (and guests) on safe practises when around your baby
We care about safety
Petit Early Learning Centres care deeply about the wellbeing of your child – not only when they’re with us throughout the week, but when they’re at home too. Book a tour of our state-of-the-art centres and see the practises we’ve put into place to keep your precious one and our wonderful team safe at all times.
Disclaimer: This checklist is for general information only.