You’ve managed to get through cravings, hormones, labour and you’ve got your new arrival home from the hospital. Now, you need to start thinking about all the daunting things you have to face – like home-knitted monstrosities from well-meaning elderly great-aunts.
Joking aside, you know it’s important to make sure that your set-up at home is conducive to child-rearing. Newborns don’t exactly get around at any great speed for the first few months, but starting to adapt your home to meet your child’s needs and ensure his/her safety should be done right away.
Have a good think about their changing area. These are usually quite high up for easy use by parents, but consider getting some straps to prevent any falls. Keep baby’s bath time pleasant, and scald-free by investing in a thermometer.
The ideal water temperature for babies is around 38’C. Check your fire alarms and replace any old batteries. Make sure there is a fire alarm located inside or near your baby’s bedroom.
When they start walking, they don’t stop. They will touch anything and everything. Curiosity is great, but make sure that your baby can do so safely. It sounds silly, and yes, you will get odd looks from the neighbours if they spot you through the net curtains, but get down to a toddler’s height and see things from their perspective…
- Sharp corners on furniture – babies don’t look where they’re going a lot of the time, so make life easier and get rid of the pointy furniture, or buy some corner covers.
- Glass tables – one fall and that thing will smash, you get the picture, so take it out of the room.
- Vases, Ornaments – anything that can shatter or be pushed over by small hands (see above).
- Cupboard corners that are easily opened – they don’t mix well with babies’ heads.
- Never leave bottles of pills lying around, even in boxes. If it’s in reach, they will try it.
- Cleaning fluids under the kitchen sink – lock the cupboard or, better still move them all out of reach.
- Doors with no latch – escaping toddlers are not fun to chase!
- Stairs – get a stairgate. At the top and bottom of stairs. Repeat, get a stairgate!
The biggest garden hazard is the pond, even if shallow. It just takes a few centimetres of water. Put a wire cover over any ponds, or securely block them off from wandering toddlers. Garden tools can be a trip hazard for the most sure-footed grown-ups, so pop them all in the shed.
Babies use their mouths as an investigation tool, so if it’s lying around it’s likely to be chewed. Choking and suffocation accidents are easily preventable, but the potential risks are just as easily overlooked. Blind cord loops, drawstring bags, plastic bags, cling film, nappy sacks, coins, hair pins, small toys. Basically, if it’s small or could block baby’s breathing, pick it up.
Another good safety tip is to teach your child about hazards. Introduce words such as “hot” when near the kettle (needless to say, don’t put your baby’s hand on the kettle to prove that it’s hot, the warmth coming off it will be enough). Be a good role model and practise what you preach – don’t run with scissors!
Any new parents will make mistakes, and children will inevitable have the odd fall or run in with a patio door. The key is to ensure that the big stuff is safe, so that kids can learn from their minor bumps and scrapes. Just be there with a Harry Potter plaster and a big hug and you’ll be doing a great job.
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