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We are born curious. Interest is key to learning, so we evolved to explore our surroundings and try to understand everything in it.
This starts young; so, your bundle of joy may be a hazard to themselves sooner than you think. They learn about texture, temperature and gravity amongst many other things by tasting, touching and climbing everything in sight.
In Ireland, most injuries to babies and young children up to age 5 happen in the home. You can prevent many of them by being aware of and prepared for their curiosity:
Crawling around your home will allow you to see from your child’s perspective and show you many of the potential dangers you need to baby proof. Work systematically room by room to identify potential hazards.
Block off the stairs with wall mounted safety gates at the top and bottom of the steps. In time teach your child to climb up and down safely, under supervision.
Child locks are essential for cupboards containing hazardous materials. Ideally, cupboards containing poisons like cleaning products, dishwasher and laundry tablets should be locked and the key kept out of reach of children. You may have noticed many manufacturers of cleaning products have advertisements warning of their potential dangers because the brightly coloured liquids and tablets make them very appealing. In Ireland, 7,500 people a year are hospitalised as a result of accidental poisoning, many of them children. For remaining presses, child locks are a must, if you don’t want your worldly possessions spread out across the kitchen floor.
Although they may not be the first thing that spring to mind when you think of childproofing your home, children love to play with blind cords. In their eyes, it is an opportunity to learn about cause and effect, move the cord and the blind moves. However, the dangers are significant, every year a number of children injure themselves with blind cords and, sadly, over the years some have died from strangulation. Remove this risk by:
Use screw mounted furniture straps to keep heavy pieces of furniture like bookcases, flat screen TV’s or chest of drawers from toppling on to babies and toddlers using them to pull themselves up.
Low level and easy to get to, electrical sockets pose a fatal risk to crawling babies. Install socket guards around the house, a simple and effective solution.
Of all the rooms in the house, the kitchen poses most threat to young children. It really is a space designed for adults with a myriad of dangerous items for little ones. Everything from sharp edges of knives to hot water have the potential to do serious harm. The best advice, if you are busy in the kitchen, is to place your child in a high chair or a playpen to keep them out of danger.
Changing your baby on a lower table or even on the floor, will make sure that they cannot roll off the table and hurt themselves. If you are going to change them at a height, always hold them.
If you aren’t sure where to start, this child safety checklist from the HSE is a great way to get started.
Once your home is safe, it is a wonderful place to be. Help your child learn and explore in a safe way with these Things to do at Home.