Babies – how to make your home safe

By Live Dr - Tue Sep 02, 2:30 pm

Babies – how to make your home safe

Reviewed by Dr Stuart Crisp, paediatric specialist registrar
What you need to do to make your baby safe?

Children have many accidents in the home that could be prevented by making the house and garden safer. It is also essential to choose baby equipment and toys that will not do your child any harm.

Making your home safe also means being aware at all times of where your child is and what they are doing. And, should an emergency arise, knowing how best to react.

A bed is not just a bed

It is important that your baby has a good bed as they spend a lot of time there. A cradle can be cosy and romantic but may not be strong and safe enough after a couple of weeks. When your baby is able to turn over, it is time to replace the cradle with a cot.

You should choose a quality cot with bars between 4.5 and 6cm apart to avoid the baby getting its head stuck. The height of the sides should be at least 60cm so your baby cannot climb over the edge. Make sure there are no mobiles low enough to get caught in.

If you wish to protect the mattress, use a rubber sheet covered in cotton – not plastic which can cause suffocation. Make sure to fasten it securely under the mattress.

Your baby’s blanket has to be light and of the right size. Do not use a pillow as it can cause suffocation and is bad for the baby’s back (babies should sleep on their backs as it helps to prevent cot death). Water beds are not safe for small children for the same reason.

How to use a nappy changing table safely

The table where the baby’s nappy is changed has to be stable with a high-sided cushion to avoid the baby rolling off.

However, do not let this tempt you to walk away leaving your baby on the table. Even a newborn is strong enough to suddenly fall over the edge.

Are you buying a safe dummy?

The dummy must be undamaged and completely fastened to the shield. To try it out, hold it in one hand and the shield in the other and pull hard. There should be no loose parts.

The shield has to be at least 4cm across to prevent the baby swallowing it. To be sure the dummy will not reach too far down the baby’s throat, don’t buy one longer than 3cm.

How to choose safe toys for a baby

Small toys are dangerous. Babies puts everything in their mouths to check them out. If they swallow something, it can choke them.

Make sure teddy bears and dolls have no easily removable parts the baby could swallow.

When your baby gets presents, you should see if they are tagged. Toys that are not safe for children under three years of age must, according to the law, be tagged.

Buttons, coins, stones and other small objects are similarly dangerous to small children.

Some musical boxes and toys can give out such loud noises that they are a hazard to a baby’s hearing.

What is a safe playpen?

Playpens should be strong, stable and durable enough not to collapse when the baby moves around vigorously. Care should be taken that there is nothing the baby can get caught in on the inside or outside of the playpen.

If the playpen is upholstered, the material should be strong enough to avoid the baby biting or scratching through it and accidentally swallowing some of the stuffing.

It is important that you measure the height and space between the bars of the playpen. The height has to be at least 60cm so the baby cannot crawl out and the space between the bars should not be more than 4.5 to 6cm.

Is the bouncy-seat safe for baby?

The bouncy-seat is a strain on your baby’s back and hips. Use it as little as possible. If you choose to use it, be aware that it can be dangerous to place on tables, or other high furniture, as the baby can fall off by rocking the chair.

How to check that a pram or pushchair is safe

The pushchair or pram has to be stable. It has to have effective brakes, strong joints and a safety mechanism to ensure that the ‘carriage’ pram will not suddenly collapse.

If the folding top has a bright colour on the inside it may bother your baby’s eyes. During the summer, you should feel the temperature underneath the folding top with your hand before putting your baby in the pram. This is to make sure that the pram is not too hot. On sunny days, be sure to place the pram in the shade.

Before putting your baby in the pram, make sure the top is fastened securely to the bottom.

If you are using the pram for shopping, it is a good idea to put the groceries in the basket underneath to avoid destabilising it.

Pushchairs should not be used for small children as their backs are not strong enough. Wait until the baby is able to sit up unaided.

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