Written by Jackie Cambridge, Quality Care and Education Director at Kiddi Caru Preschools and Day Nurseries
Everyone has heard the term ‘baby-proofing’ but in reality, babies are generally fairly stationary. The real issues arise when they start to toddle and explore. As a child grows their curiosity does too, meaning things you don’t give a second thought to usually, suddenly become a hazard.
Most children begin to develop their impulse control at the age of four, before this, if something is accessible and they want it, no matter how many times you say no, they will do their best to get it. This is why sometimes a change in habit is required to avoid danger.
We have put together a list of common dangers around the house that are likely to be overlooked, making you aware of the potential harm and suggested solutions.
This is a not so hidden hazard; however, it’s easy to forget that batteries come in different shapes, sizes and objects. You may have stashed a pack of batteries out of reach and ensured the back of your little one’s toys are fully secured. But what about the TV remote, digital thermometers, calculators and even bathroom scales?
Button batteries are the greatest safety risk thanks to their small, easy to swallow size. Normal AAA and AA batteries are usually a little harder for a young child to eat, however button batteries can be ingested long before a parent notices one is missing.
Once consumed these batteries can cause severe burns to the esophagus and in some cases the outcome can be fatal.
Spot check each room in the house and which items have batteries, both button and other types, ensure that all backs are secure or the items are removed out of the reach of children.
A big mistake made with blinds is assuming the cord is high enough that little hands can’t get hold of it. But it’s easy to forget that despite still learning and being small in stature, toddlers are resourceful, ever watched The Rugrats?
If they set their sights on the blind cords, a chair, storage box or even a push along car suddenly becomes a step.
Once reachable, blind cords become a very real strangulation risk.
To avoid a potential nightmare becoming a reality, make your window furnishings safe, particularly in your toddler’s room.
There are a couple of ways to do this. Firstly, you can opt for cordless blinds, this completely removes the risk. Alternatively, if you don’t want to sacrifice the style of blinds you can install a cord or chain clip, these secure the cords to the wall, hiding the loop within the clip, making access extremely difficult for little ones.
Loose Rugs or Carpets
You may think your rug gives your hardwood floors a soft touch and makes your room cosy for little ones, however, they are also a trip hazard and a catalyst leading to more serious injuries.
The occasional trip is going to happen, toddlers are notoriously clumsy after all, but you can take the precautions to reduce the likelihood of something worse than bruised knees being the outcome.
If your rug is on a slippery surface you should invest in an anti-slip gripper underlay or some anti-slip tape to reduce movement as much as possible.
Although rugs on carpeted floors won’t be susceptible to as much movement, they’re likely to become bunched up, causing lumps for little ones to trip over. Make sure these are smoothed out before your little one is allowed to toddler.
Of course, a rug isn’t the biggest danger in the household, but a little lump in a rug can quickly become a trip to A&E when a coffee table is involved.
We are not talking about the magnets from those cute souvenirs your nan brought back from Mablethorpe. It isn’t ideal if the magnet disc from the back of these novelty magnet is swallowed by your toddler, but they are likely to cause little harm being fairly weak in strength.
However, if you happen to have any neodymium magnets, on a memo or notice board for example, it’s vital these are kept well out of reach.
Once swallowed they won’t do much harm, however if two or more find their way into your toddler’s mouth the repercussions can be catastrophic. But when more than one is ingested, they will attract each other, likely in the bowel or intestines. This then can cause perforation and result in multiple operations or life altering damage.
If you have little ones that are free to roam around the house without limitation, then it is probably best to not have this type of magnet under your roof.
Liquid detergent pods
Luckily the danger posed by these detergent pods is being spread by their manufacturers. As well as providing child safe containers they also come with warning labels encouraging users to keep them out of reach.
There will be occasions though where a pod has already been put into the washing machine or dishwasher, then in a forgetful dash to retrieve something else to put in these machines, you end up leaving a curious toddler with access. Even for mere seconds the risk is great.
Human error is a part of life, and unfortunately the only way to prevent a nightmarish scenario from unfolding is to make a habit of closing machines when they are left unattended. This way the pod is out of sight and reach.
Dishwashers give toddlers easy access to a range of sharp or breakable objects, not to mention they also make a great hiding place and step to reach more objects on the kitchen sides.
There are a few things that can be done to prevent dishwashers causing harm. One is to stairgate the entrance to the kitchen, allowing you to control access into this room that is typically full of hazards.
If you have an open plan space or prefer not to set space boundaries then you will need to make sure the door is closed before emptying while stacking. Start placing cutlery face down as an extra precaution, if you don’t already.
It’s easy after a log day at work or out and about to discard your bag on the coffee table or sofa. But if you really think about what’s in your handbag, you may think twice before doing it again.
Most people will have tablets such as paracetamol, ibuprofen, prescription medication, hand sanitizer, loose change and chewing gum in their bags - all things that are not suitable for little ones to get their hands on.
The best way to tackle this habit is to install a specific hook for your bag that is out of reach and by the front door. This way you can make it second nature to hang the bag up in this specific place each time you enter the house.
Not only does this keep your bag a safe distance from prying hands, it will also probably save five minutes of time each morning as you will know exactly where your bag will be.
A beautiful gallery wall inspired by your home decor board on Pinterest is likely to become troublesome once your little one is able to climb on the sofa. Intrigue can soon turn into tears if one or more of those frames fall.
Having children shouldn’t mean you have to sacrifice your personal interior touches. Aside from making sure that frames hung securely, you can also make some safer swaps to ensure the safety of your child.
Instead of choosing frames with glass which can shatter and generally make the frame heavier and more likely to cause damage, choose frames that use an alternative such as an acrylic or plexiglass.
These substitute imitate glass in the way that protects your artwork and photographs, but is a lot lighter and shatterproof.
This point just hinges on parents doing their research before making a purchase. House plants can be great, they brighten up a room and give interiors a natural, fresh feel. Some even have the ability to purify the air. Others, however, are toxic when ingested.
Adults are aware that we shouldn’t eat random foliage, a toddler however is yet to have this knowledge.
Instead of taking a trip to the nearest garden center and picking up a load of random house plants based on their look, it’s probably wise to research which house plants are safe before buying any.
Here are a few toxic house plants that should be avoided:
- Peace Lily
- Calla Lily
There are plenty of resources online that can help you discover whether or not the house plant of interest is likely to cause harm to your little one.
Although modern TVs are a lot lighter than the old CRT sets, it’ll still hurt if one falls on your child. Some choose to secure their TVs onto the wall and well out of reach, however this isn’t possible in every household, particularly new builds where the walls tend to be weaker.
For others the only other options are to reinforce that the TV is off limits and should be kept away from. Alternatively, you can buy tethers to secure the back of the TV to either the unit it sits on or the wall. Although not a pretty addition to your top of the line, hi spec flat screen, it will at least give you peace of mind that your little one is safe around your TV while in their explorative stage.