Ah babies. How they rule our lives—regardless of whether they’re our own or our neighbor’s! We simply cannot resist them; they’re like magnets.
Decades ago, I remember, when my Mom and I moved to another city on a job transfer, we were just settling into our new home when we heard delightful gurgles. We peeked through our window to find the source and sure enough, there it was. The neighbors across the street had their car parked outside and while “Daddy” was getting ready, “Mummy” was holding this absolutely gorgeous baby, who couldn’t seem to stop laughing.
We did resist the temptation of running out and saying hello right away, but our restraint lasted exactly one day. We said hello the next day, and the rest, as they say, is history. Souls met. And continue to be bonded. That child is now 28 years old and a very successful sportsman.
But that’s not the point of this post. What fascinated us was the numerous things his Mom had done around the house to ensure that her hyperactive baby was safe!
Have you noticed this: the moment your child is born, you realize how unimportant so many other things in life really are? Your primary objective becomes protecting your baby from the many dangers she is likely to face in a world she’s so curious about.
But the biggest hazards could be right in your own home. Almost daily, the newspaper carries scary accounts of accidents in relation to toddlers and babies—most of which could have easily been avoided.
In fact, accidents are one of the leading causes of death and injury for children under the age of four years old. The vast majority of accidents happen at home where kids spend most of their time. Worst still is that—as I mentioned earlier—many of these accidents could be avoided.
While you can’t prevent every accident, extra precautions can certainly be taken to protect your kids at home.
I still shudder to think of how he enjoyed placing a stool in the balcony, climbing it so he could peek over the edge. And if I get started on all his shenanigans, I could write a book. In fact, I think I will.
Today, as my niece preps her home to keep her active toddler safe, and adds something almost on a daily basis, I’d like to share seven things I did when my son was a toddler. It isn’t an exhaustive list, but it is a great start!
Seven tips to keep your baby safer at home
Keep Pests Off Your Home
Despite there being so many childproofing and safety products on the market, one of the biggest threats is often overlooked. Insects pose a number of risks for babies and small children. Allergies are a huge concern, but bees aren’t the only insect that causes allergies. Other stinging insects and cockroaches are also known to cause allergic reactions.
The experts at Moxie Pest Control also remind new parents that some insects don’t cause an allergic reaction, but they can cause painful bites and rashes. Bed bugs and dust mites are two insects that fall into this category. Mosquitoes are even more dangerous since they spread a variety of diseases. So this is the first thing to take care of—both for your little one’s safety and for the safety of the entire family. Because who wants to share space with insects and bugs, eh?
Use Non-Toxic Baby Products
Another serious concern is baby products. Infants and toddlers have extremely delicate skin and immune systems. They’re more susceptible to carcinogens and toxins. The harsh, toxic ingredients in some babycare products may be FDA-approved for use, but that doesn’t mean they’re the healthiest.
When I was a baby, my mother rarely used babycare products. Instead she used cloth diapers and natural ingredients that are safe enough to eat. In fact, I did eat them! This doesn’t always fit every lifestyle and schedule, but one thing parents can do is always read the label before buying a baby product. Steer clear of anything with dioxane and ethylene oxide—two known carcinogens. Also bypass products that contain sulfates, parabens, PEG, talc, and phthalates.
Once babies become mobile, they are eager to explore. Cabinets are an immediate attraction because of all the goodies they hide inside. And if they have sliding doors, don’t ask. Children also enjoy climbing through kid-size cabinets, which can lead to injury.
For a few dollars and a couple of minutes of your time, you can childproof all the cabinet doors in your home. Childproof cabinet latches are usually fixed to the inside of the cabinet so they don’t mess up the décor. You can also use magnetic cabinet locks that are too strong for a baby’s little fingers to pry open. Or at least, will make it difficult for them.
Back in the day, when we got our first TV, it was that shuttered model that looked pretty much like a cupboard and was tough to move because of its size and weight. A modern day danger for babies and toddlers is unsecured flat screen televisions, and the issue is becoming more problematic. TVs that aren’t secured can easily topple over and fall on a small child. The number of severe head, spine and bodily injuries caused by TVs has increased from 16,500 between 2006 and 2008 to more than 19,200 between the years of 2008 and 2010. Who wants to be part of that statistic?
Affix every television in the house to a wall or secure it properly to a piece of heavy furniture. It’s also important to supervise children while they’re watching television since three quarters of television-related accidents occur when parents aren’t in the room.
Childproof Electrical Outlets
Electric shock is one of the biggest dangers in the home. Electric outlets are particularly dangerous for children because they are within easy reach and kids just can’t seem to resist trying to stick things in the prong holes.
The simple solution is installing outlet covers. They are very cheap and very effective. An even safer solution is to replace old outlets with tamper-resistant receptacles (TRR). These have spring-loaded shutters in the slots for the prongs. The shutters won’t open unless both are simultaneously pushed in. Why, even I find that tough to use!
Use Non-Toxic Cleaners
The air quality inside a home can be up to 100 times more polluted than outdoors, especially if you live near the main road like I do. The problem comes from lack of air circulation and the use of toxins inside a home. Whenever possible stick to natural cleaners like baking soda and white vinegar—which are more effective than store bought cleaners, minus the fragrance.
Keep an eye on your child
Last in this list, is my most important tip. Keep your toddler in sight. While this sounds impractical to do 24 x 7, it is worth it to try and do it as much as possible. If not your eye, someone else’s. These days, there are CCTV cameras that can show you what your child is up to. Half the time, accidents happen simply because no one was around to stop it.
So dear Mama, invest a little time and money in making your home a cleaner, safer environment. And remember, toddlers are clever. Very clever. They’ll keep you on your toes, do crazy things, and look very pleased with life. Stay stress-free while keeping your baby healthy.
Do you have tips to add?