Being a parent is one of the most difficult - if not the most difficult - jobs in the world. Our beautiful little ones don’t come with an instruction manual, and for first time parents, it can all seem like a never-ending trial of nappy changes, sleep deprivation and military-style planning just to leave the house. When they become mobile, you’ll need eyes in the back of your head! We all know about the obvious dangers such as electrical outlets and hanging chords but here are some that you might not have considered...
Don't Forget Dishwashers
Almost every home now has a dishwasher in the kitchen or utility space. Imagine you are part way through loading or unloading when you get distracted. It only takes a second for your toddler to have immediate access to knives, forks, glass and other kitchen implements that could cause harm. Any detergent that is left could be harmful to their skin and eyes. The best solution is to point all sharp cutlery downwards in the utensil basket when loading and at all times keep the dishwasher door closed and latched.
Beware the Balloons
Beware of leaving latex balloons lying around as these can cause a real choking hazard. A toddler may be tempted to imitate blowing up a balloon and accidentally inhale it instead. The latex will attach itself to the throat, totally preventing the ability to breathe. If a balloon pops then make sure you clean away the pieces immediately. Try using Mylar balloons as an alternative and always supervise any balloon play.
Pop Away the Plants
Many of us love to bring a touch of nature to our décor but remember that curious little fingers could be grabbing hold of soil, plant food or pulling off leaves. Toddlers and even babies love to put things in their mouths, and some house plants could be toxic if consumed. Some of our favorites could also be spiky or have sharp pointed leaves, so make sure you move them out of harm’s way.
Lock Up the Loo!
Protect curious little hands by attaching a lock to the toilet seat. Not only is it unhygienic for them to be touching the rim of the toilet, but fingers can be hurt if the seat suddenly snaps down on them. Worst case scenario, toilets can be a drowning risk and a place for toys to be dropped into, so get yourself a toilet lid lock to avoid any mishaps.
Check Those Hand-Me-Downs
Kids are expensive and many of us really appreciate those items handed down from friends and family members to ease the financial burden. However, be aware that safety guidelines change often and older items might not be up to modern standards. Check straps on high chairs for wear and loosening, and never be tempted to use a second-hand car seat with an unknown history. Very old toys may also contain harmful levels of lead in the paint.
Fingers and Doors Don't Mix
For some reason, little ones just love playing with things they shouldn’t and this includes opening and closing doors. Install some safety door locks or finger guards. Even placing a towel along the top of the door will prevent it from slamming shut. Pay particular attention if you have glass doors, putting stickers on them might help to avoid bumped heads.
Family Pets, Not Baby Pets!
Many of us love our cats and dogs and want them to share our lives, but sometimes pets and babies don’t mix well. To make life easier and safer, have a set space for just animals – somewhere the little one can’t get hold of pet food and dog biscuits that might look like a tasty snack for them. This also applies to cat litter trays. Keep toddlers away from pets when they are feeding to make sure the animal gets its own space without feeling stressed. Small chewy dog toys might also present a choking hazard so have a clear distinction between pet area and play area.
Shield Sharp Corners
It’s not until you have children in your home that you notice the huge amount of potential danger from sharp edges. From dining tables and coffee tables to fireplaces and cabinets – there are sharp corners everywhere! When your baby starts to pull himself up to stand a walk, these potential bumps become a reality. Get yourself a load of table bumpers and pop them onto any surface you think could pose a threat to little heads.
Take Out the Trash (ALL of it!)
Be aware of possible access to trash and garbage around the house. A crawling baby will want to know what’s inside every container, so it pays to get down on your hands and knees and look at what your baby sees. You should be able to scan for anything lurking under furniture or beds that could be a choking hazard and judge whether trash containers need to be more secure. The same goes for anything kept in low drawers or cupboards.
Look For Loose Furniture and Shelving
It’s easy to forget that certain cabinets or wall units might never have been firmly attached to the wall. A toppling piece of heavy furniture or television set can have devastating consequences if it were to land on top of a baby. Remember that small children will use just about anything to hand to pull themselves up, and pulling on a drawer can cause the whole unit to fall. Ensure all shelves and furniture are firmly fixed in place.
Pocket Those Purses
It might never have occurred to you that when you have guests, they will more than likely dump their purses and coats in the nearest convenient spot, but this could well be in reach of inquisitive little hands. By getting into the habit of putting all purses, bags and coats securely away in a closet, you will avoid any potential dangers. It only takes a second, while you’re distracted, for small items such as coins to end up in a baby’s mouth.
Check Your Ovens and Ranges
We all know that we should face panhandles in so they don’t get knocked and cause scalding, but what about the dangers of a cooker or heavy range that has not been properly affixed to the wall? If a small child leans on the front of a range or climbs onto an open oven door, the whole unit can tip. Make sure any freestanding unit has anti-tip brackets and always keep the oven door closed. Child safety oven door locks are another great idea for peace of mind.