Practical advice for new parents

Baby Proofing your Home

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Chances are that you've already given thoughts to baby proofing your home, but although you may feel you have plenty of time on your hands to get the job done before your little bundle starts to crawl and walk, you'll be surprised at just how quickly that time will come. The best time to baby-proof your home therefore is as soon as your baby comes home from the hospital.

There's a lot to do to baby proof your home, and you'll constantly be thinking about potential hazards once you get into that frame of mind. As silly as it might feel to do it, one of the best ways to see the potential hazards and to baby proof is to see the world from your baby's perspective - and the only way to do that is to get on your hands and knees and crawl around the house. Really try to look in the places that you might otherwise glance over (from the perspective of an adult) because you can be sure that's where your little bundle of joy will go. Anything that the baby can pick up, pull at, push at, scrape, touch or swallow are all potential hazards.

Sometimes it's hard to see all the potential dangers because it's hard to imagine scenarios where the baby could possibly get themselves into trouble but, as they say, 'an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure' so it's worth taking the time and erring on the side of caution.

Baby proofing the floor

Everything on the floor that can go in to the mouth must come up. Babies are notorious for putting everything possible into their mouth, so even the most innocuous items should be considered a potential hazard to your baby. Pay particular attention to items such as drawing pins, sewing needles, staples, nails, coins, toys from other children etc. that may have found their way into the dark recesses of room corners and under furniture. You'll also need to keep the floor extremely clean when your baby starts to crawl, so now is a good time to rearrange things for easy cleaning.

Baby proofing the back of the sofa and chairs

Anywhere little hands can get to is fair game for items in the mouth, and one of the best places to accumulate all manner of items is behind sofa and chair cushions, particularly if you have other children. Make sure to vacuum regularly behind the cushions, and make it part of your morning ritual to check for any objects that might lurk behind the cushions.

Baby proofing cupboards, drawers and doors

Move items such as scissors, knives, plastic bags etc., up from the lower drawers and cupboards and into higher ones, and make sure that all the cupboard doors and drawers have baby proof latches on them. Even if the knob to the door is quite some height above the baby, he/she might still be able to prise the door open from the floor level, so put latches on all doors the baby can get to. Keep an eye out also for any knobs or handles that might be loose (or can be pulled off), that might find their way into your baby's mouth. This also goes for the knobs and controls on your stereo or other such equipment.

Sharp corners or door frames

When a baby crawls she does so head first, so the head will be the first thing to hit a sharp object or corner. While it's not practical to go around the house and cushion every sharp corner there is, just pay particular attention to likely high-traffic areas - the area where you know your baby will spend a lot of time.

Rubbish or waste bins

Easily overlooked so keep in mind where you throw your rubbish. At best, keep the rubbish basket outside, out of reach of your baby. If that is not practical, keep the basket behind a baby-proof cupboard.