Now that your child is crawling or walking, a whole new world has opened up to them. Things they’ve previously admired from afar are now within their reach, and unless you have eyes on the back of your head, you won’t have your child in your line of vision at all times. It’s time to take a look around the house and see what dangers lie in wait for your now mobile toddler.
We’ve partnered with Real Insurance to get you started on toddler-proofing the main danger zones in your home: entry and exit points, your kitchen and the bathroom. We’ve also put together lots of handy tips and tricks for toddler-proofing the rest of the house as well.
1. The doorways
The front or back door is the first place your mini Houdini will look to make their escape. Make sure that the doors are shut all times and ensure that your mobile munchkin can’t hoist themselves up on anything to access the doorknob and/or locks and get out.
Safety checklist for doorways:
- Do all easy-to-open front and back doors have doorknob safety covers?
- Do all sliding doors have childproof locks?
- Are door keys stored nearby, but out of reach of children?
- Have you removed rubber covers (a choking hazard) from existing door-stops?
- Can your child crawl through any pet doors?
- Do you have finger-pinch guards on internal doors?
2. The kitchen
The kitchen is often the hub of the home, but it is also a major danger hotspot. From sharp objects in the cutlery drawer to the heat of the oven door, there are many things to consider once your baby can move around independently.
Safety checklist for the kitchen:
- Have all the sharp objects, such as cutlery, scissors, knife blocks, cling-wrap boxes, been moved out of reach?
- Are there any appliance power cords dangling off the bench?
- Is the kettle pushed to the back of the bench and emptied after each use?
- Do you use the back burners and turn saucepan handles inward?
- Do you have a stove top guard?
- Can your child reach the stove/oven knobs? Do you have knob covers?
- Does your oven door get hot?
- Are plastic bags (a suffocation hazard) out of reach and knotted in the middle?
- Is the microwave out of reach of children? Does it have a child lock?
- Do you have mice/rat bait poison under the fridge or behind stove? Are they out of reach?
- Do you use placemats instead of tablecloths (which your toddler can more easily pull down)?
- Do you have choking hazards in the kitchen ‘junk draw’?
- Do you have door-locks on your cupboards, fridge and freezer?
- Do you have chemicals (including dishwashing powder/tablets) in reach of children?
- Do you have fridge magnets (a choking hazard) on the fridge?
“Set aside a ‘safe cupboard’ for the little ones to explore. Filling it with plastic kitchenware, utensils and small pots and pans will go a long way towards distracting them from the ‘no-go’ areas.” ~ C. Taylor (Elwood) VIC
3. The bathroom
Children can drown in only a few centimetres of water – never leave a child unattended in or near a bath. Unfortunately, water isn’t the only peril in a bathroom. Some of the most common bathroom accidents involve poisoning, electric shocks, burns, falls and illness caused by hazardous germs.
Safety checklist for the bathroom:
- Are sharp objects (eg. razors) out of reach of children?
- Does the bath have a non-slip surface or mat?
- Is your hot water service set to a maximum 50°C as recommended by the Victorian Building Authority?
- Do you always empty the bath water after bath-time (drowning hazard)?
- Do you unplug all electrical items in the bathroom when not in use? Don’t forget electric toothbrushes.
- Do you store the toilet brushes and bins out of reach of children?
- Have you fitted a toilet lock to the lid?
- Do you have a safe place for straighteners and curling irons to cool down? Are the cords out of reach?
- Do you store shampoo, conditioner and pump soap out of reach?
- Do you have a heated towel rail?
“Keep a spare towel, nappy and a pair of pyjamas in your bathroom so you won’t be tempted to leave your child to grab them.” ~ M. Sheppard (Surry Hills) NSW.
TOP TIPS for toddler-proofing the rest of the house…
- Look for hazards. Get down on your hands and knees and look around your house from a toddler’s perspective. What do you see? Are electrical cords poking out? Can you reach and pull down heavy objects? Can you poke things into electrical wall sockets?
- Identify ‘no go’ zones. Rooms like the toilet, your bathroom, your office or the laundry are safer kept locked.
- Keep emergency numbers in your phone. When adrenaline is running high, the last thing you want to be doing is panicking about remembering emergency phone numbers. These Australia-wide services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; add these numbers in your phone, on the fridge and beside the home phone right now:
Police, Fire or Ambulance services – 000
Poisons Information Centre – 13 11 26
National Home Doctor Service (after hours GP home visits – bulk billed) – 13 74 25
SES Flood & Storm Assistance – 13 25 00
- Know what to do in an emergency. Do a first-aid course, download an App, have a cheat sheet handy in high danger areas like the bathroom or pool area. Have a well equipped first aid kit at the ready.
- Be safe, not sorry. If it can strangle, suffocate, drown, electrocute or otherwise injure or kill a child, now is the time to do something to prevent it from happening.
- Prevent electrocution. Install a safety electrical switch. Put safety plugs on all unused powerpoints. Keep electrical cords cabled together and out of reach. Unplug all appliances when not in use. Never leave electrical items plugged-in near water.
- Prevent strangulation & suffocation. Tie up all loose blind cords on fixed cleats and install tensioning devices. Don’t use a toy box with a lid. Teach older children to be careful about packing away small toys that could be choking hazards. Look in drawers and for other small objects.
- Prevent poisoning. Move all chemicals in to a lockable cupboard or keep in a cupboard up high our of reach. That goes for poisonous items in the laundry, garage and sheds. Remove any poisonous indoor plants. All medication should be stored up high and in a lockable safety box.
- Provide for safe play. Kids will be kids and running and exploring is big part of their everyday activity. Anchoring heavy furniture (including the TV), adding gates on stairs (at both ends!), putting furniture corner cushions on coffee tables, using finger pinch door stoppers etc. will go a long way to providing a kid-friendly, open space for you kids to explore and run around.
Take a look at these sites for further information on how to toddler-proof your home…
Raising Children Network
Better Health Channel
Sids and Kids
Australian Competition & Consumer Commission
Child Product Safety (VIC)
The Department of Health
Victorian Building Authority
National Home Doctor Service
The information contained within this article is provided as a guide only. Refer to your own state/territory for current government legislation. Last updated on 18/03/15.
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*Issuer – The Hollard Insurance Company Pty Ltd ABN 78 090 584 473 AFSL 241 436. Any advice provided is general only and may not be right for you. Consider the PDS available at www.realinsurance.com.au to decide if the product is right for you.
(This post is sponsored by Real Insurance)