Babies don’t stay small for long, and proud new parents need to baby-proof their homes well in advance of their children starting to crawl and walk.
In fact, says Berry Everitt, MD of the Chas Everitt International property group, the best time to do this is while they are still decorating the nursery, choosing names and shopping for baby clothes and toys – because they are unlikely to have much spare time after they bring their newborn home.
Writing in the Property Signposts newsletter, he notes that although the Child Accident Prevention Foundation (www.childsafe.org.za) states that it is the responsibility of parents and caregivers to provide a safe home environment for their children, the majority of serious injuries to children still occur in and around their own homes.
“Quite simply, this means that parents need to view their familiar surroundings in a new light and do more to anticipate and combat any possible dangers to their babies and small children.
“And it’s never too early to start: Even tiny babies wriggle and move and push against things with their feet, and things only get more hazardous for them when they start rolling, crawling and walking.”
The foundation suggests that parents and caregivers should crawl around their homes themselves to see the child-height dangers, and its website provides room-by-room suggestions for improving safety as well as details of what parents should look out for as their children grow.
Meanwhile, Everitt says, a few of the must-do items for parents-to-be include:
l Installing baby gates on all staircases.
l Installing childproof latches on all floor-level cupboards, especially in kitchens, bathrooms and laundries, where poisonous substances may be stored.
l Covering all unused electric sockets with safety plugs.
l Securing any bookshelves or furniture that could topple over if a child pulls on them or clambers up them.
l Removing or rolling up any cords dangling from on kettles, irons, curtains or blinds.
l Using safety glass in all sliding and shower doors, and marking these doors with bright stickers or tape at child level.
l Installing door holders, which prevent young children from getting their fingers crushed.
l Installing window locks or guards on all windows above ground floor, as well as additional balcony railings if necessary.
l Making sure your pool is securely fenced and covered with a safety net.