From about nine months, a baby’s motor skills are more developed; they also have more control and movement of their bodies. Picture: Supplied

The arrival of a new baby is a life-changing milestone for all parents, almost every aspect of your life changes. As the little one grows older they begin to move about more, so does your sixth sense for potential danger. 

Simple things, like leaving a hot mug on the coffee table, become a potential cause for a trip to the emergency room for your baby. According to Childsafe South Africa, burns and falls account for about 17% for leading causes of death and injuries in younger children. A majority of these incidents occur in and around the home.

“From about nine months, a baby’s motor skills are more developed; they also have more control and movement of their bodies. They can balance themselves when in a sitting position and move themselves to crawl without losing balance. They can stretch out to grasp an object within their reach”, explains Parenting and Pampers Institute Expert, Sister Yolanda Mpilo.

Sister Yolanda gives these simple, helpful, and life-saving, guidelines on how to ensure your baby’s environment is childproof:

Household

  • Put protectors around corners and sharp edges such as tables, television etc.
  • If your home has stairs, make sure to install a steady child safety gate, preferably at the top and bottom of the stairs.
  •  Ensure that movable furniture, such as a television or bookshelf, are firmly fixed to the wall.
  •  Garbage bins should be kept in a place where your baby is not able to reach eg, in a cupboard with locks.
  •  All doors should always be closed or locked, so that your baby cannot push them open while crawling.
  •  Dishwasher, fridge, cupboards should have child-proof locks, with cleaning detergents/alcohol/vegetables and fruits, safely locked inside.
  •  Turn pot handles toward the back of the stove.
  •  Loose cloths such as curtains and tablecloths should be placed in such a way that your baby will not be able to reach, or grab and tug. This includes chords from blinds.
  •  Make sure the floor is clear of any loose objects that your baby can pick up while crawling.
  •  If you have pets, make sure to put away their food and water bowls, toys, litter box and out of reach of the baby.
  •  The same precautions should be applied to your outdoor area/garden.
Water safety

  •  Never leave a child alone in a bathtub or in the care of another child.
  •  Check water temperatures before putting your baby in the bathtub. Because babies want to explore and climb over things, they might jump into hot water.
  •  Babies love exploring and playing in water. Every household with a swimming pool should have a fence and a self-closing gate.

Electronics

  •  Always unplug and put away your electronics after using, especially when within reach of your little one.
  •  Put covers on plugs that are located closer to the floor or on eyelevel of your baby when they are crawling.
  •  Loose cords for big electronics such a television, sound system etc., should be fastened in a plastic zip-tie.
  •  Even if your baby is not at that age where they can operate a cellphone, they may use it as a toy or suck on it. Make sure to always keep it locked, and activate Parental Control. Also put it in a phone case and screen protector, to protect it from drool.
Car

  •  In South Africa, it is illegal for a child under three years old to travel without being strapped in a car seat. Also ensure that the seat you get meets the SABS specifications, and follow the instructions supplied by the manufacturer on how to install the seat.
  •  It is advisable that parents put their little ones in a rear-facing seat, until they are at least 24 months old. 
  •  Secure all loose objects that are in the car. This is to ensure that no objects roll over while the car is in motion, to be within your child’s reach. Also, if the car comes to an abrupt stop, the object may collide with your baby and/or their car seat.
  •  Also, consider a UV shield or protective film at the rear windows of your car, to protect your baby from the sun.