Making your home safe for your toddler

Your home is a big playground once crawls turn into toddles. Here’s how to keep little hands out of harm’s way

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Stairgates will stop your toddler wandering into danger

In the kitchen

Watch out for hot liquids

Burns from hot drinks are the cause of 75 per cent of hospital admissions of children.

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“A hot drink can scald a child up to 15 minutes after it’s been poured,” says Alison Tweddle, Children’s Burns Trust co-ordinator (www.cbtrust.org). “Milk and sugar fats intensify a burn, especially on young skin as it’s thinner than an adults”. Never hold a cup of tea while you walk around.

Beware of the iron

A hot iron coming down on a child’s head is an accident you really don’t want to happen.

Try this: Fix IKEA’s iron holder, £3.99, IKEA, www.ikea.com high on a wall, away from inquisitive fingers.

Cables caution

Keep wires from kettle leads far away from the edge of worktops as possible to stop curious little hands having a tug.

Try this: Invest in a cable tidy (£4.99, www.jmldirect.com) to stop your tot getting tangled.

Lock up toxics

Substances that would be harmful to a child need to be right out of harm’s way. This includes alcohol and cleaning products. Add a lock if possible to deter more adventurous tots.

Mind the oven

“I used to tell Bess ‘No, hot’ when she was around the oven. Now, before she goes to touch it, she says ‘Hot’ herself and doesn’t go near it.”

Claire Court, 32, from Cheshire, mum to Bess, 16 months.

On the stairs

Act as a guide

“Toddlers usually have no problem getting up the stairs, the danger is how they get down,” says Sheila Merrill. Keep an eye out when toddlers are still young.

Fit a safety gate

Safety gates at the top and bottom will stop any wandering into danger.

Keep them clear

Stairs are a mountain for little ones to climb without extra obstactles so keep them clear at all times (that means no piles of washing!).

Let there be light

Within reason – we don’t want sky-high electricity bills, or to increase our carbon footprint – try and keep the stairs well lit so you don’t trip.

In the bedroom

Bed rules

When buying a cot or bunk bed, check that the manufacturer complies with BSI standards. You can get the full list at www.shop.bsigroup.com. Keep the bed or cot away from extreme temperatures near the windows, door and radiators.

Also make sure the space between the bed and the wall isn’t big enough for your little one to fall into.

Store bottles

A child’s bedroom is usually a haven for lotions and potions which toddling tots might want to open and taste. “Keep them all on shelves or packed in the back of drawers,” says Sheila Merrill.

In the bathroom

Watch for hot water

“When running the bath turn the cold tap on first, and then add hot water afterwards,” says Alison Tweddle. “Never leave your child unattended in the bathroom, especially when you’re running the bath. A thermostatic mixing valve on your bath provides better control of the water temperature.”

Razors are also a potential danger to children. “Keep razors in a locked cabinet or cupboard high up on the wall,” adds Sheila Merrill.

Electrical equipment and water don’t mix

“Don’t let your child touch anything electrical with wet hands once they’re out of the bath,” says Phil Buckle of the Electrical Safety Council (www.esc.org.uk).

“Never leave drinks near anything electrical, either, as this can lead to a fire, or a person being electrocuted. Teach them how to use electrical appliances safely, and make them aware of the dangers as early as possible.”

In the living room

Bind up blind cords

Britain has the highest record of fatalities of children under 3 dying of strangulation by cords and chains from blinds in Europe. “Use blinds with a break-away connector that releases the cord if there’s any weight on the end. Or use blinds that pull down into position, and snap back up, without using cords,” says Andrew Chalk from the British Blind and Shutter Association (www.bbsa.org.uk). If you already have blinds, make sure the cords are knotted up out of harm’s way.

Try this: The WindowBlindSafe secures the ends of blind cords by wrapping them safely out of harm’s way. £10, www.windowblindsafe.com.

Corners and edges

“Falls account for the majority of non-fatal accidents, but most of these are preventable through awareness, improvements in the home environment, and greater product safety,” says Sheila Merrill. Where should you start? What about all those sharp edges that are a menace to little heads and limbs.

Try this: Childproof sharp corners on tables, cabinets and desks with soft PVC cushioned corner guards from Beaba. They’re fitted with pre-cut double-sided tape, making them quick and easy to fit. £5.99, www.babysecurity.co.uk.

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Why accidents happen…

Parents don’t see things from a child’s perspective. “If you’re childproofing, start by getting on your hands and knees,” says Sheila Merrill, home safety manager at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (www.rospa.com). “This shows you what they see and what’s dangerous to them.”

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