Baby & Toddler Safety
The world is an exciting place and your growing toddler or young child is going to want to explore every bit of it. Unfortunately, this will expose him to numerous dangers- most of them in your own home.
It is essential that you "baby-proof" your environment and acquaint yourself with potential hazards outside of the home.
Baby-Proofing the Nursery
Your baby's nursery should be a safe haven where you feel comfortable about leaving baby alone, and where he can be completely safe to crawl around and play as he grows older.
Ensure that the room is well ventilated and furnished with flame-proof, baby-safe materials. It should be designated as a "no-smoking" area.
All baby's furniture should have smooth, rounded edges and should only be painted with lead-free paint. Ensure that the bars on the side of baby's cribs are spaced too closely together for him to squeeze his head between them. A changing table should have raised edges, to avoid possible falls. Your baby's crib needs nothing more than a thin, washable mattress and a blanket at first- pillows and thick bedclothes could suffocate a young baby.
Cords of window blinds could pose a risk of accidental strangling once your baby becomes mobile.
Avoid placing fluffy, stuffed toys to put in your baby's crib, until your baby is over the age of 18 months, as they could pose a suffocation risk. Animal toys with eyes that can be chewed off or stuffing that can be pulled out are also a choking risk.
Toys with metal joints could be dangerous if your baby enthusiastically dismembers the toy. Only buy soft toys specifically designed for young babies. These would usually be made of fabric with a shallow fur pile or no fur at all, and would have eyes painted on, rather than plastic eyes. Toys made of thin, brittle plastic can shatter, leaving sharp edges exposed. Always follow age guidelines on toys.
Baby-Proofing Your Home
Within months of birth, your baby will begin his journey of discovery around your home. He will want to touch, taste and stick his fingers into everything. Always assume that your child is capable of reaching more than you think, and lock away anything that is potentially dangerous.
In the Kitchen:
In the Bathroom:
Reviewed by Professor Peter Cooper,
Head of Department Paediatrics and Child Health,
Johannesburg General Hospital, University of the Witwatersrand