Safety and your growing baby

As your baby starts to grow and develop it’s important to make sure that your home is safe and free from danger.

Around the house

Here are some things to look out for, particularly when your baby starts to crawl, pull herself around the furniture, or walk:

  • trailing flexes from electrical equipment – little hands can see them as a good thing to grab on to
  • open electrical sockets – again, little fingers love to poke. Either buy or borrow plastic socket covers or block your baby’s way with heavy furniture
  • hanging tablecloths
  • small objects, such as an older child’s toys, left on the floor
  • hot drinks – don’t let anyone drink them with a baby on their lap and don’t leave them on low tables where they can be grabbed
  • remember not to leave your baby alone with a family pet, however well they get on,
  • keep stuff for your pets such as cat litter trays, food bowls and particularly water bowls, away from where your baby can get to them.

To reduce the risk posed by looped blind cords they should be kept out of the reach of children. If you can, buy blinds that do not have a cord, particularly in your child's bedroom, but where they already exist; do not place a child's cot, bed, playpen or highchair near a window. Tie up the cords or use one of the many cleats, cord tidies, clips or ties that are available

In the sun

Sun safety is even more important for your baby than it is for you. Babies under one year should be kept out of direct sunlight altogether and older babies and children should be protected.

The biggest risk of exposure to sunlight is sunburn. This is painful and can cause permanent damage or even skin cancer, which is becoming increasingly common. One episode of sunburn will double your baby’s risk of developing skin cancer later in her life.

Keep her in the shade as much as possible and use a sunhat or sunshade on the pram or pushchair. Use child sunscreen cream with a high protection factor (at least factor 25) and make sure your baby is covered up with at least a T-shirt and hat. Some manufacturers now sell bathing suits that cover up most of your child’s body.

Other sensible precautions are staying indoors around midday in the summertime or when you’re in a hot country and making sure your child gets plenty to drink in the heat.

Children and water

Children can drown in even a couple of inches of water. Never leave your baby alone in the bath or near water, inside or outside the house, such as a garden pond or even a bucket. Also, it’s an idea to set the temperature of your hot water tap lower than usual to make scalds less likely.

Protect against bumps and falls

Never leave your baby (or later, your toddler) alone on a raised surface at any time. She may roll off and get hurt. Lots of mums and dads can be surprised when their baby learns to roll as it can happen suddenly. So it’s sensible to be prepared.

Never leave your baby alone in bouncy seats or car seats or chairs placed on raised surfaces as there is a risk they can bounce or push themselves off. There are also risks to baby walkers as babies can bump into things or even fall down stairs.

If you do use a baby walker, limit its use to short periods. Walkers won’t help your baby to learn to walk, in fact using one too much may even slow her development slightly by delaying normal muscle control. A baby needs to roll, crawl, sit and play on the floor to reach her developmental milestones.

Actions to take around the house as your baby gets older:

  • always place hot liquids, pans, tea and coffee pots well out of reach
  • keep poisons such as medicine, tablets, cleaning materials and weedkillers out of reach and locked away
  • keep garden tools out of reach and fill in, or fence off, garden ponds
  • use a fire guard if you have a gas or open fire
  • apply safety film or put safety glass on low-level glass surfaces, including doors and tables
  • fit a guard over the controls of the TV, video and DVD
  • put gates at the top and bottom of stairs.

For more advice and information visit the Child Accident Prevention Trust website.

When you’re out and about

Remember that the law requires all children travelling in cars to use an appropriate child restraint for their size and weight. Visit the Department for Transport website about child car seats for more information. And when you go for a bike ride, always use cycle helmets.

Remember other people’s houses and gardens won’t necessarily be set up for baby safety so be watchful when you are out and about.

Last Updated: 29 June 2011
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