In a typical childless house the owners tend to want to show off their prized possessions, their expensive vases, designer light shades and the urn containing Great Uncle Albert’s ashes. More often than not these esteemed items are placed unwittingly at toddler height, perfect for adventurous young people to knock over and destroy. So when all of a sudden a child is introduced into the house a major rethink is in order.
You may think that it won’t be like that for your little angel. We can teach her to be sensible. If we learn to divert her attention and say ‘no!’ enough she will eventually learn not to touch. Many experienced parents know that this is probably not worth the hassle.
Keeping valuable or tempting objects out of the way, reintroducing them slowly as the child grows older is often a far less stressful way of keeping your possessions and more importantly your child, safe. Without toddler proofing, parents need eyes in the back of their heads. Once you have your home toddler secure you can relax a little, so here is a guide to what you need to consider.
Latches, locks and prohibited areas:
Stow breakables in a child proof cupboard or up high on a shelf out of reach. If your house has a good room, with expensive furniture and a snow white carpet, it is probably best to declare this room out of bounds.
Some cupboards will need to be latched and out of bounds, while others are open to play in and explore. For example cupboards with vegetables and thick-skin fruit or large saucepans are always popular and much safer, whilst those with plates, glass, sharp knives, detergents and drain cleaners are an absolute no-no.
One way to prevent inquisitive little ones from getting into cupboards and drawers is to buy a roll of wide super sticky tradesman’s tape. A short length struck across a drawer, cupboard, or fridge, dissuades all but the most determined toddler, yet it can be easily peeled back for adult access.
Little people can be kept out of the refrigerator with a remarkably simple technique. Take a short piece of elastic cord, the bungee rope type used to hook articles onto the roof rack of a car. Clip the hooks around the back of the fridge and across the face of the door round to the other side. Now you have a spring-loaded door which only opens a short distance before the tension gets too great for toddlers young muscles.
Make-up, creams and indelible markers:
Many toddlers believe they have wonderful artistic talents, particularly when it comes to finger panting on work tops, the floor or mirrors. Make-up creams and indelible markers should be kept well out of reach.
Dangers, dogs and sharp toys:
Houses which have glass doors or windows that come down to floor level pose a danger to the child. If he falls through the glass he will suffer severe cuts and even greater injury if he rides his tricycle through an unprotected first floor window to the ground below. Block such dangers with furniture, fit temporary bars across the widow and use safety glass where possible.
Safety plugs should be fitted over power points. It is not a bad idea to have a commercial circuit-breaker fitted to your fuse box, and then at least you can rest safe in the knowledge that if a knife does get jammed into the toaster, junior will still be around to jam it in another day.
Toys with sharp edges that are likely to cut or damage either the child or something else are best removed altogether. It is imperative that all medicines are stored safely in a securely locked cupboard high up out of harm’s way. It is a common mistake for people who are very conscientious about storing medicines to leave even more dangerous products within easy reach in the kitchen or laundry. Bleach, rat poison, weed killer, drain cleaner and dishwashing detergent are the main offenders, and they must be locked well away.
Pets and toddlers generally mix quite well, but there is no place in the same house for a savage dog that bites when teased, however important his role as a guard dog may seem.
Fortify the garden:
Coping with an active toddler is always easier if you have access to a small piece of secure garden. They need the space, but you can never relax unless there are fences and gates to prevent escape onto the road. Where there is particular danger, some parents find chicken wire is a cheap form of fencing and although it’s not as safe as a brick wall, it is an affordable alternative.
Where fencing is inadequate and roads are busy, all doors leading from the house must be immobilised. The best methods are a high level latch, security chain or deadlock.