When people think of child safety at home, they often think of baby-proofing their home. But I’m here to tell you there’s no such thing as kid-proof, or even toddler-proof.
So how can parents keep their home safe for kids? Well, you could always just buy an inflatable human hamster ball and keep your kids in a bubble all the time! 😂
(Or, consider how hosting an Au Pair can be that bubble for your kids!)
Child Safety Starts in the Home
Considering child safety, the average home has dangers in every room, not to mention outdoors. Where can parents begin?
First, assess your home with an eye for child safety. Look for things that are potentially dangerous in the home. Think about how enticing hazards might appear to a small child.
Note: Drowning, poisoning, and suffocation are among the top causes of death in children in the United States.
Second, make changes or purchase products with child safety options. Many products exist, so do some research before you buy.
Third, educate your children about safety at home from the earliest age. Use a very serious tone of voice when telling your baby something is dangerous. Even if he or she doesn’t understand your words, they will get the message.
Finally, be ever vigilant about child safety at home and in public. Do regular checks of your child’s room, play and living areas. Hazards that weren’t there five minutes ago can appear like magic, especially if you have older kids.
Here are several household items and areas which can endanger your child’s safety:
Even toddlers can figure out how to remove outlet covers. These can become choking hazards, in addition to the open outlet. Sliding outlets on top of tamper-resistant outlets may be the best combination of child safety products for this application.
Bookshelves or anything climbable
All large furniture and shelving should come with child safety brackets and be mounted to the wall. Even with this effort, a determined toddler can climb to dangerous heights. From the floor, small children can pull things off shelves, or anything they can reach.
Get into the habit of keeping all breakables up high and away from the edge of counters and tables. Babies love to grab at anything above their heads, not realizing how dangerous.
Cords that dangle
Secure any electrical cords with clips, found in the child safety area of most department stores. Tie up strings from blinds and shades, not just near baby’s crib.
Doors that slam on fingers
Pinch guards are available for interior doors. Obviously not all doors can be removed; some families find it the safest option. Here is where constant vigilance is required, even with the simplest act of shutting a door.
Oven, stove, fireplace
Prevent burns by establishing house rules. No running in the kitchen is a great one. Teach your child safety rules to anyone who cares for your kids at home, including grandparents. Adults need to take extra care when moving hot liquids, taking care that kids are not underfoot.
I cannot say enough about water safety and child safety. Inside the house, be sure to turn down your hot water heater. Close the toilet cover and keep the bathroom door shut until your child is old enough to use the bathroom with supervision. In the yard, ponds and pools should be fenced or gated. Provide age-appropriate life jackets, teach kids to swim, but never, never walk away from children near water.
Hard, heavy, or broken toys
Older kids’ toys can be a danger to child safety for younger siblings. Be sure older kids put away heavy and hard toys, away from the reach of babies and toddlers. Throw away any toys with broken, jagged, or sharp edges.
Loose hangers can jeopardize child safety. They have tiny, sharp points which can injure eyes, scratch baby skin, and fit nicely into uncovered electrical outlets. Keep wire hangers on closet rods.
Knife blocks & other sharp objects
Keep knife blocks and scissors inside the cabinet, out of reach of little fingers, until kids understand the danger. My kids learned to safely use knives, starting with butter knives, from a young age. Older kids may think it’s okay to use knives. Be sure to teach them to place used knives safely out of reach of younger siblings.
Your garage is full of toolsets, saws, car antifreeze, all hazards to child safety. Be sure to keep garage doors shut, tools put away, and keep unsupervised children out of there!
Small parts lying around
When thinking about child safety, don’t forget how much kids love to put everything in their mouths. Children can choke on anything that can fit through a toilet paper tube! This includes bottle caps, older kids’ toys (like Legos), erasers, pen caps, and a million other items you have in your home.
Additionally, children can easily choke on foods such as nuts and grapes. It’s advisable to crush nuts and cut grapes in half (long-ways) until your child’s trachea has grown larger, usually around age 5.
Au Pairs can support parents in ensuring child safety at home.
Host Parents work with their Au Pairs to determine daily tasks. Child safety is one of the most important things to address with your Au Pair right from the start.
Even with daily checks of each room for child safety at home, more dangers exist. Adults caring for kids need to pay very close attention.
Small children need to be taught not to open doors or leave the house alone. Parents and caregivers cannot be there every second but must minimize any unsupervised time. Utilize playpens or cribs when you need to “contain” the baby while you shower or use the bathroom.
Host Families usually care most about child safety. Parents and Au Pairs need to keep child safety at the forefront every day.
Host Parents can help ensure child safety by completing the Host Family Success Workbook. Several sections address safety in the home and in general. Daily or weekly communication and meetings should include child safety.
Parents get peace of mind when they know their child is safe. Au Pairs need to know what their Host Parents expect, so be sure to communicate this well. When kids are safe and happy, so are parents and Au Pairs!