It’s not enough to have the power sockets covered or the window grilles locked. There is a long list of potential hazards that most parents often forget about. Think you’re not making any childproofing mistakes? Here are some common ones that could have dire consequences so correct them before it’s too late.
You’ve gone through your baby proofing checklist and covered all your bases.
Safety gate? Check. Corner guards? Check. Sockets covered? Check.
But is your home really free from danger? What about the kitchen cupboards, plastic bags or your handbag even?
Did you know that data has shown that around 60 per cent of injuries occur at home? We can’t be too careful when it comes to ensuring your little one is safe in his own home. So what exactly should you be extra careful with? The Dangers of the Crib Sure we all know that it is safer to put your baby to sleep on his back rather than on his tummy as that greatly reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. But did you stop to think that there are some hidden dangers lurking in his crib as well. Action Needed: Those cot bumpers, pillows, and blankets – as adorable as they are – all pose suffocation hazards to babies less than a year old. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) also advises that the crib should be fitted with a firm, snuggly fitting mattress. Also ensure that there are no gaps between the mattress and the side of the crib. And that cute little teddy bear is also a big no-no for the cot. Keep Your Plastic Bags Out of Reach While it may be really handy to have around, plastic bags are a huge suffocation risk for babies. And if it covers an infant’s face, things can turn bad really quickly. Action Needed: Be sure to store your plastic bag out of reach as soon as you put your groceries or shopping away. Medicines Belong in the Medicine Cabinet According to Dr Junaidah Binte Badron from the Department of Emergency Medicine at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, this is one of the common mistakes parents make when child-proofing their home. “Leaving medication lying around, thinking children cannot reach for them and open them.” This is definitely one to be extra careful with as some of these medications can be fatal to children even in small doses.
Mother of one, Mun Wai Ping had the unfortunate experience of having to send her child to the paediatrician when medication was left lying around. “A bottle of antiseptic solution was left carelessly on top of a set of drawers by my helper, and she reached for it, opened the bottle and poured out the contents onto the floor. She then proceeded to lick the solution off the floor. I brought her immediately to see a paediatrician, who checked her thoroughly and told us to bring her home to monitor. Thankfully she did not seem any worse off by it, but we had the scare of our lives. Luckily she only licked the solution, can’t imagine what would have happened if she had drank it!” Action Needed: Remember, the next time you pop that pill, be sure to put it back into the medicine cabinet where it belongs – safely out of reach of your little one’s curious hands. But it isn’t enough just to store them there. “Accidental ingestions of medications occur when medication containers are not closed properly after use or when medications are not kept locked away in places out of reach of children,” adds Dr Junaidah. Lock those Cupboards If there are any hazardous household materials such as paint, detergent and insecticides in lower cabinets, be sure to keep them out of sight and most importantly, out of reach. If your little one were to swallow any of these, he could fall sick or worse be poisoned. Action Needed: If possible, store these hazardous materials in higher cupboards. However, if that’s not feasible, get a childproof latch to keep them away from your baby. Ina Tay is one such mummy who does just that. She has also made it a point to store dangerous utensils or cutlery in a higher drawer or cabinet. Keep Your Purse If you’re like most women, the minute you come through the front door, you’re likely to dump your handbag on the nearest table or sofa. Well, if you do, it’s time to stop. Have a look inside your bag and chances are you’ll find sharp objects such as a nail file or keys, or coins which are choking hazards. Dr Junaidah stresses that leaving your bag which contains medication and leaving your cosmetics lying around can be potentially harmful. Action Needed: It might be a hard habit to break but be sure to keep your purse out of reach as soon as you enter the house. Walk with Me Your baby is on the move! Well, in the walker at least. As helpful as it may seem, studies have shown that walkers can in fact temporarily delay motor development. What’s worse is that many children have been hurt while in the walker. Your little one could roll down the stairs and as they are able to reach higher, the chances of them grabbing something dangerous off the table is also a chance not worth taking. Action Needed: There are now many stationery activity centres available in the market that allow your child to bounce, swivel and have a whole lot of fun. The Air We Breathe Because your little one spends most of his time at home, it’s also important to care for your air indoors as well. You may be surprised but some pollutants can be chemicals or even living organisms such as mould and pests, and these can be harmful for young children. Even something as seemingly innocent as your dry cleaning or air freshener contains chemicals which can cause irritation to the eyes, nose and throat. Second-hand smoke along with your pet’s fur is another contributing factor to the quality of your indoor air and this can sometimes trigger asthma. Action Needed: Of course, the most effective way to improve indoor air quality would be to remove the individual sources but that won’t always be possible. So ventilation is key. Open the windows to circulate the air. Next on your to-do list is to clear your clutter, as we all know that cockroaches love stacks of paper.
When it comes to minimising pet dander, it’s best to vacuum your home with a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter, which traps more dust and removes most airborne particles. Adding an air cleaner or purifier can also aid in removing allergens from the air. However, it’s still essential that you get rid of the risk factors first. So be sure to dust, clean and change your bedding regularly. Belt it Right According to the Singapore Police Force, anyone below the height of 1.35m is required to be secured with a child restraint appropriate for a person of that height and weight, use a booster seat to supplement the seat belt or an adjustable seat belt. But it isn’t just enough to have your little one in the seat. Many people make the mistake of using the car seat incorrectly. Action Needed: Be sure you choose the right car seat for your child. With the many different types of car seats on the market, this can be pretty confusing. For infants and toddlers under the age of two, they should be buckled up in a rear-facing only seat or a rear-facing convertible seat. As recommended by the AAP, all infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car seat until they are two years old or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the car seat’s manufacturer.