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Baby On Board? Tips For Child-Proofing Your Home And Car

It's time to get down on the floor and crawl around.

25/05/2017 10:58 AM AEST | Updated 25/05/2017 11:01 AM AEST
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Nothing is safe.

Maybe you're expecting a baby in a few months time or you've got a sweet little newborn. Either way, congrats! Right now your home is probably all grown-up and pristine, but pretty soon there's going to be a crawling, curious soul exploring and as such, you need to make some changes.

"You need to start thinking about childproofing when your baby becomes mobile," Carolyn Ziegler, Co-founder and Product Development Director of Dreambaby told HuffPost Australia.

"As soon as they start to roll over, move their cots way from the window so they can't get wrapped up in overly long blind cords. Dangling blind cords can potentially lead to strangulation. Make sure you also install blind cord wind-ups as an added layer of protection. Once they start to crawl you're in a whole different league and you need to do a full safety audit."

First things first -- get down low and take a look at your home from the view of your curious bub.

"Get down on all fours and look up at the world from the point of view of a crawling child. It's amazing the hidden dangers you will immediately identify such as dropped coins, which are a choking hazard, and medicines, which can be both a poison and a choking hazard."

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Look familiar?

"Pick up anything you see on the floor and regularly sweep and vacuum your floors. Move sharp objects, knives and poisons including medicines out of the reach of children. Keep them up high where they can't be reached and in secured cupboards," Ziegler said.

Think about what they can reach up and grab and then consider the ramifications of that.

"Remove tablecloths -- crawling children can reach up and pull them down, which becomes a problem if you have heavy articles on the table, like pepper grinders and candlesticks, as they will come tumbling down too, potentially harming your child.

"Reconsider your coffee table. Choose either a very round-cornered table that is really solidly made (no glass!), or nothing at all. Remember to also keep an eye on any food and coffee that you place on your table as they can be a hazard of their own," Ziegler said.

When it comes to cabinets, you'll be amazed what babies will get into, and how quickly they are able to do it.

"If your cupboards, cabinets and drawers don't lock with a key then keep children out of them by properly securing them with a variety of inexpensive child locks and latches. I also suggest trying a variety of different locks throughout the home as kids learn through repeated observation. By using a variety of different locks and latches that work in different ways, it becomes harder for young children to work out how to open them. Also, make sure you have the right lock or latch for each cupboard depending on the type of handle.

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You'll need latches, and lots of them.

"Block off power points with outlet plugs. Also, make sure you use corner cushions on all your sharp-edged counters and tables. Prevent doors slamming on little fingers by securing them using a door stop or under door gripper," Ziegler said.

Large, heavy items need to be addressed too. These pose a falling or crushing hazard if your bub pulls on them to stand up.

"Secure heavy furniture and free-standing TVs with furniture straps or anchors. It's also important to install furniture straps or anchors properly. You need to follow the instructions and always secure them to a solid part of the furniture and a solid part of the wall.

"Last but not least, secure your dishwasher at all times with a latch. Dishwasher tablets and liquids can be toxic, even after the load is finished. Remember children or pets can touch this as they go about their day," Ziegler said.

Next, take a look at your garage, particularly if it's attached to the house.

"People with garages often neglect to child-proof this area for some reason. Perhaps they think children can't access garages easily but remember, children get everywhere! For a start, and especially if you use your garage for handyman or DIY activities, protect and cover long and loose electrical cords with cord clamps and keep remotes high out of reach.

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Covering power points with plugs protects little fingers.

"Also, for any room above ground level, always secure windows with window locks so that children can't open them wide enough to potentially fall. Always block off laundry areas with a gate and keep laundry liquid and powder up high and in a locked cupboard, as they are toxic. Also remember to remove outdoor furniture from balconies -- children can use furniture to climb up on with dangerous consequences, and children love to climb!" Ziegler said.

Ziegler points out that although it's important to address all rooms, the kitchen and bathroom are the spots which pose the most hazards.

"All rooms need addressing but the kitchen and the bathroom demand special attention. Never leave your child unattended in the bathroom even if your phone or doorbell rings. It only takes a few seconds for a baby to drown in just centimeters of water or to come in contact with contaminated water from toilets. Always use a toilet lock for added protection. Hairdryers and other electrical items also pose danger when water is in the picture and children are drawn to hair dryers because they like the noise."

"As for the kitchen, make sure you install oven and refrigerator latches, especially if you are storing alcohol or medicines in the fridge. If you are cooking and children are present use the back burners and turn saucepans and pot handles to the back. Personally I think it's best to block off kitchen areas with gates as an added layer of protection, especially if your oven is low," Ziegler said.

Got pets? Animals are a great way to advance your child's learning but caution needs to be applied here, too.

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They might be besties, but kids and animals need to be taught boundaries, too.

"Always supervise children around dogs. Children sometimes poke dogs in play but that poke may cause the dog to react and the situation can become dangerous, fast. Pets can also pose a threat to small children because they can potentially smother them with love, literally! A gate helps to keep dogs separated from small children. Nowadays you can buy gates that convert into playpens which are extra useful if you have a pooch. If you have a cat, keep children away from their kitty litter which is poisonous, and again, keep them away from small children as they too can smother them."

When it comes to the car, make sure there are no loose items such as bottle caps or hair elastics that bubs can reach for and put in their mouth.

"Buy a mirror so you can keep an eye on your child when driving without turning around. You can also make eye contact with your child that way from time to time which soothes them and make driving less stressful and therefore less dangerous. Buy window shades to keep the sun off them, especially in summer. I find a Baby on Board sign is also useful -- it does seem to have a calming effect on other drivers."

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