Tuesday 24 November 2015

How to Keep Your Toddler Safe at Home

Accidents are the main cause of death in children under 5. Every year about 500,000 children under
the age of 5 go to hospital because of an accident in the home according to the NHS website.

There are some people who decide right at the beginning that they are not going to move things and are going to teach their baby not to touch certain things. Well good luck to you. After 3 weeks of Bear hitting the gas fire with anything he could find, because he liked the noise, I gave in and bought a fire guard even though we never have the fire on.

I only have Bear 3 days a week so some of my solutions are temporary, like the cover on the glass unit. If he lived with us I couldn't be bothered to put the board on and off all the time so I would move the unit or change the doors.

toddler in room with gate across doorway and board at glass furniture

The main causes of accidents of this age group are;

  • Lack of supervision
  • Falls
  • Fire
  • Choking
  • Burns and scalds
  • Poisoning
  • Drowning

So how do you keep your toddler safe at home?

1. Supervision

I know in a perfect world you would never take your eye off your toddler for a second but we all get distracted and we have to get on with caring for other children or cooking or other essential chores. We know we can't watch them 24 hours a day so make your home safe. Follow the advice below. Don't forget when in other peoples homes you will have to supervise. Assume their house will not be safe. Be especially careful with visitors handbags, many people keep all sorts of drugs and other dangerous things in them.

picture of gate in doorway

Have you thought about a playpen? Or use a gate on one room.

2. Falls

Toddlers are explorers, they will climb and at some point they will fall. We have to keep them safe and make sure that if they fall it is not from a height.

The greatest risks are;

Stairs. Use stairgates. One at the bottom and before they can escape their cot, one at the top.

Windows. Make sure all upstairs windows cannot be opened by toddlers.

Balcony's. If you have  a balcony keep the doors to it locked. Ensure any railings are intact and that a toddler cannot squeeze between them. Remember toddlers are like cats, they can squeeze between things that look too small!

TV's and Furniture. Toddlers have been killed by pulling heavy furniture including TV's onto them, Secure these to the walls.

Highchairs. Always use the harness to secure them, don't rely just on the tray.

3. Fire

If you have a fire buy a fireguard. Whatever one you like, I bought an old fashioned one from Mothercare. There are some really pretty ones too.

Smoke Alarm. Make sure you have them fitted and that they work. If you live in the UK you may be eligible for free smoke alarms from the fire service.

Matches etc Keep these out of reach, always!

picture of fire with guard

4. Choking/Suffocation

Blind cords. Shorten them with a cleet or tie them up high. Babies and toddlers die by being caught in the cords. It is possible to buy wands instead of cords and we have that in his bedroom.

Don't use cot bumpers or attach anything to the cot that a baby could get trapped in

Toys and small things. Keep small object including peanuts away from small children

Food. There have been reports recently of children choking on grapes and other small fruit. Be aware and cut them into quarters.

Nappy bags. Everyone knows that plastic bags are dangerous for children but so are nappy bags, keep these away and out of reach.

5. Burns and Scalds

If using an oven that the toddler can reach then keep them out of the kitchen. If that is not possible then confine them eg a playpen if the kitchen is big enough or their high chair.

We have a built in double oven that is quite high. We try to use only the top oven when Bear is with us as he cannot reach it...yet.

Always use saucepans on the hob with the handles facing away from the front.

Tea and coffee is always left at the back of the kitchen work surface or put onto the mantel piece until it is cooled, nothing with hot (or cold!) liquid in it is put within Bears reach. Our kettle is pushed to the back of the work surface too.

cup of fruit tea on mantelpiece

Bath. Fill with  cold water first, then add the hot. Children have been scalded by jumping into the bath before its ready. Always use a bath thermometer too.

Radiators can get very hot. Ensure those in play rooms have covers or are turned down.

6. Poisoning

We have cupboards in our bathroom and downstairs toilet where we keep all our nasty's eg bleach, limescale remover. At the moment Bear has no access to these cupboards. The door on the down stairs toilet when opened blocks the under sink cupboard but I know when he is older I will have to put locks on the doors or move the cleaners. There are purpose made locks and although I haven't tried it the Lindam xtra guard gets great reviews.

All our medicines are kept in a wall cupboard that he cannot reach.

It is so easy for children to poison themselves, especially toddlers who will not eat your lovingly prepared food but will drink bleach and eat toilet blocks. Make sure they are locked away or out of reach. Ensure that all spray cleaners are turned off and lids are securely replaced.

7. Drowning

A child can drown in just a couple of centimetres of water. Ensure ponds, pools etc are not accessible by children. Fence them off and if you can't them empty them.

8. Other dangers


We do not use socket covers. They have been reported and tested as dangerous. We either have appliances plugged in or they are left just as they are. Bear has shown no interest in them at all. He does like light switches though.


Get a new mattress for every baby. A cot that conforms to safety standards. Do not use bumpers or give pillows and soft toys to babies in their cot. They do not need them.

Baby sleeping bags are great. Ensure they fit and are not too big. They keep babies warm without them overheating and they can't suffocate by pulling them over their head.


Toddlers heads are at table height. They seem to bang their head on anything and everything. We have moved things around a bit but  one thing we haven't moved is the table in the kitchen, it is in the correct place for meals but just where Bear can bang his head. We didn't want to stick anything to the furniture and ruin it so have just pushed pipe lagging on. I know as soon as he realises it can be easily removed it will be used as a weapon of mass destruction but until then!

table with pipe lagging on edge

Glass in furniture

We have Billy units from Ikea, they have safety glass that if broken will shatter into tiny squares (like a cars windscreen) but I still do not want Bear hitting it and breaking it or diving head first into it. We have put up hardboard. It suits us as it can be quickly removed and stored behind the door. You could use safety film but when I searched it had mixed reviews.

glass furniture with hardboard covering it

First Aid

Everyone caring for babies and small children should have a basic idea of what to do in the case of an accident. Do you know what to do if a child is choking, cut or burnt?

Please read up on this so you know what to do and don't have to look it up after the event.

Lots more advice at ROSPA.

What safety tips have I missed?


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