Baby-proof your home

Are you aware of all the haz­ards in your home? New dads share their most prac­ti­cal baby-proof­ing tips to help keep your pre­cious bun­dle safe and sound as she grows

Your Baby & Toddler - - Must Reads - BY DIMAKATSO MOTAU

Any new par­ent knows the ut­ter ter­ror you feel when you leave the hospi­tal with your bun­dle of joy – the world is, af­ter all, filled with ac­ci­dents wait­ing to hap­pen. Just wait un­til you get home and see your home for the po­ten­tial vor­tex of mishaps it most likely is! As each new mile­stone is reached, you see more po­ten­tial for calamity. En­ter Dad – the man with the plan to get ev­ery­thing baby-proofed in a jiffy.

New dad Muntu Maseko re­mem­bers feel­ing over­whelmed when he heard that he and his wife were ex­pect­ing a daugh­ter. But as soon as prepa­ra­tions for the nurs­ery were un­der­way, he started think­ing of ways to take safety in all ar­eas of their home to the next level.

New par­ents tend to think that haz­ards are big things but some­thing as small as a tooth­brush can also cause harm if the baby has ac­cess to it. “They can poke things in their eyes and this can lead to dam­age. Just put your mind into baby mode and think about things that are used ev­ery day but can also be dan­ger­ous if a baby ac­cesses them,” he says.


By their na­ture, kitchens are a ma­jor fo­cus when it comes to fam­ily safety. “We had to buy a steel bin as our for­mer plas­tic bin was eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble and posed a huge dan­ger for our daugh­ter Owethu. The sink and kitchen ap­pli­ances like the mi­crowave, the fridge and stove were not a risk as they were higher up. Even if she could use a chair to stand on when she was a bit older, she wouldn’t be able to ac­cess them eas­ily.

“We had to re­mem­ber to al­ways lock the bur­glar door that leads out of the kitchen as there’s a drain just next to the kitchen win­dow. Ba­bies are cu­ri­ous and we didn’t want a sit­u­a­tion where Owethu could get to the open drain and put her lit­tle feet and body in there, think­ing it’s a bath, and end up drown­ing in the drainage sys­tem,” he says.

He said his big­gest baby safety fear was ac­ces­si­bil­ity to pots, as they are of­ten over­looked as a haz­ard but can pose a threat to tiny hands reach­ing for the han­dles and over­turn­ing boil­ing liq­uid onto them­selves. “We learnt to put the pots away in the cab­i­nets in­stead of leav­ing them on the stove and I had to make sure ex­ten­sion cords in the kitchen were no longer on dis­play or across the floor as she could eas­ily pull on them and get elec­tro­cuted,” he says.


Muntu iden­ti­fied this area as his big­gest worry and felt that the best way to avoid mishaps was to keep the bath­room door closed at all times, as there were just too many po­ten­tial haz­ards to cover.

“My big­gest worry was the bath­room, as ba­bies are cu­ri­ous and we had heard of in­ci­dents where ba­bies drowned in a bath or toi­let bowl – both scary sit­u­a­tions for new par­ents. Since we live with ex­tended fam­ily I had to sit them down for a meet­ing and ask them for co­op­er­a­tion in en­sur­ing added safety ef­forts,” he said. “We have the bath and the toi­let in the same room. This is where harm­ful clean­ing de­ter­gents and bath items are kept and even without the wa­ter be­ing a risk, ba­bies tend to eat ev­ery­thing they pick up. Keep­ing the door closed at all times pre­vents these things from hap­pen­ing.”


“We think of the bed­room as our safe space, and so tend to leave things like hair­spray and other cos­met­ics within reach. A lit­tle side mir­ror is a con­ve­nience to me, but with a baby around I had to start think­ing about such lit­tle things. The


tele­vi­sion was also on a lower stand so I had to get a taller one in case she could pull it off and it fell on her lit­tle body,” he ex­plains.

Muntu says with time he learnt to also re­move any­thing from the bed­side ta­bles, as Owethu tore pages from books and de­stroyed them. This didn’t re­ally pose a haz­ard to her but it did cost him valu­able read­ing ma­te­rial. THE LIV­ING ROOM Not only is this the room where ca­bles for the en­ter­tain­ment sys­tem abound, it is also a room packed full of vases, pic­ture frames, flow­ers, and CDS and DVDS – all just wait­ing for baby to dis­cover them.

Muntu bought a wide en­ter­tain­ment stand that would block all the elec­tric plugs and wiring from be­ing ac­ces­si­ble for the baby. “We made it easy for our­selves, as even look­ing away for a sec­ond or quickly get­ting wa­ter from the fridge gives the baby an op­por­tu­nity to pull at some­thing.” A CD and DVD stand with a lock are an added bonus in this room. Also re­mem­ber to get a round- edged cof­fee ta­ble or corner cov­ers (from a baby store).those sharp edges can be quite dan­ger­ous if your baby falls and hits their head.

The last thing you ex­pect is for your comfy couch to be a haz­ard – some­thing Paul Mokoka and his fam­ily learnt the hard way. “When our daugh­ter started crawl­ing she en­joyed climb­ing on and off the couch. One day she missed her step and landed head first on the floor. We spent 12 hours at the hospi­tal ca­su­alty depart­ment be­cause of that over­sight,” he says. SAFETY DOESN'T STOP THERE Muntu fur­ther cau­tions about small toys. “I wanted to buy ev­ery toy un­der the sun for my daugh­ter, but with time I re­alised that some toys are just not baby-friendly. A friend ended up in hospi­tal when their son swal­lowed a small piece of plas­tic from his toy col­lec­tion. It was a scary ex­pe­ri­ence,” he says. Age-ap­pro­pri­ate toys are a must.

Some­times baby-proof­ing re­quires mak­ing struc­tural changes to your home. Paul ex­plains that their home had al­ways had a steep stoep, and only re­alised how dan­ger­ous that could be for a baby when their youngest daugh­ter lost her front tooth from fall­ing off it. “We had to ad­just that fea­ture quite quickly.”

But, he says the big­gest shock was learn­ing that pets can also pose a dan­ger to ba­bies. “Our puppy once bit my daugh­ter while they were play­ing. It must have un­der­stood her cry for help as a sign of en­joy­ing their game, and she got hurt. ”

At the end of the day, any­thing can pose a dan­ger, so keep­ing an eye on your lit­tle one re­ally is the best way to guar­an­tee her safety.

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