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Thursday 30 November 2023 Dublin: 1°C
Child Safety

The Upgrade: Making your home family-friendly speaks to an expert on how best to make your home safe for a young child.

FOR NEW PARENTS looking after a child for the first time, keeping them safe is a big challenge.

High on the priority list is child-proofing the home. It can be difficult to know exactly what to do, how to do it, and what is enough to guarantee safety.

To find out some of the answers, spoke to‘s Mother-in-Residence, Laura Haugh, about what you need to do to make your home a friendly environment for the whole family.

So, for a parent starting out, what key piece of advice would you give? 

LH: The need to separate it up by room – and the best way to do that is to get down on your hands and knees yourself and identify the potential hazards.

shutterstock_177222692 crawling crawling

OK, so if a new parent went from room to room on their hands and knees, what sort of thing would they encounter? 

LH: If you were looking at your living room you would need to have a fire guard. If you have gas, or a stove, or a real fire. You need to put a protection around the fireplace if it is made of stone or slate. You can get a foam guard that you can stick onto that – they are produced by a company called Clevamama.

You need to block the corners of coffee tables that might have sharp edges with a rubber or plastic guard. And then just making sure electrical sockets are covered off with the little inserts so that a child can’t stick their fingers in.

shutterstock_101236927 child safety child safety

And you have to have two stair gates in your house, one at the top of the stairs and one at the bottom. Young children can be very good at climbing up the stairs but not so good coming back down them!

Is there anything that a parent might miss out? Something important that might slip the mind? 

LH: The other thing is to make sure that blind cords are not available to them to grab a hold of around windows and that lamps have their wires tucked away.

There is a law now for blinds that they are required to have this device that prevents a child from being strangled by them. It fixes the cord to the side of the wall that prevents it coming out and being wrapped around a child’s neck.

A lot of this stuff is kind of pricey though, right? Aren’t stair gates about €100 a go? 

LH: It is reasonably inexpensive. If you go to a DIY store, or say IKEA or Mothercare, you can buy all of this equipment for under €200. You have to buy two stair gates in your house. For those you are looking at anything between €30 and €50 per stair gates.

baby gif

I got my stair gate second-hand from a lady who runs a store called Baby Bay Market; it is a free classified ads website. She also runs these markets all around Ireland and you bring your stuff and you sell it or you can buy other things second-hand. It means you get the stuff at a fraction of the price.

I suppose that isn’t so bad. Still, some people don’t don’t like spending money, what should they do? 

LH: There is practical advice, like making sure handles are turned in, or if you are using a table cloth, to make sure you don’t have a heavy item permanently on the table, like a glass vase, because if they pull themselves up, they will pull that down on top of them as well.

IMG_9989 Alex Oliveira / Laura Haugh with her two children James and Lucy Alex Oliveira / /

Is there a big rush with all of this? Don’t babies spend all of their time asleep, crying or going to the toilet? 

LH: Well, my daughter started crawling from 6 months, and she was walking at 9 months. My son, he didn’t start walking until 18 months, but you really need to have this stuff ready from the get-go. You need to have it done from the very beginning.

Laura Haugh’s tips for making your home family friendly

  • Get down on your hands and knees to find potential hazards.  
  • Take practical steps. Don’t leave heavy items on a table with a table cloth.
  • Take care with blind cords and make sure they comply with safety standards.
  • Save money by finding second-hand bargains on essential equipment.
  • Start early as it is hard to predict when a baby will start crawling or walking.

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