How to Baby-Proof Your Rental Home
Whether you have a baby on the way or securing a new rental home with a little one to consider, it is important to plan ahead and look at baby proof measures for your home to ensure the safety of your child.
Making your home safe for a newborn or toddler is vital and it can be daunting to know what changes you can make that won’t leave damage to your rental property down the track. As a renter we suggest consulting with your landlord before making any changes that may affect the aesthetics of the property however as the changes you’re considering regard child safety, any reasonable landlord shouldn’t have any major objections.
Here are a few of our top tips that will ensure your home provides a safe environment for your baby or toddler.
GET DOWN LOW
Your house may appear perfectly safe for an adult to live in, but when you consider the perspective of a child or baby your home can pose many hazards and safety issues you may not be able to see.
A quick exercise that can help you identify potential safety issues is to physically get down on all fours and experience each room from a small child’s perspective. You would be surprised at how many hidden hazards can only be seen from the viewpoint of a child. Is there anything within their reach that could be a danger? Small objects tucked away under pieces of furniture are common culprits as these present a choking hazard. Also look at what sharp corners may be head or eye height to a baby and any items they may try and pull themselves up with that may easily fall. Ensuring these items are moved, child safety gates or latches attached, and corners covered will provide a safer home for your baby and peace of mind for parents.
A common home hazard for small children are electrical plug sockets, power strips and loose cables. Small children love electrical sockets. They may have seen Mummy and Daddy plugging items in them, or see they look like little smiling faces wanting to be fed but either way they love to push items into them causing danger to themselves.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, approximately 2,400 children suffer severe shock and burns caused by items being put into the slots of electrical plug sockets. Fortunately, baby proofing these outlets is not only easy to do but also does not come at a great cost. Perma Child Safety electrical outlet caps are a great way to provide a safe solution for you and baby.
Another one to consider is power strips. They may be a great solution for providing additional power outlets however they require being placed on the floor leaving loose cables and unused power outlets vulnerable to little hands. Cables can cause risk of electrocution and if tugged on too hard can cause electronic equipment to topple down onto your baby. Tuck any loose cords away making sure they cannot be reached and purchase a child safety power strip cover. These will cover unused sockets and stop little ones pulling the plugs out.
Furniture tip-overs are one of the most common safety issues in the home and can cause a variety of injuries from head injuries, contusions, lacerations, fractures, and even death. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that in the U.S., a child is sent to the emergency room every 60 minutes because of falling furniture. On average, two to three children die every month as a result of falling televisions, furniture, or appliances and children between the ages of two and five are at the highest risk. Their motor abilities allow them to navigate the home by themselves and they are curious about objects that appear out of reach.
Recommendations to reduce the safety hazard of furniture falls is to anchor your furniture to a wall but if you are a renter, you may not be able to do this. Carefully choosing you what type of furniture you place in your home that can help to lower the risk without anchoring items to a wall.
- Buy furniture with a wider base, heavier back panel, and/or interlocking drawers
- Beware chests where children could climb in and lids with latches could close causing potential suffocation.
- Buy furniture that meets ASTM F2057-19 standard, a voluntary standard regarding furniture stability
- Do not put a TV on furniture that is not intended for that use
- Keep TV cables and cords out of reach
- Keep objects such as toys and remote controls off furniture to stop the temptation for children to climb up.
WINDOWS & CORDS
Windows and window covering cords are one of the top five hidden hazards found in the home. Each year young children and babies die from accidentally falling out of windows or strangulation caused by loose window cords. Below are some helpful tips to consider when preparing your rental home.
- Install window guards. For windows on the 6th floor and below, use window guards those adults and older child can open easily in case of fire.
- Install window stops so that windows open no more than four inches.
- Never depend on screens to keep children from falling out of windows.
- Whenever possible, open windows from the top – instead of the bottom.
- Keep furniture away from windows to discourage children from climbing near windows.
- Move all furniture, cribs, beds, and climbable surfaces away from windows.
- Apply removable hooks to keep window cords well out of the reach of children.
- Install only cordless window coverings in homes with young children.
- Make sure tasseled pull cords are as short as possible. Continuous loop pull cords on draperies and vertical blinds should be pulled tight and anchored to the floor or wall.
There are many everyday materials in the home that can be a poisonous safety hazard to a small child or baby that you may not have considered. The usual suspects of alcoholic beverages, medicines, and cleaning products are all items we think of first as posing the most threat to our baby or child and put away. What we may forget is all the other not so common items laying around the home grounds that could also lead to an unexpected trip to the hospital if consumed by accident.
There are two steps you should take to ensure that these are kept away from your child. Firstly, make sure they are kept in a place that is out of their reach. Secondly, secure the cupboard they are kept in with removable child locks for cabinets, safety latches or door handle locks. This way, even if your child does somehow manage to reach the cupboard, they won’t be able to get inside. See below for our list of other hazardous materials you may find around the home.
- Aerosol sprays
- Essential oils
- Lithium batteries
- Paints, thinner, remover
- Dry ice
- Nail polish/remover
- CO2 canisters
- Hand sanitizer
- Pool chemicals
INSTALL PRESSURE MOUNTED BABY GATES
We hope that the above safety considerations and rental-friendly solutions help you to keep a safe yet enjoyable space for you and your family however we know that at times the safest solution may be to keep a curious baby or child from entering a room that may pose as a safety concern, or you are unable to safely supervise at all times such as when cooking or working from home.
Installing pressure mounted baby gates can help provide the perfect safe solution for you and your rental home without having to drill holes into a wall, yet still strong enough to keep little ones away creating a baby barrier in key areas of the home. They are easily installed into the door frame between any two rooms in your home and can then be opened and closed at will. When not in use they are able to be neatly placed to one side ensuring doorways are not blocked creating additional hazards. You can also purchase extendable baby gates for larger door frames, or baby safety barriers suitable for pets and outdoor use too.