How safe is your home?

An obvious safety risk for a visiting little one. It looks so fun to climb.

Our homes are meant to be safe aren’t they? Well mine isn’t and here’s why. This post is by Nicola Baird.

I may be proud of my 7th book Homemade Kids, but one of the three books I’ve written but have yet to get published, called the Toxic Home, taught me some interesting lessons.

While writing it during Nell’s first year I remember the pleasures of comparing what most of us thought was safe (eg, our smoke alrmed, lockable,burglar alarm guarded homes) with research realities that showed the least safe place – or at any rate most unhealthy – was actually inside the home.  Don’t worry I’m not going to scare you with what I found out about flame retardants, VOCs, all pet flea killers or even nit shampoo.

To be or not to be toddler safe?
But having recently had 16-month-old Edgar around for impromptu tea with his Dad, I am ashamed by how quickly my home has become non-toddler safe.

We may be one of the safest houses around for avoiding dodgy chemicals sold as domestic cleaners and no anti-bacterials will ever darken my door. But, there’s a pond to drown in, and a raised platform to fall off. The dog poos in the garden – a risk of blindness if incredibly unlucky. My secateurs weren’t out of reach as Edgar quickly discovered. The little boy also dialled 999 when we were hurriedly tidying up another area to ransack.

It was laughable how wrong things can go so fast, but Edgar isn’t a bad child who ought to be on a naughty step.  In fact he seems pretty normal. It made me remember just how many little problems can be solved by good housekeeping if you are likely to have a baby or under three year old visit your house for more than 10 minutes a year.

The simple solution is to have plenty of out-of-reach shelves that small explorers cannot reach. You could try a diversionary tactic of having a low drawer/cupboard where all sorts of things are put that can be played with safely. Try filling it with saucepans and lids or wooden spoons for banging. Add a tangle of baskets or empty yoghurt pots to pile up and knock down and include something like an empty plastic jar filled with a few dried beans (even six is enough) to provide a nosiy shaker. Now I just need to get organised…

Your know-how needed
If you’ve got any quickie diversionary tips for childless friends or those with teenage children do share. Anyone having to share a weekend, holiday or even Christmas trip at a Granny’s house will thank you. Nicola x

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