I find it amusing when some parents declare that they have their house babyproofed just because they have rounded off all sharp corners of furniture with corner guards.
While the effort they put in is something to be applauded, preventing furniture and fixtures at home from becoming a risk to children and babies is much more than that.
Every item at home has the potential to fall or be fallen from.
Falling furniture can appear to be weird science when you are a new parent.
But there are many ways furniture can tip over and I hope you won’t find out for yourself at home. Because what you want is to avoid that scenario altogether.
For example, your baby can fall against a book shelf causing it to lose balance and tip over, or he may climb up on it in an effort to reach a brightly colored book and fall… dragging the shelf down with him.
There are many more impromptu incidents like these to be ready for. And these are not just limited to the behavior of babies. Kids can be vulnerable too.
Here are some tips to help minimize the risks of falling furniture causing injuries.
1) Avoid buying certain types of furniture
This is only a temporary measure until your kids are old enough to take care of themselves around the house.
Babies especially, only get more curious when you don’t want them to do certain things. Keeping them away from hazardous furniture will only make them want to explore it more.
Furniture with wide shelves and footholds can be irresistible to children for climbing. Doing so can cause the item to topple and crashing on the child himself.
The same with freestanding items. They must be avoided if possible. Stand fans, stand lamps, coat racks, etc, are just accidents waiting to happen.
2) Secure large furniture against the wall
Because of space constraints and layout common sense, we often position large furniture like book shelves and display cabinets against the wall.
And many of these furniture are designed and fabricated to be tall and slender.
Under normal circumstances, there is a very low probability for them to tumble. But make no mistake about it. They can collapse easily when a they suffer a sudden impact. This is especially so for tall book shelves.
The same with heavy home appliances in the kitchen like the oven or in the living room like the slim LED TV set.
Many responsible furniture retailers include devices to secure their devices to the wall. Or they include simple holes or catches on the furniture that can be screwed or fastened to the wall.
For appliances, use angle braces or anchors to do so. TV sets for example can come with mounting brackets to mount the product on the wall.
Various products these days also come with straps and buckles to serve the same purpose. They should be used when there are children in the house.
This goes with all sorts of furniture like:
Furniture with drawers can arouse a higher level of curiosity in kids. They just playfully want to know what’s hidden in the drawers. Maybe they can think that you have hidden their favorite toys in them too.
Children can fall over while trying to reach those drawers that are too tall for them.
This is why drawers should be fixed with safety latches to keep children from opening them.
Another thing to note is to avoid placing toys or items tempting to toddlers on high places. You might have done it to stop them from spending too much time on a particular toy.
But when left unattended, kids might climb up to try and reach for them, slip, and fall over.
3) Arrangement of display items
Homeowners love to decorate their homes with items and monuments.
It could be that glass snow globe you receive as a Christmas present the year before, that huge purple amethyst you bought while traveling in Asia, or even the scaled down souvenir of the Eiffel Tower you got from Paris.
These display items are often placed in areas for exposure and aesthetic reasons. The manner in which you display them has to be adjusted when there are children at home.
No longer should you place them on the edge of tables or shelving attached to the wall.
Table lamps for example, should be pushed further back towards the wall instead of at the center or edge of table. In a child’s room it is best to install lighting fixtures on the ceiling or walls so that they are out of reach.
Overall, anything heavy and can cause injury should be placed out of reach to children.
It is all for the best.
4) Furniture padding
Padding was mentioned at the beginning of this discussion. And it is worth revisiting because every baby will walk into furniture.
If you are lucky, it will only be a benign bump. If your luck is against you, the baby might suffer a scratch or bruise. In worse cases, well… let’s not even go there.
It is therefore of paramount importance that every sharp corner of every furniture and fitting has to be padded.
You can probably get 4 for $1 in the dollar shop. So please don’t be thrifty with these little things that do so much.
And don’t just focus on the corners. Investigate for uneven and sharp edges on furniture too. Wood furniture can also have splinters that you have to take note of.
5) Get advice from people with experience
Lastly, one of the best ways to prepare the house for a baby’s arrival is to invite your friends who have children over for an inspection.
You can trick them over by declaring a birthday party or any reason for celebration.
Then as they arrive for the social affair ask for tips on keeping the house baby safe.
Parents are usually very upbeat about sharing their experiences with their children. Their knowledge and know-how is a valuable resource which you should tap on.
They are you friends after all. Who else are you going to trust with an important issue like this?