Baby Proofing Your House
A high chair is designed for your baby to be safely contained when eating. Being at table height allows your baby to be part of family meals. Using a high chair gives them more independence as they start to explore their food and learn to feed themselves.
When buying a high chair make sure:
- It has a strong and sturdy framework.
- The base is wide and stable.
- It has a five-point harness that goes over the baby’s shoulders, around their waist and between their legs.
- The backrest is fixed – it needs to remain stable and not move.
- All the locks work and are locked in place when putting your baby in each time you use the high chair.
- There are no moving parts to trap and crush fingers, or sharp edges that could cut your baby.
- If there are wheels or castors on the chair, at least two of the wheels have well functioning brakes.
- The height of a high chair makes it a potential fall hazard, so developing safety habits is essential.
- Always make sure your baby is strapped in.
- Always supervise your baby.
- Make sure you move your baby’s hands, arms and legs out of the way when fitting the tray.
- Do not allow your baby to stand or climb into or out of the high chair.
- Regularly check for broken or loose parts, exposed padding or torn material these can be a choking hazard for your baby.
- Make sure your baby can’t touch or pull on electrical cords, tablecloths, curtains, blinds or cords from the high chair.
- Never allow other children to climb on or play near the high chair.
Safety gates can provide an effective barrier to prevent your exploring baby from coming to harm. Babies love trying to go up and down stairs so having a safety gate at the bottom and top of the stairs gives you a level of security. In high-risk areas such as the kitchen, the use of a wall-mounted gate is the safest option.
Playpens help keep your baby safe as they become mobile and when you are busy doing housework (such as ironing) or if you have other young children or pets. When buying a playpen make sure:
- It is stable, sturdy and remains rigid when your baby leans over the side so it won’t tip.
- Spaces between the bars are no larger than 95 mm, as larger gaps may trap your baby’s head.
- Sides are at least 500 mm high.
- Latches and locks can be locked securely and cannot be undone by your baby.
- It is easy to clean.
- It has a non-toxic finish.
- Always supervise your baby while they are in the playpen.
- Never use a portable cot as a playpen.
- Make sure the playpen is assembled correctly using the manufacturer’s instructions and all latches or locks are secure.
- Place the playpen away from curtains, blinds and stairs.
- Stop using the playpen once your baby can undo the latches or starts to climb.
Toy boxes are a great way to store your baby’s toys. When you buy a toy box, choose one without a lid, or if there is a lid, choose one that has stoppers on the lid that leave a gap of 12 mm or more when the lid is closed. This will keep your baby’s fingers and hands safe. As with all baby equipment, toy boxes should be placed away from hazardous areas such as windows, stairs and balconies.
Toys for babies
You will be amazed at the number of toys your baby will accumulate. There are many claims made about the educational value of some toys and fortunately there are lots of alternatives that provide equal or more value educationally to your baby. Your baby’s most important toy is you, their parent – you have the highest educational value of all baby toys. A baby will quickly throw aside a toy if a parent is willing to involve them in a game or conversation.
Are you aware that all toys should meet a mandatory Australian and New Zealand Standard? This standard aims to make toys safe for children aged from 0–36 months.
For specific toys:
- Stuffed toys need to be carefully checked to ensure that all seams are intact and there are no small parts such as eyes or buttons. The toy should also be easily washed.
- If a push or pull toy has a rigid handle, make sure it is well fixed to the toy. Toys with strings or ropes to pull them along can be a risk for strangulation. If it does have a string attached it should be no longer than 220 mm.
- Balloons (including burst balloons) should be kept away from babies. If you want your baby to play with a balloon always closely supervise and never leave unattended. Always tie a knot in the end instead of using a plastic balloon tie.
- Floating devices for use in a pool need to be sturdy. Remember these are not safety devices – babies need to have an adult with them, and be supervised at all times when near or in water.
- Toys that are strung across playpens, prams or strollers with cords, elastic, straps or string should be assembled using the manufacturer’s instructions. Do not string toys across the cot or bassinet as these can be a choking or strangulation risk when you baby is left unattended.
- If you find a toy has become unsafe, throw it out so it no longer poses a risk to your baby. Make sure you destroy the toy to stop it becoming a risk to another young child.