Making Your Quirky Home Baby-Proof

Years ago, when you first set eyes on that fixer-upper in the nice street you’ve always admired, you probably didn’t think about the future too much. The house that you bought needed a lot of work and overtime – with a lot of savings – you have made your fixer-upper into the most beautifully modern home while still retaining a lot of the original features. The thing is, that old, eighteenth century home that you fell in love with at the start still has the original odd-sized doors. It still has the sweeping staircase that is wooden from top to bottom. It still has tall floor lamps to accommodate for the high ceilings and even taller windows. These original features that you spent time carefully looking after during renovations suddenly look like death traps the moment that you find out you are pregnant.

Having a baby is like lobbing a small, squishy pink hand grenade into your life. One minute you’re happy and comfortable with your newly renovated house and the next you are seeing danger at every hallway and disaster in every room. You don’t have to panic though. The whole baby-proofing thing is one of the biggest milestones for parents and the freak-out you are feeling about your house being a death trap is a common one! Generally, the advice is to get yourself down to the level of a baby and see from their point of view where the dangers are. The problem with that is there is every chance you’re going to get more than you bargained for, finding issues with the house you thought was perfect from structural issues to insulation issues. If you do find issues with the house during your hunt for dangers, you should look here for details on how you can fix it up again and make it right before you get down to the proper business of baby-proofing. The problem with the earlier advice we mentioned about getting down to the level of your toddler is that seeing things from the perspective of a small person can make you panic even further. Stairs look scary through the eyes of a toddler; they’re a mountain to be conquered, not a giant death trap that could cause hospital visits. Sockets in the house look like handy places to store toys and you see the corners of the cabinets as eye-pokers that can cause serious damage.

Parents are under a lot of pressure to ensure that their houses are bubble wrapped and ready for a smaller child to roam around in. Companies that specialise in baby safety equipment can easily make you feel like you are failing your children if you don’t buy their product immediately and install the best and latest safety gadgets for the health of your child. Parents who panic about the safety of their children can often feel like that fixer-upper that they spent all their money on is just not as safe as the padded room in the next town over. The trouble, is that children are going to explore, and they are going to get into mischief. You could sell your house and move into a bubble, but that’s not exactly conducive to happy family life and healthy thinking. Before there were child-proofing companies capitalising on the anxiety of new parents, there were baby playpens. Having an area in a room for children to play and installing gates on the doors of the rooms that you don’t want your children to get into are the best ways to manage your own worries about the safety of your home.

Children learn very quickly the cues for danger, and even babies who are as yet non-verbal can understand warning tones and being told no. As a parent, you will learn very quickly that while babies and children can understand the word ‘no’, and even understand warning tones and firm voices, they still choose the wrong thing to do. So, to help you to feel better about the danger that your children are going to fight to get into, we’ve got some specific ways you can child-proof that old house you love so much.

Paintwork

Any old house that retains original features such as the paintwork is at risk of containing lead. Everyone these days knows that lead is a big deal and while the older features that are painted are nice, they may not be very safe. You could have the paintwork in your home tested for lead if you believe that your baby could get too close to lead shavings or dust containing paint lead. You can even check for lead exposure in your baby with a finger prick test, which you can read about her. Considering any house before 1978 had lead in the paint used to decorate the home, you would be surprised at how many children are actually exposed to lead on a daily basis. Any exposed lead paint does need to be covered and patched over, so while you want to retain original features and paintings, you should put the safety of the children first.

Wiring

When you first bought your home, there’s every chance you kept the original wiring if it was in good condition. Obviously, you would have your wiring tested every few months to ensure that it is still working correctly, but even with vintage electronics plugged in, you need to think about the more modern wiring of your home. Babies head to wires and cords the way a kitten heads for catnip; they cannot help but explore and the chosen method of exploration is in the mouth. Any exposed wires should be neatly boxed away like this, and any dodgy wiring should be looked at by an electrician. Get these done first, and cords and wires don’t have to panic you every time the baby moves out of your eyeline.

Bleaches, Sprays and Poison – Oh My!

Old cabinets can often be difficult to secure with cupboard locks, so it’s essential that any bleach and cleaning products are moved out of low cabinets and put up high. Babies have a favourite game: open the door, pull everything out and start again. If you are careful about what you have within reach, then you won’t have any problems. You also may not want to add unsightly locks to a feature kitchen or bathroom, and by being smart about what you keep in the reach of children, you won’t have to.

Falling Furniture

Almost all new build furniture comes with brackets to secure it to the wall. However, older furniture doesn’t have this feature. Heavy cabinets in older houses are often easier to pull over by small children when the floor is on a slant or on a particularly wobbly area. Check out these earthquake-proof straps that you can use to anchor large pieces of furniture to the wall and consider the stability of your furniture when you move it around. Falling TV’s are absolutely not a joke, and while you can’t secure a television to the top of a unit, you can ensure that your child stays away from the area.

Windows

Low bay windows that are especially tall are beautiful features of old houses, but windows in general are not safe features for small children. Using window guards on the windows that your child can access is one way to ensure you don’t have to add locks to the inside of the window. While you are at it, anchor blind cords to the wall and keep the up and out of reach. There have been far too many deaths due to blind cords to be blasé about it.

Heaters

Older houses often have heat grates on the floor rather than radiators on the walls. These floor heaters can cause some serious burns if they are touched and while you’re putting radiator guards up and covering exposed pipes, you need to remember to get these floor grates covered, too. You can read here about covering these up and making sure small hands and knees are not branded by the old house that you love so much.

It’s important to understand that you cannot childproof a home completely. Renovating your house to reflect the best padded rooms and bubble-wrapped corners will only make you look crazy, and even then, you cannot bubble wrap the world outside your front door. Make as many changes as you like, but don’t forget that you still have to live in the house that you love so much. You were there first, and making adjustments for a baby can be done easily. Or you could ensure that you teach your children from a very young age what they can and cannot touch. Children are remarkable little creatures, despite also being hand grenades that blow up your life. If you are careful and you are vigilant, you can ensure that your home is perfect for the entire family, including the new baby.

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