We have to be so careful raising babies and toddlers in our homes - so much of what seems safe to adults can pose potential hazards to children. A hazard isn't necessarily an accident waiting to happen, it just means that there we need to be more cautious than we might otherwise be. If hazards are managed properly then our little ones can remain perfectly safe. Here are a few questions of safety that you might ask yourself...
1. Should I use a Baby Walker? For many years it was advised not to bother with a baby walker. They looked nice, but caused so many accidents its wasn't worth the risk. There is now a standard required for baby walkers (BS EN 1273:2005), which has hopefully reduced the number of accidents. However, do use with care. Babies can still get around very quickly and could approach stairs or dangerous areas. It may give them more height and therefore allow them to reach higher things on tables or work surfaces in the kitchen. Some argue they help baby to walk: this is not necessarily true. Rolling, crawling, sitting, bouncing on you knee are far better ways of improving balance, and mobility for walking.
2. Is there a safe age to use bunk beds? Usually not before children six. This is because beds are designed with six year old as a minimum age. The spaces between bars and and around the mattress is tested on six year olds and are not suitable for under six's because they could get trapped. If you do use bunk beds, make sure windows are locked if they're next to a window and that there are no sharp corners (book shelves etc) below! Perhaps have a night light so they can climb down in the night if they need to.
3. When does a hot liquid get hot enough to cause a burn? Childrens' skin is thinner than an adults and will burn much more easily. Even hot tap water can burn. Certainly don't allow any child to turn on taps without your supervision. Kettle water WILL scald immediately. It's boiling at 100 degrees. A cup of tea WILL scald. Its about 70 degrees but still hot enough to scald. Once tea has been left to stand for 15 minutes, its still around 55 degrees. This WILL still be hot enough to scald in about 10 seconds.
4. Should we get rid of our pond? A toddler can drown in just 2 inches of water. If you have a pond and don't want to get rid of it, keep it covered or better still, drain it until your child is older. Turn it into a boggy garden area or a sand pit!
It's an exciting day when you bring your newborn baby home from hospital, hopefully you already have a bed ready for them?! Initially you will probably want them in your own room, and a 'Moses' basket is plenty big enough for your new bundle of joy. Moses baskets may be sold with or without a stand, and stand options include fixed or rocking. You don't require a stand; and rocking stands cost a little bit more than fixed ones, but it's good to be able to comfort your baby in their sleep with a gentle rocking.
As your baby grows out of a Moses basket, you have a choice between a cot and a cot bed. A cot is designed to be safe and to contain your child from falling out of bed during the night, and the sides are permanent and fixed. A cot bed offers the same safety as a cot, but is designed with removable sides, and often a headboard that can be reduced, so that it can convert into an undersized single bed. A cot will generally suit a child up to the age of 2 whereas a cot bed will suit a child until around the age of 5.
After a cot or cot bed you will want to buy a single bed for your children. Single beds come in two widths; standard width is 3 foot wide, but you can also buy narrower singles that are just 2'9", perhaps more appropriate for a very small room.
If you have two or more children then you might want to consider bunk beds. Although sleeping in a top bunk is not recommended until the age of 6, you can still buy detachable bunk beds sooner, where each bunk is a self contained single that is also designed to stack later. This arrangement saves you buying two singles and later buying a whole additional bunk bed.
Whatever their size, beds are an expensive purchase and you don't want to have to buy more than you need! Plan ahead and think how best to get the best use from your beds, and how to minimise the cost over the first few years of your children's lives!
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