Keeping our children safe is usually the first priority in our lives. How often do we think about the length of a window blind’s cord, or about how heavy a table lamp may be? Yet these two examples can seriously harm a child (choking, and heavy object falling). This article will point out other possible hazards to your child in your home and explain ways to avoid them.

For newborns (0 to 6 months): Keep one hand on baby during diaper changes to avoid him or her rolling off the bed or change table. Keep supplies within reach. Make sure cribs and playpens are secure. Do not use dangerous baby-walkers on wheels. Use safety straps in baby’s high chair at all times. Put your child to sleep on his or her back and never place a pillow, comforter or stuffed toy in with the baby as that could cause suffocation. When your baby begins to eat solid foods, make the pieces as small as possible to avoid choking (See To Prevent Choking; below)

For older babies (6 to 12 months): Always install safety gates at both die top and the bottom of the stairs, and never use a pressure gate at the top because a child can push on it and fall. Always make sure gates are firmly attached to walls and banisters. Do not use a baby walker on wheels as a child could tip over, fall and get a serious head injury. It’s better to use a motionless activity centre instead. When using a high chair never let your child stand up in it, or crawl up the side. Always use the safety straps to keep your child securely in the chair. Always make sure there is no furniture near windows or near balcony ledges, as small children can use them to climb up and fall. Always use window guards or fix the windows so that they can’t open more than four inches. Window screens will not prevent a child from falling. Keep large toys and stuffed animals out of playpens as children can step on them to climb out. Always use the safety straps attached to shopping carts if you place your child in the seat.

To prevent choking (all ages): Keep small objects away from your children, such as buttons, keys, coins, batteries, balloons, pins, earrings, etc. Teach your older children to do this as well. Never leave your baby alone when he or she is wearing a bib. Check toys and children’s equipment for any small pieces that may break off. Avoid ties and ribbons on baby’s clothes or toys. At mealtime, make sure to give only very small pieces of food. Blending, mashing, and chopping up the food is a good idea. Check baby pacifiers regularly. If it has begun to crack or has become sticky, throw it away. Make sure the rubber part is firmly attached to the plastic, if it comes loose it may come off and make your baby choke. Never attach strings or ribbons to a pacifier. Never give a child aged less than four years food such as nuts, popcorn, candy or gum. Teach your child to always sit still while eating, and never allow them to run or play if they have food in their mouths.

When a toy is labeled Not Suitable for Children

under 3, that means that it has small parts that may cause choking. Even if you think your child is old enough, do not give it to her or him until the age of 3. Cords from curtains or window blinds can choke a child, either trim them or cut them off completely. Always make sure that the cords from electrical appliances, such as hair dryers, toasters, fans and kettles, don’t hang off the edges of tables and countertops as kids could either pull on them or get tangled and choke.

To prevent drowning (and other tips for the bathroom): Always stay with your child when he or she is in the bathtub. It only takes a few seconds for a child to slip under the water when not being watched. Always use a small baby bathtub for infants and babies under one year of age, and not the full-sized one, as it is better for avoiding the child slipping under the water. Never use an infant tub seat, as drowning is possible if it tips over. For toddlers, always use a rubber bathtub mat to prevent slipping and falling.

Always test the temperature of the bathwater before placing your child in it. It should be warm to the touch, and never hot. When preparing a bath for your child, always run the cold water first; then add hot until the bath is warm enough (never hot). Run the cold water again for a few seconds to cool off the faucet. Always test the water with your hand first; the perfect temperature for little kids is actually cooler than the temperature that you would like for yourself. Never let your children play with the faucets, especially the one for hot. Never leave a child alone in a bathtub. Teach these safety tips to anyone whom you’d trust to give your child a bath (such as a babysitter or a relative).

If you have a swimming pool, or if your children may have access to one, make sure there is a protective fence secured around it. If it is an open space like a lake or a pond, make sure they never swim without proper supervision. Life jackets, waders and other protective gear are very important for children of all ages. Make sure other items such as a first aid kit, life saver ring, ropes and flotation devices are all close by. Teach your child to swim as soon as he or she is old enough. Make sure that the adult supervising the children is trained in first aid and CPR. (For information on where to go for First Aid courses, consult your local fire department, CLSC or band office for times and locations of courses offered. If courses are not being offered, ask for one).