According to a study carried out by the European Child Safety Alliance, every day in the EU it’s estimated that 14 children, between the ages of one and fourteen, will die from injury, 2,240 will be hospitalised and a further 28,000 will receive treatment in A&E. And out of these injuries, a significant number occur in the home. These alarming statistics may cause you to install every child-proofing gadget on the market in your home. But should you?
Common Sense and Tool Using
In many cultures around the world, such as the Maniq people of Thailand, young children have access to potentially dangerous tools, such as knives. Rather than locking these implements away and giving the child a toy replica, children are encouraged to observe, handle the real objects and learn. While this notion might have you throwing up your hands in horror, relatively few injuries occur, with the children developing keen common sense about safety. So if we remove any and all opportunity for young children to use actual tools or be around hazards full-stop, are we harming their potential to develop common sense and a healthy level of self-esteem?
While parents and carers shouldn’t encase their children in bubble wrap, there are common sense precautions to take around the home. Obviously fires should have guards, sockets should be covered, stairs should have a gate and glass ornaments, matches and medicines should be kept out of reach. But isn’t putting bump protectors on every corner and edge of your furniture going to the extreme? Children quickly learn about sharp corners and will avoid them. Children must be exposed to, and taught about hazards, while being in a safe environment. If they are never exposed to danger, how will they learn to avoid it?
The kitchen is one area that does require child-proofing and fortunately there are numerous safety products available, such as clickable and extendable oven and hob guards, as well as knob covers, so they can’t accidentally turn on the gas. Ideally, any poisonous household products should be kept on a high shelf out of the way but if that’s not possible, install child-proof locks. Unfortunately, some varieties can fall off or children can figure out how to open them all too quickly. One of the best locks is the BabyDan magnetic lock, which needs a magnetic key to open the kitchen cupboard doors or drawers. Many kitchen cabinet doors have metal handles that protrude, which could cause injury. If you’re able to renew your kitchen units, why not opt for a design that doesn’t need handles? And if you’re looking for something that is easy to keep clean and disinfected, a high-gloss finish is ideal. Porcelain or stone tile floors can cause some nasty bumps but you could cordon off an area and cover the tiles with yoga mats, where your child could safely play and see you.
Although child safety is of paramount importance, a sensible balance needs to be struck, as the over-protective parent/carer could end up stunting their child’s intuitiveness and confidence.