Creating a Safe Play Area for Your Baby
Designing a play area for a baby requires imagination. Safety, however, should remain the foremost concern. Statistics show that more children die from accidents at home than from ALL kinds of childhood diseases put together.
To keep a baby happy we have to start thinking like one. Use common sense to dictate the guidelines for your baby's play area.
- You must be able to supervise your baby in their play area from other areas of the house.
- Ideally, the play area should be away from a staircase. However, if it has to be near one, there should be a gate at the top and bottom of the stairs to prevent any mishaps. If there is a banister within the confines of the play area, you can be sure that your little monkey will try and climb that too. For this purpose, you can buy and install a transparent, durable, and shatterproof plastic shield that is affixed to banisters.
- Play areas should be sunny and bright. You should utilize natural sunlight wherever possible. Any windows should be out of the reach of baby, and cords on blinds should not be dangling to prevent any possibilities of accidental strangulation.
- Curious fingers poking electric outlets are a common occurrence. Ideally, these too should be out of reach of the baby, but if any are visible, they should be covered by socket covers.
- In an attempt to show off their Herculean powers, babies could tip pieces of furniture while moving them around. This could cause serious injury; therefore, most furniture items should be at arm's length from your baby's play area.
- Drooling, picking their noses, and putting foreign objects plucked from the ground into their mouth are just some of a baby's not-so-delightful habits which could be possible sources of infection. To avoid resultant tummy upsets, allergies, and infections, play areas need to be clean and hygienic. You can wipe surfaces and toys in the play area with disinfectants and otherwise keep the place regularly dusted, vacuumed, and mopped.
- A busy child is a happy child – the most popular activity by far is the activity mat. The appendages and easy-to-press buttons with music and flashing lights keep children entertained. You can even devise your own special play mat – one that is safe and allows the baby to more than just wiggle his little arms and legs.
- Your growing baby is akin to a band of skittles – toppling every second. When they are mostly crawling or at best learning to walk, the play area should have a smooth and easy surface to walk on. Interlocking foam tiles are a clean and inexpensive way of creating a safe floor. Rubber mulch, an environment-friendly material, is coming up as the next hot favorite for parents.
- Choose your child's toys wisely – don't disregard age limits on toys, don't buy toys with small parts that your child could choke on, and don't buy toys with moving parts that could be dislodged and hence become choking hazards. Most especially, don't buy toys with magnets – in 2007 the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) identified magnets as the number one hidden home hazard because, if swallowed, they can cause damage to a baby's intestines.
The International Association for Child Safety reports that 2 million children under the age of 5 are seen in emergency rooms as a result of injuries at home. Alarming as these statistics are, parents are only humans, and babies are hard to confine. Amidst the fun of creating the perfect play area, neglect should not lead to a more serious regret.