BRINGING a newborn home means parents are entering the realm of uncertainty and fear with more than a few changes to be expected.
Experts advise parents to baby-proof well in advance of their children starting to crawl and walk. Pregnancy, baby and women's health expert Dona'h Rosser said it was important that children be free to explore their home safely.
"Whether you have a baby, toddler or school-age child, your home should be your little one's safe haven, where they can explore safely," Rosser said.
"After all, touching, holding, climbing and exploring are the activities that develop your child's body and mind," she said.
Chas Everitt International property group managing director Berry Everitt said the best time to baby-proof the home is while parents are still decorating the nursery, choosing names and shopping for baby clothes and toys. Time spent with baby leaves little time for safety procedures after baby arrives home.
"Quite simply, this means parents need to view their familiar surroundings in a new light and do more to anticipate and combat any possible dangers to their babies and small children.
"And it's never too early to start: Even tiny babies wriggle and move and push against things with their feet, and things only get more hazardous for them when they start crawling and walking."
According to the Medical Research Council over 325 unsupervised children drown annually. About 230 children die because of burn related injuries because of an adult's neglect. About 6500 children die in South Africa due to injury.
Rosser said parents should check their child-proofing efforts. "It's a good idea to get down on your hands and knees in every room of your home to see things from your child's perspective. Be aware of your child's surroundings and what might be potentially dangerous."
Everitt and Rosser listed a few essential precautions:
Place gates on all windows above the ground floor in your children's rooms and use gates to block stairways from infants and toddlers;
Install childproof latches on all floor-level cupboards, especially where poisonous substances are stored;
Cover all unused electric sockets with safety plugs;
Secure bookshelves or furniture that could topple over if a child pulls on them;
Remove breakable items that are low enough to be reached;
Remove or roll up any cords dangling from kettles and irons;
Use safety glass in all sliding and shower doors, and mark these doors with bright stickers or tape at child level;
Install door holders, which prevent children from getting their fingers crushed;
Install window locks or guards on all windows above ground floor, as well as additional balcony railings if necessary;
Make sure your pool is securely fenced and covered with a safety net. Teach children to swim as early as possible and always watch children when they are swimming;
Do not allow infants and small children to play with toys that are small enough to fit through a standard toilet paper roll.