Creating a nursery for your precious little one is certainly an exciting project. You get the chance to fill a room with colors, joy - and furniture. You would need a variety of furniture - from cribs and kids desk to kids bedroom sets and dressers - to create a fully functional nursery. But as useful as they are, furniture items are not without their potential safety concerns. A simple oversight could be an invitation for mishaps.
But worry not - it is not too hard to baby-proof your nursery. Just following a few simple guidelines and keeping an eye out for details would be enough to create a safe, joyful haven for your adorable baby. Let's take a look at the comprehensive list of baby furniture related safety concerns, and how to mitigate them.
Dangers Of Cribs
Cribs are perhaps the most fundamental piece of nursery furniture. Every kid needs a crib and spends a significant time of the day in it, so it is obvious that they have to be extra safe. This is why it is highly recommended to only buy cribs from genuine buyers with safety certifications.
A common practice among parents is buying a used kids couch. The logic is that the crib was used by another baby without any issues, so it must obviously be safe. However, this is a flawed logic. First, safety regulations keep updating few years, so what was considered ‘safe’ a few years ago might not be considered safe anymore. Second, as cribs continue to be used, they could become prone to wear-and-tear. Splinters could be a safety hazard, while the material might become weak and tend to break off. Hence, you should always go with a new crib.
Most cribs come with guardrails for safety, but they could be safety hazards on their own. A baby could get his head stuck between them, which is why the gaps between the rails should not be above the prescribed standard. There shouldn’t be any gaps in the crib where a kid might get his fingers stuck – including the gap between the mattress and the crib. Furthermore, make sure the crib is placed in a safe spot in the nursery and – if it has wheels – the brakes are always employed.
Dangers of Prams & Strollers
Prams and strollers are a great choice for parents who want to take their baby around the place. But the outside world is unsafe even for adults, so extra precaution has to be taken for your little ones.
Every pram should come with a 5-point safety harness. Whenever in motion, the harness should be safely tied around the child. When not in motion, the parking brakes in the strollers must be employed. Forgetting to use a harness when moving or braking when stationary could result in dangerous situations. Also, given the importance of these two components, regularly check the conditions of the brakes and the harness.
Many parents try to use strollers as a replacement for cribs, which is a mistake. Strollers are designed for a specific purpose and are not nearly safe enough to act as a full-time bed for a toddler. While most strollers come with an internal storage section, remember to not overload it as it could cause balancing issues and might lead to tipping over.
Dangers of Table and Chairs
Many parents decide that it is best to make the kid get acquainted with chairs and tables early in life. Most child experts have no issue with it either; after the age of 3 years, there is no reason why kids can’t use these pieces of furniture. However, toddler table and chairs need to cater to the specific needs of the toddler; when this doesn’t happen, mishaps occur.
The most common cause of injury involving a toddler chair is its height. Many parents tend to buy a higher chair, considering the growth of the child and the potential long-term use of the furniture. However, a high chair is an invitation to unwanted injuries – including falling from it. To avoid this, parents must either buy chairs suited for the current height of their child or buy adjustable-height chairs.
Another common safety issue is the height mismatch between tables and chairs. While it cannot usually cause any injury, it might cause neck issues in the long run. An adjustable height table and chair set is even more useful in such scenarios. If you go with a rocking chair nursery, pick one that’s not too high or too low.
Dangers of Changing Station
While dressers or changing stations are not necessary furniture, they can be a great addition to the nursery. Particularly when you consider just how often you would need to change the diapers of your toddler in the first few years. But a changing table can also be dangerous – considering it involves a squirming baby on a tabletop. Falling off the top of the station is a very common safety hazard.
The most important safety mechanism in a diaper changing station is protection against rolling off the edge. This is why they come with a depression at the center, where a child can snugly fit. Boundaries on the edges offer additional protection. Many baby changing table come with safety harnesses; while it can useful, it is generally advisable to avoid them and rely on your instincts instead.
As a parent, you must keep one hand on the child at all times while you change their diapers. Everything you might need – fresh diapers, disposal bins, towels, powders, etc. – should be within arm’s reach.
General Furniture Safety Guidelines
- Tip-overs are one of the biggest safety hazards in a nursery. A baby is going to do baby things – crawl around, roll around, bump into things. But it is a huge issue if they bump into something, and something tips over them. As you can imagine, depending on the size of the object, the damage could range from a soft bump to a significant head injury
- To avoid tip-overs, make sure all the furniture is tightly held in place with metal anchors. They should not be wobbly and kept on a solid, flat surface. Objects prone to falling over – like remotes, plastic toys, keys, etc. – should not kept on the top.
- The placement of the furniture is very important. The heavier furniture, like dressers and changing stations, should be kept beside the walls where they have additional support. The crib should be kept somewhere where it has decent empty space around it. The crib should also be kept away from curtains, direct sunlight, and electrical appliances.
- Paint is a major safety hazard. The most common type of paint used is volatile, i.e., it can easily release fumes. If the paint is toxic, those fumes can be really harmful – particularly for children. Hence, always ensure that every furniture in the nursery uses non-volatile, non-toxic, eco-friendly paints.
Also, pay attention to the material used in the furniture. Generally, furniture made entirely or mostly with plastic should be avoided. Not only is plastic unsafe for health, but its low weight can result in unstable structures. While wood is recommended, you should ensure that it is not the kind that could easily splinter or be damaged by termites over the years.
Most of the nursery furniture is usually the self-assembled kind. As such, it is all the more important tobe extra cautious while assembling them. Read the guide properly and follow every instruction. Failure to follow instructions can result in unsafe furniture – which, in turn, can become a safety hazard.
For a parent, there is absolutely nothing more important than the safety of their child. We cannot do everything, but we can certainly try to do everything in our power.
Precaution is always better than the cure. By being vigilant from the start, you could divert a lot of potential accidents. A little bit of effort and precaution ensures furniture safety for toddlers and that your precious little baby is safe, sound, and happy. As a parent, nothing could be worth more than it.