Build a safer home for your child

To say that life changes after a baby would be a gross understatement. Changing nappies, washing feeding bottles and appeasing a six-month-old can be quite tough. But like most other parents, while I fuss over my little one, I tend to forget how seemingly harmless items inside and outside my home can be dangerous for her.

It was such lack of awareness amongst parents that prompted Shalini and Sachin Agarwal to start Safe Baby, India’s first child safety company in April 2011. They try to minimise chances of accidents and injuries to children by conducting audits of residences, play schools and day care centres, installing safety equipments and organising workshops for parents, grandparents and nannies.

Shalini Agarwal, co-founder of Safe Baby, conducts an audit of a house to ensure how safe is it for a baby and (below) shows how to give Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) to a child in case of an emergency. Pics/ Sameer Abedi   

When Shalini visited my house this week, she gave me a wide smile, “Your home is a great place for kids since it has much-needed floor space.” Then she proceeded to give me some handy tips — how a centre table should never be covered with a cloth as a hot drink or food kept on it can easily spill on the child once he/she pulls the cover; or a furniture piece with pointed edges should be shielded with blunt covers.

Later, she conducted an audit of each room, opening cabinets and cupboards, and taking pictures of things that were unsafe. She suggested that we tie up the TV wire and hide it behind the set, unplug all electric appliances when not in use, keep medicines in cupboards with cabinet locks and hide cleaning agents and plastic bags away from the reach of my child as she can easily choke on them. She also said the distance between the bed and wall must be minimal. 

Shalini recommended that the latches of bathroom doors must be fitted on top so that children don’t open them accidentally. “Kids can easily fall into Indian-style toilets and choke within seconds,” she warned.

She installed baby-proof equipment too, such as a plastic plug for three pin holes and cabinet adhesive locks to secure cupboards. Later, she demonstrated how I could give Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) to my daughter in an emergency.

Shalini and her husband learnt about these tips and exercises after conducting extensive research and interviewing doctors. “In India, the highest instances of accidents related to children are due to poisoning after consumption of cleaning agents or swallowing coins. Our research revealed that if basic precautions are taken, children could be safer.”

In the long run, the Agarwals plan to extend their services across India and babyproof playgrounds, restaurants and malls. “We must give a safe and secure environment to kids. After all, play is the work of childhood,” concludes Shalini.

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