Your home is one of the most likely places where accidents can happen. Did you know that over 3 million children worldwide experience an unintentional household injury every year? Many home designs only consider the children’s rooms when incorporating child friendly design, but the nature of children being so erratic means they are in an out of all rooms, scattering toys around the home, and investigating through cupboards and wardrobes. For this reason, and for the convenience of parents, it’s important to make a home as child-friendly as possible using a few design tips and tricks. Here we look at three key topics: safety, functionality and aesthetics.
Injuries from falls are the most common household injury, worldwide, with over 4,200 children involved in falls from the stairs. If your home has stairs, consider the design of your landing. Is there sufficient space to add a baby gate, remembering that gates at the tops and bottom of stairs need to be properly fixed to the wall. If you’ve got a confident climber (have you ever seen the video of the toddler scaling the double height baby gate!!??) then consider teaching your child how to safely descend the stairs.
Also consider your window heights and fittings – 4,000 children under the age of 15 are injured each year due to falling from windows. Make sure your windows are fitted with window stops or window guards, but can also be quickly removed in case of emergencies. Also consider your floor treatments and rugs, to make sure they’re not trip hazards for clumsy critters.
We all know children love to explore through drawers, pulling out every item of clothing, taking all the books off the shelf or reaching up high for that one toy just out of reach. Keep this in mind when planning the design and positioning furniture; make sure any heavy furniture (bookshelves or chests of drawers) are secured to the wall, to avoid children pulling them onto themselves.
Our inquisitive little people also love rummaging through cupboards where they see Mum or Dad going to each day, particularly bathroom and kitchen cupboards. It’s a frightening statistic that 25,000 children under 5 years old present to the Hospital A&E each year with poisoning. It’s a good idea to make sure your household chemicals and medicines are stored in kitchen cupboards (the busiest room of the house) at least 1.5m above floor level. Consider this in your home design – have you made provisions for a suitable space in the kitchen, or do you have a lockable cupboard?
Little children also love running around the home and they’re not always looking where they’re going. Consider sharp corners, especially for marble kitchen benchtops – rounded edges look just as good as a sharp corner edge and would significantly reduce an injury to a child.
We all want our new homes to look tidy and beautiful, and part of this is our furniture choices. However most pieces are designed for adults, without considering the needs or safety of children. Choose furniture with soft or rounded edges and avoid glass table tops where possible. Also consider the functionality of your furniture – can it double up as a storage space for toys so you can quickly tidy up without tripping on a toy or stepping on a piece of Lego (we all know how much that hurts in the middle of a sleep-deprived night!) Look for the coffee tables with drawers, shelving units with doors or ottomans with a flip open top.
Children are messy and curious little creatures, and there’s no better place to rub the vegemite smeared hands, than on Mum and Dad’s nice new couch! Choose child-friendly fabrics for your furniture (linen and leather can repel stains and are easy to clean) and rugs (opt for natural fibres or Persian rugs). Soft rubber play mats are also a great option, providing safe and soft play spaces that are easy to clean and can be moved to other parts of the home.
If your floor plan allows for it, you could accommodate a play room for the kids, which could become a media room when they grow older – you can read more about future proofing ideas in a previous blog here.
And finally, encourage outside play – the perfect place for kids to explore and use their imagination, get dirty and have a fabulous time.
If you’re looking to build a new custom home on the Sunshine Coast, and need to consider a child-friendly design, Beachside Construction can help. Give Tonya a call on 0409 591 005 or contact us via the website.