A Safe Home for Baby

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Bringing your baby home from the hospital is often a strange yet precious time for parents.  We may have prepared well for it, ensuring we have enough clothing, equipment, and accessories, but how often do we view our home in a different light and begin to look for potential risks to our baby’s health and wellbeing? Every year in the UK more than one million children under the age of five are taken to hospital after an accident at home.

Drowning and suffocation are the main causes of fatal accidents for children under the age of four, while falls are responsible for most non-fatal accidents.

Risks in Your Home

Before your baby arrives there are lots of things you can do to ensure your home is safe, both in the early days and for later when they start to move about. Most accidents and injuries can be avoided by ensuring you never leave your baby alone in an unsafe place, even for a very short time.

Preventing Accidents and Injuries

Sometimes small easy ways of adapting your current routines or lifestyle can make a huge improvement to the safety of your home.

To keep your baby safe:

Never leave your baby alone with a family pet, however well they seem to get on.

Be prepared for unexpected emergencies and have a plan of action if there’s a fire. How would you escape safely?

Have important phone numbers and contacts where you can easily find them.

Identify items that could cause suffocation or choking, such as nappy sacks and small items/objects, and put them out of baby’s reach.

Safety Around The House

Sometimes we are unaware of possible safety risks to ourselves and our baby until we stop and look around. We usually continue with our everyday lives without a second thought. Before baby arrives take an opportunity to assess possible dangers.

  • Clear the stairs of any clutter to avoid trips while carrying your baby.
  • Ensure there is nothing in reach for your baby to swallow. 
  • Use non-slip mats under rugs or unfitted carpets. 
  • Consider buying a first-aid kit and keep it fully stocked. 

Take care when visiting other people as they may not have made their home baby-safe; you may need to be extra focussed and attentive during your visit.  If you are concerned or unsure about making any safety changes, your midwife or health visitor can give you advice and guidance.

Hot Liquids

The spillage of hot liquids causes the most scalding injuries in babies and can often be easily avoided.

  • Always put hot drinks down before you or anyone else picks up your baby.
  • Ensure hot drinks are out of reach. 
  • Make sure your baby is safely away from hot water while making up a formula feed.

Safety at Bathtime

To keep your baby safe at bath time ensure you have everything you need before you start so there is no reason to leave them unattended.

  • Always put cold water in the bath before the hot water.
  • Test the temperature of the water before you place your baby in. You can test with your elbow or with a baby bath thermometer.
  • Never leave baby alone in the bath. A baby can drown in just a centimetre of water.

Fire Safety

Taking steps to prevent fire in your home is extremely important to protect youand your baby from harm. Basic fire safety needn’t be complicated or expensive and if you live in rented accommodation your landlord is responsible for ensuring fire safety measures are in place and standards maintained.

  • Fit fireguards on all fires including log burners and open fires, attaching them firmly to the wall.
  • Make sure anything that uses gas or oil to operate is checked regularly by a Gas Safe engineer.
  • Plan an escape route for you and your family and ensure that everyone knows how to leave the house safely and quickly.
  • Don’t smoke indoors.

Fit smoke alarms on each floor of your home and test the alarms weekly by pressing the test button.

Carbon Monoxide

Fit a carbon monoxide detector if you have a gas, oil, or solid fuel appliance in your home. Carbon monoxide is an invisible, poisonous gas that has no taste or smell, and it can kill quickly. It can be present in homes due to faulty appliances or flues that haven’t been fitted, ventilated properly or regularly checked and looked after.

Sources of indoor air pollution include

Air Pollution

Many people are aware of air pollution but are unsure how it affects them and their baby. We might think of transport and traffic as a major cause of air pollution and do not consider indoor pollution as something that can seriously affect the health and wellbeing of our family. 

Sources of indoor air pollution include

Damp or mould

Candle smoke and incense

Room sprays, diffusers, gels

Cleaning and decorating products

Gas appliances when cooking

How to Minimise Indoor Air Pollution.

If you live in accommodation with damp or mould this is a serious risk to the health of you and your family. Damp and mould affect the lungs but can also affect the eyes and skin. It can impact on other health problems such as asthma. If your accommodation is rented your landlord must act to protect your health. There is a legal duty for your landlord to make your house or flat safe to live in. 

What tenants should know about damp and mould in rented accommodation

Understand your rights if you are living with damp or mould in rented accommodation.

You can get free legal advice if you are a tenant with housing problems.

Things You Can do Yourself

  • Consider switching on your cooker vent hood if you have one when cooking with a gas cooker. Think about air circulation indoors and consider opening the window to allow ventilation. 
  • If you can, use eco-friendly/low chemical cleaning products.
  • Removing air fresheners, fragrances and scented candles will improve your indoor air quality overall and will also make your living space safer for your baby, family and even your pets. 
  • Burning soy, beeswax or other non-paraffin candles in a moderate way – along with proper ventilation is generally safe.

Find advice on reducing damp and mould in your home.

Temperature at Home

When you bring your new baby home it is important to keep your home warm to stay well. You should try to heat the room that you and your baby will regularly spend time in to 18 degrees. Heating your home can prove to be financially challenging for some families and there is support available. Ask your midwife or health visitor about applying for heating grants. 

Help with energy bills and the cost of living – Shelter England

While your baby is sleeping it is important to make sure they are not too hot or too cold. Check their temperature by feeling their stomach or the back of the neck rather than their hands or feet as they’ll often feel cold regardless of their core temperature. Sleep safety guidelines should always be followed to help prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) sometimes known as cot death, a condition where babies die suddenly and unexpectedly in their sleep. Sometimes an underlying health condition is identified but usually, there is no obvious reason.

SIDS is at Increased Risk of Happening if You:

  • sleep with your baby in an armchair or on the sofa.
  • share a bed with your baby and you or your partner smoke.
  • share a bed with your baby and you or your partner have been drinking alcohol or have been taking drugs.
  • smoke or smoked when you were pregnant or lived with someone who did.

SIDS is at increased risk of happening if your baby:

  • is lying on their tummy or side
  • gets too warm
  • sleeps on a soft mattress
  • sleeps in another room during the day or night where you can’t see them
  • sleeps sitting up or not completely flat, such as in a car seat, as their head can roll forwards and affect how they’re breathing
  • was born before 37 weeks and/or born weighing less than 2.5 kg

Smoking and Baby

Evidence shows that smoking while pregnant (1-9 cigarettes a day) means you are more than four times as likely to have a baby die of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) than someone who didn’t smoke at all during pregnancy. If you did smoke throughout your pregnancy, you should try not to expose your baby to smoke after they have been born, which will lower the risk of SIDS.

How to Protect and Keep Your Baby Smoke Free

  • During pregnancy and after birth both you and your partner should try to stop smoking.
  • Keep your baby out of smoky places at all times. Don’t let people smoke near your baby and keep your home, car, and other places your baby spends time, smoke free.
  • You should not share a bed with your baby if you or your partner smokes as these increases greatly the chance of SIDS even if you do not smoke in the bedroom.

Facts and advice from the Lullaby Trust on smoking and risks to baby

Quitting smoking is difficult and requires discipline and willpower but the outcome is worth the challenge both for your health and the health of your baby. Talk to your midwife or health visitor for guidance and support to quit. For further help and advice to stop smoking, try the NHS Smoking Helpline on 0800 0224 332 or visit the NHS website


Becoming a parent often puts a strain on relationships, regardless of what they were like before. Lots of things can contribute to this problem. You are tired and have so much less time to spend with friends, family, or your partner than you did before your baby arrived. This stage doesn’t last forever and over time you will notice that your baby will take up less of your physical and emotional energy. 

What is Domestic Abuse? and How to Get Help

Domestic abuse, sometimes called domestic violence includes physical, emotional, financial and sexual abuse in couple relationships or can occur between family members. Often during pregnancy domestic abuse against women occurs for the first time in the relationship, or existing abuse may worsen during pregnancy or after birth.

Nobody should have to deal with domestic abuse. It puts your physical and mental health at risk and endangers the wellbeing of your baby.

There are lots of ways you can get help and support:

Living in a home where domestic abuse is apparent can have a very serious effect on children. Social workers are trained to help you safely protect your child. If you wish, they can help you take steps to stop the abuse or find refuge.

Read more advice about recognising the signs of domestic violence and abuse and where to get help

Local organisations offering help and guidance:

Next Chapter  

A charity based in Essex that provides free and confidential services to support people who are currently experiencing, or have previously experienced2, domestic abuse. Next Chapter | A future without domestic abuse (thenextchapter.org.uk) 

Call us for help: 0330 333 7 444 or 01206 50058

Essex Compass 

A partnership of domestic abuse services providing a response in Essex.

How can we help? – Essex Compass 

Essex Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0330 333 7 444 available from 8am-8pm weekdays and 8am-1pm weekends.


A  charity based in Suffolk that supports women, young people and children who are affected by domestic abuse. Lighthouse | From a brighter future, free from domestic abuse (lighthousewa.org.uk)

Suffolk Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0800 977 5690 (open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week) 

Survivors in Transition: SiT supports all genders who have experienced sexual abuse in childhood, through a range of trauma-informed, psycho-educational activities.

 Survivors In Transition | Support for survivors of childhood sexual abuse   

Phone: 01473 232499 or 07765 052282 or email [email protected]

Bury St Edmunds Women’s Aid Centre (the Refuge) 

Established in 1974 to provide safety and support for women and children experiencing domestic abuse.

Bury St Edmunds Women’s Aid Centre (burystedmundswomensaid.org.uk)

Helpline 0330 551 9495 e-mail: [email protected]

P.H.O.E.B.E (Promotion of Health, Opportunity, Equality, Benevolence and Empowerment) helps black and ethnic minority women and children in Suffolk  receive domestic abuse support and counselling services. 

Home – Phoebe Centre UK 

email us directly  [email protected] or call 01473 760966

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