In 2018, families made up 16% of the bookings on the Sykes website, showing how important they are as potential holiday cottage customers.
If you’d like to appeal to families and market your property as child-friendly, there are certain steps you’ll have to take, from providing equipment such as cots and highchairs to childproofing your holiday home.
Getting the babyproofing element of your holiday cottage right will not only be good for your marketing, it will help the families who stay at your property to relax, knowing that hazards in the house have been minimised. And if they enjoy the stay, they are likely to come again and recommend your property to friends and family with children too.
To help you make a start with childproofing, here we explain what you’ll need to think about…
Childproofing: Where to start?
Until you have an active baby, toddler or child in your house, you won’t necessarily see the potential hazards in your holiday home. A good way to spot dangers is to crouch down at the level of a child and to take a look around your rooms.
For example, is there a table in the middle of the room at head height that a toddler may run into? Do you have tempting ornaments or a fireside toolset that a baby might grab? And could a child pull a bookshelf over by climbing on it, or clamber on to a windowsill using the armchair next to it? If so, you’ll need to make some changes.
Childproofing in the Kitchen
From hot kettles and knives to poisonous cleaning products, the kitchen can be a potentially dangerous room for children. But a few small steps can minimise the hazards. Essentials include:
- Put baby-proof catches on your cupboards to prevent children from pulling out cleaning products or smashing crockery. If you don’t want to put these on all cupboards, consider having a lockable cupboard or two with anything that isn’t child-friendly inside – and leave the keys out of reach, not in the doors.
- Catches or not, put any potentially dangerous items in cupboards or drawers that are out of reach from small hands – for example, knives, plastic bags, clingfilm, glasses and graters.
- If you provide a highchair, make sure it is sturdy enough for a wriggly toddler. And buy one with safety straps to prevent any escapees.
- Think about the wires in your kitchen and make sure the cord for the kettle isn’t within reach to prevent any children pulling boiling water over themselves.
- Buy a bin with a secure lid to prevent children rifling through it.
Childproofing in the Bathroom
As with the kitchen, there can be a lot of potential hazards in the bathroom. Here are some tips to minimise these:
- Attach a catch on the outside of the door so parents can prevent young children going in without them knowing.
- Provide a non-slip mat to prevent slips at bath-time as well as a bath mat to prevent the floor becoming too slippery.
- Don’t put any electrical appliances in the bathroom.
- If you leave anything personal in the bathroom that could potentially be dangerous – for example nail scissors, medicine and vitamins – consider putting them in a locked cabinet so children can’t get to them.
- As in the kitchen, buy a bin with a lid that’s hard for children to open to prevent any hazards being discovered inside.
Childproofing in the Living Room
The living room is the place families will go to relax so help them to feel calm by eliminating dangers. Some areas to think about include:
- Make sure any cords for electrical items, such as freestanding lamps and TVs, are out of reach.
- Secure your TV so children can’t pull it down on top of themselves. If your TV is on a low piece of furniture, push it well back to keep it out of children’s reach.
- Consider whether any of your furniture could topple if pulled or climbed on – for example, bookshelves and lamps. If so, secure it to a wall.
- If you have a fireplace, move the fire tools, such as pokers, out of reach and use a fireguard. Look at the corners of your hearth too and, if they are sharp, consider putting corner guards on to prevent bumps.
- Put catches on windows to stop children easily opening them. And look at how easy it would be for a child to climb on to a windowsill. If there’s an obvious route on to it – for example by climbing on to a chair or table – rearrange your furniture.
Child Safety and Blinds
In 2014 the UK Government and the EU introduced stringent standards on the manufacture, sales and installations of blinds, due to the danger that they posed to young children.
Three regulations were introduced in 2014:
- BS EN 13120:2009+A1:2014
- BS EN 16433:2014
- BS EN 16434:2014
When buying blinds for your holiday home the British Blind and Shutter Association (BBSA) suggests that you install window blinds that are safe by design – meaning that they don’t use chains or cords, or uses hidden or tensioned cords and chains.
The BBSA urges holiday let owners that already have blinds installed in their properties to consider making them safer by adding retrofit safety devices.
For more information on the regulations and an easy to follow guide on blind requirements, take a look at Make It Safe’s Guide to Window Blind Standards in Holiday Homes.
Childproofing Your Garden
Don’t forget to consider making your garden a safe place for families too. To make it family-friendly, think about:
- Enclosing it – are there any obvious ways a child could easily escape on to a road or into another garden? If so, fence the garden off or install a secure gate.
- Any water – if you have a pond or a swimming pool, fence it off so children can’t get to it easily and fall in.
- Your plants – are any of the plants in your garden poisonous or thorny? If so, remove them.
- Gardening tools – keep your tools and hosepipe locked away to prevent children injuring themselves on anything left in the garden.
- Gravel – if you have a gravel path, could younger children put it in their mouths and choke on it? If so, consider changing this to another material.
- Garden furniture – is this sturdy and safe? Think about children climbing on it or potentially hurting themselves on any sharp edges.
Extra Childproofing Tips
Once you’ve tackled the main rooms in your holiday home, think about the rest of your house. Pay particular attention to:
- Doors – could little fingers get trapped in a heavy door or hinges? If so, invest in doorstops or hinge guards – or both.
- Beds – do you have suitable beds for children and babies? Cots or travel cots are best for babies while younger children may be safer in lower beds or beds with bed guards.
- Stairs – installing stair gates could prevent falls and help parents feel more at ease while their young children are playing.
- Ornaments – eliminate any potential choking hazards by removing any small ornaments from your holiday cottage.
- A first aid kit – leave a first aid kit in a prominent place to help if any accidents do happen.
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