Along with the usual baby stuff like a cot, nappies, tiny little clothes, when I was pregnant with my son I bought a pack of safety equipment, a kit for making the glass in our French doors safe, extra drawer catches, an oven guard, and three different types of door gates.
How much of this did I use in the end? Actually surprisingly little.
An important lesson
If you read all the websites, books, and other literature out there, you'll go nuts trying to accident proof your home. Not long after my son was born I was given some brilliant advice by Lisa, the mum of two very energetic boys. "It is more important to spend some time teaching them not to do things, rather than making it so they never have the opportunity. They need to learn to stay away from the stereo, from hot irons and cookers, and from plug sockets, so when you go to houses where they don't have these protected they'll still be safe. And you won't be spending your entire visit grabbing things out of the hands."
So, she did things like putting all the cleaning products in a cupboard high up out of harms way, but still making the sink under the cupboard out of bounds. Any time that the boys were found trying to open it or in there, they went on a time out. That way she was sure that her inquisitive 18 month old wouldn't toddle off exploring in the wrong places as soon as her back was turned at someone else's house.
Every situation is different
One problem that articles about safety in the home have is that they can't take into account all the different sorts of home setup. I had no need for either a hob guard or an oven guard, because my kitchen is a separate room off our lounge. I could just put a gate across the door, while I was cooking. If, like PlayPennies mum Ellie, you have a huge open plan kitchen and living room, with a large farmhouse sized dining table in the middle of it all, this isn't an option.
Do I really need that?
The government no longer sees socket covers as a necessary safety item. Here's what it says on the Direct Gov website: "It is very difficult for a child to get an electric shock by playing with a socket, so you shouldn't need to use socket covers. However, in some instances they may stop young children plugging in heaters or other appliances that could cause burns or start a fire. You should not rely on socket covers as they are not regulated for safety. It's much better to make sure appliances are safely put away."
This is from their Fire Safety advice webpage, and you can find more information on how to help keep your children safe from fire HERE.
As to whether or not you need a particular product, I think the key is to ask yourself whether it is to keep your child from harm or for your convenience. If it is to keep your child from harm the next question to ask yourself is, what is your alternative? Such as putting cleaning items in a high, unreachable cupboard, rather than buying and fitting locks. I also moved our plates and cups up out of reach of little fingers.
Ditto radiator guards - can you use furniture to keep little ones away from the hot surfaces instead? And the same approach can be used to sharp or hard surfaces like the hearth around a fireplace. Will suitably placed cushions (if it isn't winter) do instead of buying and fitting foam edging? Do you need an inflatable tap protector in the bath when you won't be leaving your baby or toddler in there at more than your arms length anyway?
Baby monitors aren't safety devices, and shouldn't be thought of as such. They're there to help you hear if the baby is crying when you're out of sound range. If your house isn't that big, then you might want to consider whether you really need to buy one.
Stair gates for the stairs are usually necessary, as mentioned. Also, at least one door stopper is good. These are rubberised, U-shaped devices you can push onto the side of the door, so when it is slammed it just bounces against the door jamb, rather than the door hitting it (and possibly little fingers). My son did quickly discover that this was quite a fun game though.
Film for any glass that isn't already safety glass, so that there aren't any long shards of sharp glass if the window or door is broken. But really, you don't need this if you already have safety glass and any recently fitted door will have safety glass by law.
Bath mats. The only time I didn't put one in, my son - who never stood up in the bath before - stood up and promptly slipped forward splitting his lip on the side of the bath. However, I don't think he would have done himself any greater injury than that as I never left him further than an arms reach in the bath anyway.
Protection or cotton wool
Are we in danger of letting our fears over ride our commonsense? How much money, and time, did you spend baby proofing your house. And what would you do differently now in hindsight?