When it comes to keeping your baby warm on those chilly nights, it’s time to get out a heaters. Yet there are inherent dangers with leaving a heater in the nursery and even more so when your child starts to walk, hence it is important to consider how to baby proof the heaters that are used when babies are around.
When it comes to heating your baby’s room, some heater options are safer than others. Yet, even then there are precautions and considerations to be made.
All heaters designed to do the same thing: heat up your room. But when there is a baby involved it adds a new dynamic to the situation. They are curious and learn about the world through exploration. Protecting your wee one from dangers is the top of the list for any parent, so you think what can you do to prevent your child from getting hurt by heaters.
We will show you how to baby proof your heater, as well as the dangers involved in having a heater in your nursery and how you can eliminate the dangers. Awareness is always the first step!
So many heater types
Step into any electrical store during winter and you’ll be overwhelmed by all the different heating options you have available to you. Wall panel heaters, radiator heaters, oil column heaters, micathermic heaters. Ones with remotes. Ones with thermostats. But, if you have an inquisitive young one crawling about you have to think “baby-proofing”.
Additionally, if you are renting a house or apartment that has existing heating installed, it’s not possible to remove the heating if it’s permanently fixed to a wall (there would be a very cranky landlord if you did!) So, what do you do? How can you keep your baby safe while staying cosy and warm while the snow is lazily falling outside?
Time to baby proof that heater!
These heaters offer instant heat that is efficiently distributed evenly through the room, yet if the heater is wall mounted in can be a potential hazard for your child. The surface of the older models can be hot to touch and the back of the heater, where small exploring fingers can reach, can contain sharp edges.
You can reach behind the heater yourself and see if there are rough edges. Make sure you are wearing gloves when you are feeling for any potential pointy bits. To see if the panel heater is safe for little hands to touch without causing an injury, turn on your heater and feel it as it begins to heat up. Imagine your hands are your baby’s hands and think if the temperature is okay.
If you have any concerns about the wall panel heater, you can always block access to it through erecting a safety gate. With gates you need to think about:
- Space: You want the gate to be far enough from the heater so that tiny arms can’t reach it and get burned, yet you don’t want the gate to be so far out that it gets in your way.
- Secure: The last thing you want is for your baby to bump into the gate and have the gate topple over and lean against the heater (a fire hazard!) or the gate falls on top of your precious wee one. You can secure the gate to the wall, just make sure you take all precautions before you screw it into the wall. Get professional advice, especially from an electrician as you don’t want to find out you just created a potential electrical hazard by drilling into wiring.
- Material: What is the safety gate made of? Wood and plastic can be a fire hazard if placed too close to the heater. Additionally, metal could heat up and become just as much of a threat to your baby as the heater itself. Be cautious when buying a safety gate and ask about your concerns.
- Don’t block airflow: If you decide to install a gate, make sure that you read the heater manufacturer’s instructions on how much space should be allowed around the heater for airflow. You don’t want to cause a blockage that will lead to the heater overworking and causing a fire.
You can get interlocking gates that you can adjust to go around the heater so as to block off access. Another option, if you aren’t that keen on a safety gate, is a wall heater cover. You can visit your local hardware store and see what options are available for gates and wall heater covers. If you are the DIY type you could make a wall heater cover yourself!
Oil column heaters
These are safer than the panel heater in that the columns of the heater increase gradually in temperature and the surface temperature of the heater is low which means less chance of your baby sustaining a major injury if he or she touches it.
It’s recommended that you have at least a three foot clearance around the heater, which means keeping it away from bedding, clothing or anything else that can be a fire hazard. Just like the panel heater, a safety gate surrounding the heater creates a “no-go” zone for your baby.
If it’s a portable heater and you don’t have a safety gate, make sure that you are supervising the situation. You don’t want your precious child knocking the heater over and being trapped underneath it. Also, there is the possibility of a fire starting if the heater toppled and landed on something that can become a fire risk. However, most heaters now come with a cut off switch if the heater does fall over. But double check if the heater does have this feature, but don’t use it as an excuse not to watch your child.
These are the most efficient of any heater and also quiet. So if you are after warmth from a heater that isn’t going to be loud and noisy, then a micathermic heater is the one for you. In addition, this style of heater doesn’t remove the moisture from the air which is important if you have a child with respiratory issues.
Also, because of the low clearance zone of micathermic heaters, you can place them closer to objects without having to worry about a fire starting.
Yet, there is child safety you need to think about and micathermic heaters aren’t bulletproof in this area. Here is what to consider if you are after a micathermic heater that is going to be “baby-proof”:
- Automatic overheat if the heater gets too hot, there is the likelihood that it will catch on fire. The automatic overheat function will kick into gear and stop the heater turning into a disaster.
- Tip over protection Though this isn’t a unique feature in micathermic heaters, it’s still a great safety precaution for those accidental bumps when your little one is feeling adventurous.
- The outer casing You can get micathermic heaters that have a “cool-to-touch” outside casing, which means no burns if a little hand makes contact with the heater.
There, now we have the main points to look out for when making your heater safe for your little explorer. The fundamental considerations are confining access to the heater, keeping the heater away from material that can end up catching on fire, heaters tipping over and having a heater surface that is going to be low in temperature so that any accidental contact won’t mean severe injury.
However, the safety of your heaters also involves aspects that should be considered when baby-proofing any electronic appliance around your house. What are these? Let’s find out!
Oh, a cord!
Babies are natural explorers and learn by pressing, poking and pulling. Of course, you are watching your wee one navigate his or her way around the room and making discoveries that result in a happy “goo” or “ga”. But then they discover a cord…that could mean TROUBLE!
You can avoid issues if you take the basic safety measures with your heater cord. These are:
- Check to see if the cord is securely plugged into the socket.
- If you have to have the heater permanently in position and the cord runs a wee way along the ground, cover it with a mat so as to hide it (that’s a a safety a interior decorating win in one!)
- There may be the need to use an extension cord, make sure that the cord meets the same electrical draw as the heater.
- Inspect your cord regularly for any damage
If possible try and have the heater off the ground and out of reach of little hands (obviously the baby will grow into a toddler and you can talk about safety awareness).
Observe your child
As a responsible parent you are overseeing your baby’s playtime. We just wanted to remind everyone that you should never leave a child unsupervised, especially around electrical appliances such as heaters.
Secure your heater
If you can (which means if you have your own house and aren’t renting) secure your heater to a wall. But, as we have highlighted, block access to the heater with a safety gate.
Let’s put a heater in the baby’s room! Great idea, but…
Now you know how to baby proof your heater, you decide to have one in the room where your baby sleeps. You want your baby to be nice and warm right?
When it comes to having a heater in the same room as your child, you want to make sure that the heater is thermostatically controlled. The ideal room temperature is 64° F (18° C) for your baby to get a comfortable sleep. Also, get one with a timer, unless you desire to have the heater in all night.
There are also health precautions to consider when deciding to have a heater in your nursery while your baby has her or his nap time or sleep during the night.
Your baby needs moisture to keep their skin in a healthy condition, yet some heaters can suck the moisture out of the air which leads to chapped and itchy skin. That means one unhappy baby that needs cream, lotion and moisture to bring their skin back to a healthy condition.
As we mentioned, micathermic heaters are great for retaining moisture in the air. If you have to have a different type of heater, then make sure that you have great baby moisturisers and lotions on hand.
The chances of SIDS increases
A literature review about the causes of SIDS led Dre Warren G. Guntheroth and Philip S. Spiers to conclude that overheating and heat stress can contribute to SIDS. So make sure that the temperature in your baby’s room is regulated and that your child is dressed in light clothing and the bed clothes don’t cause your baby to overheat.
The room becomes too hot
When introducing a heater into the room for the first time, you may not be sure how warm the room will get. Too hot means an uncomfortable rest or sleep for your baby and that means an upset child. Check in on your child at set times and physically feel them to see if they are getting too hot. Don’t be too concerned if your baby has removed his or her baby blanket as they are able to self-regulate when they get too warm.
The temperature in the room constantly changes
It can be tricky to maintain an even temperature in the nursery. It could be that there is a draft coming from the windows or a gap. Perhaps you have positioned the heater in the wrong place and the heat is escaping from the room.
If your baby’s temperature drops by one degree from the ideal body temperature of 36.5° means that they are using 10% more oxygen and this depletes their energy reserves.
As we have seen, a room that is too hot can make it an uncomfortable environment for your baby and, in a worse case scenario, can contribute to SIDS.
Your baby can become dehydrated
When it’s hot, we sweat. So does your baby. If the nursery is too hot means that your baby is losing water through sweating and the result is a baby that is dehydrated. Dehydration makes the skin feel tight and that means an upset child.
Other signs of dehydration in your infant are less tears when crying, the mouth is dry, a reduction in the amount of wet diapers and an increase in thirst.
If you find that the heater is causing your child to be dehydrated you can look at lowering the heat setting or consider a humidifier in the room alongside your heater.
This may seem at odds with trying to heat a room, but proper air flow and ventilation is needed to ensure that the room where you sweet child is sleeping doesn’t get too stuffy. Which can lead to respiratory trouble or, if your baby does suffer from such an issue, you don’t want it aggravated.
Ensure you have the door open a wee bit to allow any stagnant air to be replaced with fresh air. Also, make sure that there is sufficient humidity in the room. When it comes to ventilating a room you need to think about the size of the room, how many children share the room and what they do in the room. Eliminate any drafts.
Proper air quality is a fine line between the right amount of heat and the correct level of humidity in the room. The ideal humidity level is 45 – 50%.
Where to place the heater
If you do decide to get a heater you first need to go into the room where your baby sleeps and have a look at air flow, where the windows are, the quality of the curtains in the room, the size of the room the electrical socket (to see if it has damage) and then go buy a heater that will suit your needs.
Once you bring the heater home think where you are going to place it. Remember you need good clearance around the heater to prevent it from causing a fire with the bed clothing, curtains or any other all fire hazard. Nor place it close to your baby’s crib where there is a possibility of your young one being able to make contact with it.
Don’t place your heater where cold air is entering the room as it will only result in the heater spending all its time trying to heat that air instead of heating the room. Position it in a spot that will allow it to provide the greatest heat efficiency for the room. Where that is, is all a matter of the design of the room.
My baby is safe and warm
Now you know what it takes to baby proof your heater. It’s more than just deciding on what heater is best you. It’s all about keeping your precious one safe from burning themself or knocking the heater over.
When you place a heater in your baby’s room you need to create an environment that is comfortable, warm and won’t result in any health issues for your sleeping child.
What’s next? You going out and grabbing that heater! You’re good to go, you great parent you!