Once those toddlers begin toddling your whole world gets turned upside down, well at least the household does. Drinks are spilled, yoghurt is splashed, play dough is trampled, crayon marks turn up in the strangest places, and the whole place could become a horror show of potential accidents! With a little forethought, knowledge and care when you buy, many accidents involving both your furniture or your children, grandchildren or dependents can be averted. Here are some simple do’s and don’ts to bear in mind when buying furniture for a household where children are a normal part of the landscape.

 

Do… check that the furniture you select is sturdy and well built. Delicately constructed pieces will be easily destroyed and might well cause a nasty accident in the process. When you buy furniture ask yourself, “can this piece be pulled down or knocked over by a small child?” If the answer is, “yes” then it is not for you… at least not at this stage in your life, put that thought on hold for when your nest is empty!

 

Don’t… neglect to anchor furniture such as bookshelves, wardrobes, tall cupboards, and entertainment units to the wall or floor to reduce the risk of them tipping and injuring someone. To ‘little minds’ a bookshelf looks like a ladder to be climbed, and cupboard doors are lovely to swing on, such activities have caused serious and sometimes sadly even fatal accidents. A good retailer will strongly recommend that you use anchors and will supply them with the furniture. If this does not happen or you have existing furniture without these safety measures in place, please shop for some today, either in a hardware store, online or at your local furniture dealer. 

 

Do… consider your window treatments carefully. If blinds are your ‘thing’ then opt for cordless ones, they are so much safer. If you have blinds or curtains with cords tie them up out of harms way to reduce the risk of strangulation.

 

Don’t…refuse the care and protection plan. Berries, juices, chocolate, and ice cream are just a few of the heavy arsenal of stain producing weapons has each child has at their finger tips. Most care plans or ‘warranties’ you will be offered will give you protection against not just common stains but also accidental damage, breakages, scratches and structural defects of your cabinetry, upholstery, floors and bed. The service will clean or repair your furniture to bring it back up to standard, some policies these days even offer ‘no quibble like for like replacement’ if the item cannot be made good. Make sure that you read the small print of the policy you are being offered so that you understand exactly what is covered and not covered. This will prevent any disappointments. In most cases however you will be very glad you did protect you new furnishings with a good policy.

 

Do… know your glass. If you chose furniture with glass tops or doors double check that they are fitted with toughened safety glass. British Standards BS 7449 or better is a pre-requisite. Ordinary, or ‘annealed’ glass, will break into dagger-like shards, and is not suitable for use in a home with children. Toughened glass is put through a heating and cooling process which increases its strength but should it break it shatters into relatively harmless cube-like fragments referred to in the trade as dice. Box specifications or your furniture dealer should advise you on the type of glass that has been used in the furniture you are purchasing. Putting stickers on glass cabinet doors at eye level can be used as an extra measure to warn running children that the glass is there.

 

Don’t… buy furniture with sharp edges or corners. If you already have furniture that fits this description move it away from areas where children run around, like hallways and near doorways. If you can’t move the furniture, then bumper pads are a good next move. Foam corner protectors will also do the trick while the kids are small.

 

Do… ask about safety mechanisms on any furniture you buy that has moving parts. Tiny fingers, legs and feet can easily be trapped in mechanical recliners or electric lift and rise chairs. Many are fitted with cut-outs and other safety mechanisms to prevent this from happening. Make sure this is the case if you require ‘action’ furniture that fits this description.

 

Don’t… go for loose woven linens or delicate cottons for your upholstery, instead choose more robust fabrics like a microfibre or canvas. Chenille and silk are also no-gos unless you get a special performance variety. Low pile fabrics such as the synthetic velvets that we are seeing a lot of these days are quite good and a spill can be sponged off easily if you catch it in time. Microfibre, also known as microsuede, is a dream when it comes to muddy feet and sticky hands, it is resistant to stains, hard to rip and lasts for a very long time. Aquaclean is a modern fabric that is soft to touch, hardwearing and wipe-able/washable using just water. Combine it with a hygiene protector such as Safefront and you have all round protection against viruses and bacteria and mites as well. Leather is a pretty good choice too, it’s easy to clean, can be periodically wiped down with a damp cloth but avoid untreated aniline leather which although gives the most natural look, will show every mark and scuff (unless having a pronounced a patina is your thing!) and instead steer towards treated pigmented leathers, which are more durable. Be aware that ‘split’ or re-constituted leather, common on less expensive pieces and from many catalogues, is much less hardwearing than the top grain hides found on better quality pieces. Man made ‘faux leather’ is also a great way to go.

 

Do… consider solid wood over veneers, which are delicate and easily damaged. A hard wood is better than a soft wood like pine, which can bruise. Even an activity like drawing with a pen on a piece of paper without padding below can leave a horrible imprint in soft wood. Most likely the best way to go is to choose a plastic finished product such as melamine which is wipeable, tough, crayon resistant and repels most satins as long as you don’t leave them too long. There are some beautiful digitally printed melamines around today… you don’t just have to settle for white or faux wood finishes anymore.

 

Don’t… pick slippery floors. Carpeting is good as it is softer in the case of occasional falls and has good traction. There are some fantastically hard wearing ranges that are very good looking too! Avoid ceramic tiles which are can be slippery and can potentially cause head injuries and instead opt for a LVT (luxury vinyl tile) which mimics the look of tile, stone or wood. Wet messes and muddy foot prints are more easily cleaned from hard flooring. Choose one with a texture that will give a little more traction, LVT is a quieter choice, too. More fragile solid wood floors are noisy, vulnerable to scratches and can stain easily unless you have a strong protective finish applied. Rustic planking, in either real wood or synthetic, is an excellent choice… it’s on trend, less slippery and the scratches will blend right in. Rugs are nice but can be a common trip hazard especially with speeding kids. If you like hard flooring with rugs then use a gripping pad below such as ‘Foxi Rug-Stop’ which will prevent it from slipping. Available from all good flooring specialists.

 

Do… choose patterned prints or textured fabrics for your furniture because they make marks harder to spot. Opt for darker colours and neutrals like navy, black, grey and brown and of course you should avoid white at all costs! An application of stain protection will help guard against the most beastly of pet marks. This can be provided upon request at most good furniture stores.

Don’t… dismiss the environment. Considering products that are sustainable and friendly to the environment is a good example to set for your children. Eco products are also healthier to live with and cut down on allergies, helping you to breath more easily. Enquire about products before you buy. Where were they made? Is the product ‘green’ in its harvesting and production? Are the materials recycled to help save the Earth’s resources? What has the product been treated with? Here are some products to look out for – bamboo flooring, reclaimed wooden floors and marmolium… Sustainably produced or upcycled wooden furniture… Mattresses made from recycled bottles or those made from all natural fillings and materials… Natural fibres such as jute, hemp and seagrass which can be found both in flooring and furniture… Wool carpeting… Cotton or wool rugs…

There is a huge interest in eco friendly product right now and the response in our industry has been equal to the challenge for there are plenty of choices to be made!

 

Do… enjoy your nest while it is full with the patter of tiny feet (and even when they get a little bigger) and relax knowing that you have made all the right choices to keep everyone happy and safe. We hope these tips have been helpful. If you do need more detailed advice guidance don’t hesitate to come and see us, we have a wealth of information to share with you!