Put that down! Why toddlers cost UK parents £400 in household damage and how to prevent it

·4-min read
Little toddler boy opening a window. Domestic accident. Dangerous situation at home. Rear view.
Bad idea, little person. Get down from there... (Getty Images)

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We all know children are expensive to have around - but when you're renting property, that never-ending outlay can suddenly spiral alarmingly. 

New research has found that under-threes cost parents £400 in broken household items on average, while for Britain's one million private renters with kids, this could add up to over £400 million in deductions from their house deposits. 

London estate agency Douglas and Gordon looked into the most common - and costly - damage caused by toddlers, and did the sums.

A broken window cost up to £1,500 to replace, a disaster which has befallen 4% of mums and dads. Other issues included snapped electrical cables - not only dangerous but likely to cost £8.50 per item, while smashed mirrors could mean forking out over £350 to replace, and scuffed or marked paintwork and wallpaper requiring around £500 to have it professionally re-done. 

Broken appliances could cost weary parents £1,150 and a smashed TV around £500 to replace. 

Watch: Consumer reports offers tips for protecting children from household dangers

But how do you stop toddlers from rampaging round their home? They don't care if it's rented or been in the family for centuries, they just want to know what happens when you put a pack of rusks in the washing machine and draw a masterpiece on the wall. 

So it's up to us to make sure they can rampage without too much trouble.

"Some simple 'childproofing' measures can really benefit renters in the long run," says a spokesperson for Douglas and Gordon. 

Here's how to keep your home safe from toddlers - and keep them safe from harm, too. 

1. Buy washable crayons and markers

If you let them have permanent markers, of course they're going to draw on everything permanently. Nowadays, you can get washable crayons, felt tips, or even paints you can use in the bath - to be safely tidied away when out of it. Any drawings on walls can be wiped away with a damp cloth. 

Our top pick: Crayola - 8 Washable Crayons | £3.99 from Amazon

Crayola - 8 Washable Crayons
Crayola - 8 Washable Crayons

2. Secure heavy items

Household goods like TVs and bookshelves should always be secured to the walls with safety strap, to stop them falling over. Small children have an unerring desire to grab and pull things - and as well as smashed electrical items, it can end in serious injury. Make sure nothing is 'pull-able', by investing in secure wall straps to hold up unsecured items. 

Our top pick: Anti-Tip Television and Furniture Anchor Strap for Child Safety | £24.96 from Amazon

Anti-Tip Television and Furniture Anchor Strap for Child Safety
Anti-Tip Television and Furniture Anchor Strap for Child Safety

3. Never let them climb furniture

One minute they're scrambling up the sofa back, the next they're teetering on the mantelpiece holding the mirror for balance. Never let toddlers climb furniture - that's what the (safe) playground is for. To discourage any attempts on Everest, make sure you don't keep anything colourful and appealing on high shelves in their eye-line. So no ornaments, toys, or snacks (or even things that resemble snacks - like pot pourri) in sight. Instead, keep toys in storage baskets at ground level. 

Our top pick: Great Little Trading Co Rope Storage Basket | £24 from John Lewis & Partners

Great Little Trading Co Rope Storage Basket
Great Little Trading Co Rope Storage Basket

4. Buy clips for cupboards

Swinging on cupboard doors, investigating the tumble drier, or worse, pulling drawers out, can all cause damage and danger. To make sure storage (and appliances) remain childproof, fit child-locks to doors, fridges, washing machines and dryers. It's a few seconds of hassle that will avoid years of potential injury and expense. 

Our top pick: BeeGo Child Safety Magnetic Cupboard Locks | £19.95 (Was £24.95) from Amazon

BeeGo Child Safety Magnetic Cupboard Locks
BeeGo Child Safety Magnetic Cupboard Locks

5. Use cable ties

Not for the kids, for the cords. If you have wires from the TV, laptops and appliances snaking around the floor, accidents are inevitable (and that goes for pets, too). Solve the problem by bundling stray wires together with cable ties, and tack any spare cabling to the wall so nobody can trip or yank it.

Our top pick: GTSE Hook and Loop Cable Ties | £5.04 from GTSE (also available from Amazon)

GTSE Hook and Loop Cable Ties
GTSE Hook and Loop Cable Ties

6. Have indoor toys and outdoor toys

You don't have to to be too draconian, children need to play - but keep a set of 'indoor' toys such as a foam football and indoor skittles, plus create a few rules such as slippers, not hard shoes inside, and no drinks except water in the living area or bedrooms. It's annoying at first, but they'll quickly get used to the rules - particularly if you invest in some new toys and cute footwear for everyone. 

Our top pick: Halsall 20cm Foam Football Set | £8.99 from John Lewis & Partners

Halsall 20cm Foam Football Set
Halsall 20cm Foam Football Set

Watch: Why a cordless vacuum cleaner is a worthy investment

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