You should never leave a baby or small child on a balcony or raised deck by themselves. And even if you have a patio securely planted on terra firma, you should still take a few minutes to make it child-friendly, and always keep an eye on your infant. Here are my suggestions for making your container garden a safe place for you to enjoy a bit of sunshine with your child.
Control Access To Your Outdoor Space
First and foremost, you need to make sure that your child is never able to go outside without your knowledge. My balcony is accessed through a door with keyless deadbolt and a lever door handle. There are child safety mechanisms for both lever door handles as well as round knobs that make it so little hands can’t open the door. In addition to that, I think I am going to also put either a chain door fastener or a door guard on that door (up high) because I suspect that the child proof door handles/knobs only fool younger toddlers.
There is also a window that could grant access to my balcony from my son’s room. I don’t think I’ll bother child-proofing it because it is so heavy, I have a hard time raising it up. However, there are devices that make it so you can’t open a window beyond a certain point if your windows are easier to open. I would put the window lock at a point so that the window is only able to open 4 inches or less, as that is the width that is considered safe for stair and balcony railings.
Lock Up Your Tools, Fertilizers & Pesticides
No more leaving your tools, fertilizers, and pesticides just strewn about your garden space. That’s tacky anyway. Small kids generally grab everything within arm’s reach and may put it straight into his mouth. The best option is to keep anything that could be dangerous in a location that your baby NEVER has access to, like a locked cabinet in the garage. However, realistically, you’re going to want to keep some things close at hand. You can buy a storage box or a table with storage to keep all the stuff close while keeping it safe from children.
Check Your Railings
Before you let your child out onto your deck or balcony, check the railings. Are they in good condition? Securely fastened to the deck/wall? Now go grab your tape measure and check the distance between railings, and between the floor and the bottom beam. There should be no space greater than four inches. If there is a spot with a greater than 4-inch space, your child could squeeze through. If you do find that your railings are too far apart, you can weave a special netting through the bars to make things more secure. You may have to discuss this with your homeowner if you are renting.
Move Plants, Chairs, and Benches Away from Railings
Kids like to climb. And it only takes a split second with your back turned for a toddler to mount a plant pot and pull themselves over your balcony or deck railing. It’s pretty much the same skill that they’ll use to get out of baby jail their crib. When moving your pots back, you might want to redesign your containers so that the focal point plant is in the center of the pot (if the pot is not going to be against a wall) or at the back of the pot (if the pot is against a wall). Also, while you’re at it, make sure your larger pots can’t be toppled over when your baby pulls up on the rim. This could be especially problematic if you have pot feet underneath that make the pot a bit unstable.
Protect Your Plants From Your Kid and Your Kid From Your Plants
Some of your plants may be poisonous, and you don’t want your baby to eat your other ornamental plants, even if it won’t hurt him or her. So, the best thing to do is keep plants that are not for your child out of reach. This is a great database to check whether your plants are poisonous or not: FDA Poisonous Plants Database.
I really love pots that hang on the railings not just for keeping them out of reach, but for making more room outside too.