Menu

Not a small problem
Toddlers cause £3.4bn of damage

  • Each child damaging furniture during their toddler phase causes nearly £400 of damage to their home
  • 3.4 million injuries to toddlers at home in the last year alone, 9,000 every day or seven every minute
  • To try to avoid injury, and protect their home,parents spend £1.7bn on child proofing measures

'Terrible toddlers' cause hundreds of pounds worth of damage in the home, reveals new research from Direct Line Home Insurance1. On average, each child during their toddler phase, from seven months to three years old, causes destruction costing £389 in the home. However, more than half a million (573,000) families have actually had damage cost them over £1,000. Across the UK these mini home-wreckers cause on average £3.4bn of damage.

The most common problems are ruined paintwork and wallpaper, experienced by nearly half (48 per cent) of parents, followed closely by soiled furniture or furnishings (44 per cent). Flashing lights and glowing buttons prove irresistible to a quarter of toddlers who love toying with electrical items, damaging tablets and breaking mobile phones (26 per cent), TVs (13 per cent) and sometimes even causing appliances to break (9 per cent).

Table one: Top 10 types of damage caused by toddlers

Rank Damage caused Percentage of parents who experienced this
1 Ruined paintwork or wallpaper 48%
2 Soiled furniture or furnishings 44%
3 Damaged tablet or mobile phone 26%
4 Damaged picture frames or mirrors 25%
5 Ripped furnishings 19%
6= Damaged other electrical item(s) 15%
6= Pulled over a bookcase / shelving unit 15%
7 Damaged TV 13%
8 Caused an appliance to break 9%
9 Damaged electrical cables 6%
10 Broke windows 4%

Source: Direct Line Home Insurance

Playing with some items has much more serious consequences than just needing to be repaired or replaced. One in six parents (15 per cent) report that their toddler has pulled over a bookcase or shelving unit, something which could result in serious injury. Nearly three quarters (70 per cent) of parents with toddlers report that their child has been injured at home in the last 12 months. This equates to 3.4 million injuries to toddlers in the last year alone, seven every minute.

The most common injuries are a result of toddlers hitting their head on furniture (35 per cent) or tripping up (14 per cent). Others have risked serious burns by scalding themselves with boiling water from a kettle (13 per cent), burning themselves with a hair styling device (eight per cent) or on a pan or oven (five per cent).

Dan Simson, Head of Home Insurance at Direct Line, commented: "When children start learning to walk, parents suddenly see their home in a new light, one filled with potential hazards. Valuable objects must be moved out of reach or put away, cupboards must be locked, and electrical cables and sockets must be secured. Even then young children will inevitably find things they shouldn’t touch and risk redecorating the walls with crayon 'art'."

Parents try their hardest to prevent injuries from occurring and protect their children as they crawl and learn to walk. Each parent spends around £137 babyproofing their home, with £1.7bn spent on baby and child proofing measures across the UK. Babyproofing includes everything from putting baby gates on stairs (59 per cent), to adding safety plugs into sockets (56 per cent), locks on cupboard doors (47 per cent) and attaching corner or edge guards to furniture (37 per cent).

Despite parents going to great lengths to protect them, toddlers are often able to overcome some of these barriers. They have climbed on furniture unaided (60 per cent), gone up or down stairs on their own (52 per cent) and even left their room on their own (48 per cent). Toddlers can also be escape artists, getting out of their bed (46 per cent) and even escaping from a high sided cot unaided (29 per cent).

Dan Simson continued: "Babyproofing your home is an inexpensive way to protect your child which, at an average cost of £137, is a fraction of the average cost of damage caused by toddlers. When considering that this is added to the benefit of avoiding potential injuries for your child, it is priceless."

Notes to Editors

1 Research conducted by Opinium among a nationally representative sample of 2,000 adults between 11th - 14th January 2019

For further information please contact:

Chelsey Wheeler
PR Manager
Direct Line Group
Tel: 01651 832 095
Email: chelsey.wheeler@directlinegroup.co.uk

Samantha Stewart
Citigate Dewe Rogerson
Tel: 0207 025 6497
Email: samantha.stewart@citigatedewerogerson.com

Direct Line

Started in 1985, Direct Line became the first UK insurance company to use the telephone as its main channel of communication. It provides motor, home, travel, pet and life insurance cover direct to customers by phone or on-line.

Direct Line general insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales No 1179980. UK Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Direct Line and UK Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.
Customers can find out more about Direct Line products or get a quote by calling 0345 246 3761 or visiting www.directline.com/home-cover