It may seem odd to baby-proof your home when your infant can’t even roll over yet, but you may be surprised at how soon they’ll be getting around and getting into things. So it’s never too soon. Take the time to baby-proof when your little one is still brand new or even before they arrive. Ensure each room is safe from surprising hazards that could pop up as your baby starts crawling, walking, or even beginning to climb.
Get Your Child’s Point of View
The best way to baby-proof is to see things the way your baby does. Get down on your hands and knees and crawl around. What’s at baby’s eye level and within easy reach? Kids can be curious about anything they see, like computer cords and glassware on low shelves. You might overlook breakable or hazardous items when you’re towering above them.
If your home layout is anything like mine, you likely have an open-concept kitchen. This means your mobile baby can easily find a way to the cabinets or pantry even if you are in the living room, and your typical doorway gate won’t be an option.
While it might be common to keep cleaning supplies under the kitchen sink, one suggestion is finding a new place for them high-up and out of reach. Protect curious kids from household cleaners and other chemicals by storing those items in locked cabinets or installing safety latches that lock when you close the cabinet door. Do the same for any low cupboards that contain risky items like small appliances.
Some cleaning products have colorful labeling, which may appeal to young children; disinfecting solutions may feature citrus scents or similar fragrances, and young children may not know that products that smell good may also be poisonous. Skip transferring cleaning products into other containers that aren’t correctly labeled, even if it looks more organized or helps save space. This is potentially quite dangerous as young children, and other individuals in the home may not realize what is present in the container.
Nonskid pads for rugs or mats.
Also, consider stove-knob covers to prevent your baby from turning on the burners once your child is standing.
You may leave appliances such as the toaster, coffee maker, or paper shredder plugged in for convenience. But some appliances can harm your child if they turn them on, pull them down on themselves, or get tangled in a cord. So unplug them when you’re not using them and put them away, out of reach, if you can.
The most significant risk in this room is falls and collisions with furniture that has sharp edges. If you have those corners to deal with, add some stick-on corner guards. You could also look at trendy furniture options on the market, like rounded coffee tables or soft ottomans that can be used as a table, especially if they have storage.
When dealing with fabrics for couches or chairs, check the cleaning codes and look for upholstery that is a high performance, meant for everyday use, and wear and cleans well.
Stash breakables to prevent heartbreak. For now, pack away precious heirlooms and other fragile valuables.
Tie It Down
Time to secure your TVs and furniture — just in case. Use furniture straps to hold TVs, bookshelves, dressers, and other heavy furniture in place in any rooms where your child might be left alone, even for a minute. Don’t put a TV on top of a dresser; the drawers can be used for climbing. Put corner or edge bumpers on any furniture with sharp edges.
Control Your Cords
Use cord holders to keep longer cords fastened against walls. That way, your little one can’t tug on a tangle of computer cords and other electrical wiring. That could save your baby safe from electrical hazards or heavy equipment that falls after a couple of tiny tugs.
Put outlet covers on all exposed electrical sockets to keep your little one from getting an electric shock. Some small outlet covers can be a choking hazard if a baby or toddler pries them out of the wall. Look for “childproof” covers requiring two hands to remove or cover plates that screw on. For double protection, place large furniture in front of outlets.
The function is the most important thing to keep in mind in this room. Have proper storage for everything there if this is the main room for taking care of your baby. I love dressers with changing kits and detachable toppers. When you don’t need a changing table anymore, you take off the topper and have a dresser that can grow with them.
When decorating the space, avoid hanging anything directly over the crib and changing the table that the baby can grab and pull. Although you may want a beautifully staged nursery with a gallery wall behind the crib, it is not the safest. Instead, consider painting an accent wall, wallpaper, or even a wall decal. These are great since they cannot be moved and still provide an aesthetic element.
Give Baby a Safe Night’s Sleep
Make sure your baby’s crib has fixed rails. Or, if you must use an older crib, don’t use the drop-side rail or get an immobilizer for it. (Cribs with drop-side rails are banned.) Test the crib to ensure your baby can’t fit their head between the slats. If you can slide a soda can between the slats, they’re too wide. Always keep soft items like blankets, pillows, stuffed toys, and bumpers out of your baby’s sleep space.
Tie all blind cords high out of reach with cord holders. Never put a crib or child’s bed near window blinds or drapes. Those dangling cords can be a choking risk.
When It’s Time for a Change
You’ll probably be surprised at how fast your baby learns to roll over, and the changing table becomes a falling hazard. Be sure your changing table or changing pad has safety straps and always buckle up when diapering your child. Don’t ever leave the baby alone on the table. Plan and have all the items you need, diapers, wipes, baby cream, nail clippers, and a small toy handy before you start to change the baby.
Prevent Window Falls
Place your child’s crib and other furniture away from the windows. Please don’t rely on standard window screens; they’re meant to keep insects out, not children in. Instead, install window guards, which are proven to prevent falls.
Practice Toy Safety
Baby toys should be safe for babies; use an anti-choking tube to test all toys. Your child’s toys should be much larger than their mouth to prevent choking. Check that all the parts attached to a toy, like doll eyes or teddy bear bows, are securely fastened and can’t be torn off to prevent choking. Always check for Recalls for anything child-related.
Choose a Safer Toy Box
Choose a toy box with a safe design. Avoid containers with hinged lids that slam down. Instead, you want one with a light, removable lid or one that slides. Pick a toy box with ventilation holes or a gap beneath the lid if a child climbs in.
Bathroom and Laundry Room
Since this is the room where you keep your medications and cleaning supplies, it requires some special babyproofing attention. Since adults are older and bigger than young children, we don’t always think like children about poison prevention and childproofing. Everyday household items like laundry pods, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, and attractive soaps may be appealing to young children but dangerous if ingested.
You might not see your toilet as a hazard, but the water in it, and the toilet lid, can be dangerous for a curious child. To prevent any problems, always keep toilet lids down and secured with a lid lock.
Manage Your Medication
Keep all medications (both prescription and over-the-counter) well out of reach of the younger age groups. Child-safe packaging is helpful, but toddlers are clever and may open child-resistant pill bottles. Never take medicine out of its original childproof container. Try not to take medicine in front of your child, or they may want to imitate you. Never call medicine “candy.” And don’t flush old pills down the toilet. Please get rid of them through your local drug take-back program, or put them in a sealed bag with something your child won’t want to eat, like kitty litter or coffee grounds and throw it in the trash.
Make tub time fun but safe for your little one. Prevent scalding by adjusting your water heater so that the water is no hotter than 120 degrees. Install no-slip stickers on the bottom of your tub and a soft cover on the faucet to protect tender heads. Most importantly, never leave your baby or toddler alone in the tub, even for a moment. Finally, clear cosmetics and shampoos off sink and tub ledges, as they pose a poison risk.
Safety in the Car
Keep your baby safe in your car, too, in a rear-facing car seat until they are 2. Don’t use a car seat if you don’t know its history. It may have been involved in a car crash, or it may be past its expiration date. Avoid a used car seat that looks damaged or is missing parts or the instructions. Avoid recalled models, too. You can find out more about car seat safety from the manufacturer or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Around Pools and Water Features
Take steps to safeguard areas around pools, hot tubs, and other home features with standing water, like fish tanks and ponds. For example, backyard pools should be surrounded by a 4-foot fence, preferably with a self-latching gate. Pool covers and alarms may provide additional protection. Don’t leave toys floating in pools. And just like in the tub, never take your eyes off a child near water.
Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are essential to your family’s safety. Install a smoke alarm outside every bedroom or sleeping area, and make sure there’s at least one on every floor. Don’t put smoke detectors near the kitchen or bathroom; these areas can trigger false alarms that may leave you inclined to ignore them. Instead, check the batteries every month.
Here are a few last tips:
- Suppose there are some rooms you don’t want to babyproof, use baby gates to keep your little one from getting into them. Also, install gates at the top and bottom of the stairs before your baby gets mobile. Don’t use accordion-style gates, which could trap the baby’s head. Look for gates that attach securely to the wall but won’t pinch small fingers.
- Place locks on liquor cabinets; alcohol can be poisonous to young children.
- Check your doorstops; many have removable caps that pose a choking hazard.
- Keep toy batteries safely stowed away; they can leak acid, causing serious burns.
- Finger-pinch guards for hinges on doors are helpful.
- Be alert away from home. Grandma’s house won’t be as safe for your baby as his own home is.
- You can always see a full-list of babyproofing supplies at our Baby Proofing / Safety List