Congrats on expecting or recently becoming a parent! You’re about to start out on a wonderful journey! You have lots of things to take care of and you need it to be done quickly, including baby proofing your home. You might be excited to prepare yummy snacks for your child, but the kitchen is a wild jungle for a baby. Perhaps you can’t wait to dive into the bathtub and have your baby splash around in the water, but that can be a slippery slope, too. Even the nursery has things you need to watch out for. All these things are easily fixable and preventable, and to help you cover your bases, we’ve prepared a checklist to guide you through baby proofing your home.
- Invest in latches for cabinets and drawers. This is one of the easiest investments you can make when baby proofing your home. Latches will prevent your baby from opening drawers and reaching for items such as forks and colorful medicine bottles, or slamming their fingers.
- Add stove-knob covers. Stove knob covers clip behind the knob handle, preventing it from turning, and turning on the burners.
- Accessorize with non-skid rugs. You don’t want your kitchen turning into an ice rink for the little one. Non-skid pads and rugs will minimize falls and accidents.
- Install latches on trash cans. Most children have a phase where they get interested in waste at one point. You don’t want to be constantly fetching them out of the bin, or picking up previously thrown away items around the house.
- Use your kitchen appliances wisely. When cooking, use the back burners, as they are harder to reach. To avoid curious hands grabbing at pots, turn all handles inward. Loading the dishwasher? Put all knives and forks pointing down. That way, if your little explorer crawls near an open dishwasher, the risk of injury is minimized. Ideally, keep your dishwasher closed at all times, as there are chemicals that could be harmful to your baby.
- Remove any easily reachable home decor pieces that could fit in a child’s mouth and become a choking hazard. Think of things like refrigerator magnets and other small trinkets.
- Don’t store cleaning supplies or matches/lighters under the sink or anywhere else that’s in your child’s reach. Keep them in a higher cabinet separate from food. If possible, lock the shelves that contain these hazardous items.
- Avoid using tablecloths. A young child can easily grab or tug on it and pull sharp objects, such as knives, or hot food down on themselves.
- Use heavy-weight hooks. Even if the item you’re hanging up is light, the extra support from heavier hooks can prevent objects from being grabbed and pulled off the walls.
- Use electrical tape. Electrical tape can hide electrical cords from the little one. Bonus tip: hide cords behind furniture to keep out of reach.
- Use pads to soften sharp edges. Corners and edges are especially dangerous when your baby starts learning how to walk. Covering them up with soft padding can help prevent injuries.
- Check all of your house plants. You might not even realize it, but some plants at your home could be poisonous to a young organism. Make sure all pots are secured from tipping over.
- Install brackets and other devices to secure furniture, such as bookcases and wardrobes. Brackets will usually be available at a baby supplies or home goods store. Kids love to climb, so make sure heavy furniture won’t fall on top of them.
- Add physical barriers to the fireplace. Cushion the area with extra space around it, so that the flames are out of reach of children.
- Secure all heavy objects. We can’t say this often enough. TVs, plant pots, vases, and lamps are all items that could tip easily and cause a lot of damage to young children, so make sure everything is securely in place. Try using earthquake putty or brackets to hold things in place.
- Make use of cordless blinds. Cords are potential strangling hazards, and cords on blinds are especially so due to being long and looped.
- Set the room up with a thick carpet or rugs to soften falls.
- Use an open bin for a toy box. Toy box lids can be heavy and can trap a baby’s arm or head if they reach for a toy.
- Invest in finger-pinch guards. Babies are curious and their fingers can reach in many little nooks and crannies once they start crawling. You can prevent their fingers from getting squished with finger-pinch guards.
- Definitely install window guards. It’s a dangerous and false assumption to think that an insect screen can prevent a baby from falling out the window. It simply won’t. Invest in guards that can be screwed to the window frame or stops that will prevent the window from opening wide.
- Do not place furniture near windows. There is no doubt that you will be extremely excited when your baby starts climbing on sofas and chairs – they’re growing fast! However, that also means that they can climb onto that couch that’s next to a window. You don’t want that potential danger around!
- Make sure the slats are narrow. A crib or playpen will usually have slats, and you will need to make sure that they are narrow enough to where a child’s head can’t get stuck in between them.
- Don’t hang anything over the crib or the changing table. Whether it be pictures or shelves, it’s not worth the risk that something could come off and fall on your baby.
- Make sure the mattress is at the right height. Most cribs allow you to adjust it. The higher levels make it easier to lift a newborn out of the crib, but they become dangerous when your child is able to pull herself to standing. Around the 6-month mark, move the mattress to its lowest setting.
- Don’t trust the baby bath seat. These seats have been known to tip over and cause drowning. Instead, try a small baby tub. Remember to never leave your baby unattended when they are in the water.
- Set the water heater to lower than 120 degrees F. This will prevent burns and ensure that the baby is bathed at safe water temperatures.
- Pay attention to the bathroom trash can. It’s easy to forget this little trashcan when buying latches for all the other ones in the house. However, this potentially could be one of the more dangerous waste bins in the house: unattended razors, medicines, or even cotton balls are all potential hazards for a baby.
- Keep cosmetics and other hygienic products stowed away, as they may pose a risk of poisoning to children.
- Consider child-resistant “toilet locks” that secure the lid. Most toddlers go through a phase where they are fascinated by human bodily functions. To prevent them from exploring the toilet bowl or tipping into it, lock the lid when the toilet is not in use.
- Unplug electric appliances when they are not in use. Hair dryers, straighteners, and electrical razors all need to be turned off and put away as they can cause harm to a baby.
- Once again, non-skid padding for rugs is the way to go when thinking about floor safety. Slip-proof your bathroom!
- Check that all the medication bottles have child-proof caps and are out of the reach of children. Those tiny bottles can be very bright in color making them an attractive, jingly toy, so don’t let your little one get their hands on them. Bonus tip: add a child-safety latch to the medicine cabinet.
- Place safety gates at all staircases and rooms that you don’t want your baby playing in.
- Dust and vacuum regularly to rid the floor and other surfaces of tiny objects, such as loose pennies or paper clips, which can become choking hazards.
- Place locks on liquor cabinets; alcohol can be poisonous to young children.
- Remove caps from your doorstops. When your baby starts crawling they may find doorstops to be interesting. To prevent them from taking off the caps and giving them a taste, take them off before they get to them.
- Keep toy batteries away from the baby. Many toys are powered by batteries. They may fall out and cause a lot of harm. Batteries can leak acid or become a choking hazard, so keep them away or safely locked.
- Cover all open outlets with outlet covers. You don’t want those sneaky fingers getting in there!
- Invest in radiator guards for all of your heaters, as high heat can cause severe burns.
- To prevent fires, check that all the smoke detectors around your house are in tact and invest in a fire extinguisher.
Remember to supervise your baby at all times. If your child is old enough, teach your child how to call 911 in case of an emergency.