Baby-Proofing Your Home

Your new baby is growing fast.  Soon she'll be starting to move around your home, first crawling, then walking.  Baby proofing your home should be at the top of your parenting to-do list.  And you should do it before your baby becomes mobile.  There are some baby-proofing tasks you'll need to do in every room of your house, so let's start there.  Then we'll break it down and go room-by-room through your home.

Throughout the House

In every room of your home, you'll want to install plastic electrical outlet covers.  These will keep your baby from sticking his fingers or any objects into the outlets.  

Make sure to secure all electrical cords so they're not hanging in a way that your baby could grab them and pull lamps or other appliances onto himself.

If you have blinds installed in your home, make sure they are cordless.  All standard blinds made in the US since 2019 are manufactured without cords, or with short cords that do not pose a strangulation threat to your baby.  However, older blinds can have the long, looped cords that your baby can get tangled in.  If you have these blinds, upgrade to the newer, safer blinds, or cut the cord so it no longer poses a strangulation threat.

Knick-nacks and small items within baby's reach are a no-no.  

Plants can also pose a health threat to your baby.  Make sure that any plants you have in your home are not poisonous.  Place all planters on high counters or hang them from the ceiling so your baby cannot reach them.  

Vacuum regularly to pick up any small items that may have fallen onto the carpet that could pose a choking risk.

If you have dresser drawers, bookshelves, or other furniture in your home that your child could grab onto and pull down on top of themselves, use hardware to secure these items to the wall.  Since 2000, nearly 500 babies and children in the US have died when furniture fell onto them.  The majority of the victims have been between 1 and 3.5 years old.  You can learn more about furniture tipping dangers in your home by clicking here.  

If you have guns in your home, make sure they are locked up tight. 

Block off stairs with baby gates until your baby has learned to safely navigate them.

Baby-Proofing Your Living Room

As your baby learns to walk, he'll spend a lot of time falling down, and sometimes colliding with the sharp edges and corners of furniture.  Consider removing these items during those early days until your baby has mastered walking.  If you don't want to remove these items, use corner and edge guards to soften any potential collision.

Make sure your television is secured in a way that your baby cannot pull it down on top of herself.  Mount it securely to the wall, or place it on a piece of furniture where it's high enough that baby cannot grab it.  

Baby-Proofing Your Kitchen

Those low cabinets in your kitchen will be quite an attractive toy for your crawling baby unless you lock them up.  There are a variety of cabinet locks on the market.  Some requiring drilling into the cabinets, others don't.  Make sure you lock up any cabinet low enough for your baby to reach.

Before you lock up your lower cabinets, consider what items you're storing in those cabinets within your baby's reach.  Under the kitchen sink is a convenient place to store cleaners which can be harmful to your baby.  Even with a lock on the cabinet, you may consider moving dangerous cleaners and chemicals from any lower cabinets as an extra security against baby getting into them.  Alternately, you can consider switching to non-toxic, chemical-free cleaning products for your home.

If you store medications or vitamins in your kitchen, be sure those are locked away in cabinet too.  Even if the cabinet is up too high for your baby to reach now, it's a good thing to lock them up.  After all, before you know it your baby will also be climbing too.

To keep your baby occupied and entertained while you're working in the kitchen, considering giving her her own cabinet filled with plastic dishes and storage containers that she can play with safely.

If you have refrigerator magnets, make sure they're up high enough that your baby cannot reach them.

If the knobs on your stove are reachable to a toddler, install knob covers on them so your baby cannot accidentally turn on the stove.

Install locks on any drawers in your kitchen that contain items that could be harmful to your baby - particularly the drawers where you keep knives.  

Baby-Proofing Your Bathroom

Even though it's probably one of the smallest rooms in your house, your bathroom can be one of the most dangerous rooms for your baby.

Start your bathroom baby-proofing work by locking down the toilet lid.  That will keep baby - and his toys - out. 

Remove all cleaning supplies so they're not within your baby's reach.   Do the same with toilet brushes and plungers as these harbor dangerous germs.  

Check the screw covers on your toilets.  These can become loose and pose a choking hazard.

In the tub, keep razors up high and out of reach.

If you keep medicines in your bathroom, make sure they're kept out of your baby's reach.  Do the same with shampoos, soaps, and other personal hygiene items.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends setting your water heater to a temperature no hotter than 120 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent scalding in the bathtub.  

Put a non-skid mat or stickers in your bathtub.  Once your baby starts to pull up, the slippery bottom of the tub can be dangerous for her.  

Baby-Proofing the Nursery

Let's start by making sure your baby's crib is safe.  If you're buying a new crib, then it will already be up to current crib safety standards.  If you're using a borrowed crib or one you purchased several years ago, it's important to give it a safety review.  Your crib should have

    • A firm,  firm, tight-fitting mattress so your baby cannot get trapped between the mattress and the crib.
    • No missing, loose, broken or improperly installed screws, brackets or other hardware on the crib or mattress support.
    • No more than 2 and 3/8 inches (about the width of a soda can) between crib slats so your baby's body cannot fit through the slats; no missing or cracked slats.
    • No corner posts over 1/16th inch high so your baby's clothing cannot catch.
    • No cutouts in the headboard or footboard so your baby's head cannot get trapped.

Cribs that are incorrectly assembled, have missing, loose or broken hardware or broken slats can result in entrapment or suffocation deaths.

Remember to secure furniture to the wall in all the rooms - but especially the nursery.  After all, your baby will eventually figure out how to climb out of her crib so you want to make sure that while she's playing alone in her room, she cannot climb on a dresser and pull it down.

Toy boxes can pose a threat to your baby.  If you have a toy box, make sure it has a lid that cannot fall down and injure your baby.  Make sure to choose a toy box that has rounded corners and edges. 

Want to learn more about baby-proofing your home?  The CPSC has a list of safety devices you can use to make your home safe for your baby.