Getting ready for a baby's arrival involves a lot more than just buying a crib, stroller, and boxes of diapers. While newborns don't start moving right away, it's smart to take the necessary precautions to make your residence a safe one for them. Starting early will make things easier when your child becomes mobile. Keep in mind that your little one will not have the common sense to stay away from certain things at home. It is exciting to watch your baby grow and reach new milestones, but that also comes with heightened curiosity. This unfortunately, presents a set of new hazards. As a new parent, you can choose to either take each phase of childproofing as it comes, or tackle them all together before the insanity of parenthood kicks in. Whatever you choose, never underestimate what your child can do. You'd be surprised -- active toddlers have an incredible way of getting into just about anything they see!
Some people hire professional childproofers to assess their homes, and take care of everything. However, this is totally optional, and it is very possible for to-be parents to create a kid-friendly living environment themselves. This guide goes over the common tips for childproofing all the primary areas of a home.
What the Experts Have to Say
Before delving deeper into childproofing tips, let's take a look at what some professionals say about the topic:
Childproofing Your Home
Childproofing a home can be a daunting task, especially when you don't know where or how to begin. It is definitely an extensive project to be worked on for months before a baby's arrival. So, it's best to start sooner rather than later. We suggest starting with one area of the house and gradually working your way to the others as you make progress. Below, you'll find useful pointers for how to childproof each section of your home.
The living room can take a while to childproof , especially if you have a sizable common area. Below are some of the main courses of action to keep in mind to childproof a living room:
Do you have stairs in your home? If so, safety gates are essential to keep your kids from trying to climb up somewhere they aren't supposed to without supervision and potentially hurting themselves while doing it.
Keep your window-blind cords either cut short, or tucked away so that children at home cannot get entangled.
Prevent your reckless child from getting hurt by installing edge and corner bumpers. These will provide some padding in case someone falls against a sharp or hard edge.
Door stops and door holders work wonders to keep little ﬁngers from being pinched or crushed because they prevent doors from closing all the way.
Unused outlets at home should be covered so that children are not tempted to stick their tiny ﬁngers in and get shocked.
Make sure that ﬁreplaces are not left running while children are running around unsupervised, and close it oﬀ when it's not operating.
Tall furniture such as dressers and bookcases should be secured to the wall so that children don't climb them and potentially cause the furniture to fall over & cause injury.
For extra safety, it's best to keep babies and children out of the kitchen especially if any stoves, ovens, or appliances are on. However, if your child must wander around, it's crucial to make sure that you have all your guards up.
First and foremost, you'll want to lock your stove knobs. You never know when your kid will decide to one day ignite your stove burners. Operating stoves will leak gas, and enough of it will pose a silent but serious threat.
If your kitchen has a lot of low drawers, it's a good idea to secure them, especially if they contain dangerous items like scissors, knives, other sharp utensils, and household cleaners.
When it comes to doing dishes, the garbage disposal can really come in handy. If not used properly though, it can be dangerous. Be sure to use a safety cover over the garbage disposal to protect those little hands!
Think nothing could possibly go wrong in the dining room? It's better to be safe than sorry.
Avoid keeping tablecloths and placemats on top of the dining table when not eating. Toddlers love tugging at them and if anything is placed on top of the table, those items will fall.
Sharp utensils like forks and knives should be locked away when not in use.
If you have multiple bedrooms, you may want to consider making some of them "oﬀ-limits" to your child. This way, you don't have to worry about childprooﬁng every single bedroom that say, your adult son lives in, for example. If you opt to do this, you'll have to make sure that the child always stays out of the rooms that are oﬀ-limits.
As far as the baby's nursery goes, it's essential to check the crib, ensuring that it meets today's safety standards.
Cords should be carefully stowed away from the crib.
The crib should ideally be placed away from windows. If you are not able to keep the crib away from a window, consider installing window guards. These are not a substitution for parental supervision of course, but they do provide some extra safety and reassurance.
Try to keep other furniture away from your child's crib, especially heavy furniture. In fact, if you have any heavy furniture in the same room, consider strapping them or securing it properly to the wall just to be safe. As your baby grows and starts exploring more, they may want to climb on furniture which can cause it to tip and fall onto them.
Similar to bedrooms, you may choose to make one or more of your bathrooms "oﬀ-limits." However, bathrooms in common areas should be childproofed. What does this mean exactly?
Install safety locks and latches. Speciﬁcally, guards should be placed on toilets to ensure that your child cannot get into them. Cabinets and drawers with any hazardous items or medications be locked away.
Place a rubber slip cover next to the bathtub to avoid your child from slipping and falling when the area is wet.
A baby and child's skin is extra sensitive and can burn easily without proper care. To avoid this from happening, hire a plumber to install an anti-scald device for all faucets and showerheads in the bathrooms. This device will regulate the water temperature, helping to prevent burns.
Be sure to unplug all hot hair tools after use to prevent electrocution from water contact. Keep them stored somewhere safe away from curious children.
Don't forget to childproof your outdoor living space too!
If you have a big backyard with a pool and/or jacuzzi, it is strongly recommended that you install a tall fence around them. Make sure it is securely gated oﬀ so that your child cannot go into the pool without supervision. Any locks being used should be user-friendly in case an adult needs to enter locked area in the event of an emergency.
Love gardening? Bear in mind that plants and trees that produce fruit and veggies can still pose choking hazards. Avoid having any plants that could be harmful to ingest or are not friendly to the touch. In the desert particularly, it's common to grow cacti and succulents. While they are popular from a water conservation standpoint, they can cause a lot of pain if your child were to run into one or touch it out of curiosity.
Similar to the indoor areas that you may make "oﬀ-limits" to your children, you may also consider designating "kid-free zones" outside. Children under a certain age at home should not enter these areas. Generally speaking, kids should be kept away from grilling areas as well as sheds that house lawn mowers and other yard tools.
Live in a multi-story house, apartment, or condominium with balconies? Ensure that the entryways are securely locked when you are not supervising. It is best to prohibit children from entering balconies alone because they could risk falling.
Incorporate soft ground covers for play areas in your yard so that your child is cushioned from falls. Falling on fake grass or padded foam is much safer than landing on concrete or brick.
Depending on where you live, you may also want to consider building taller walls or fencing around your backyard to protect it from wandering animals that could be dangerous like wild coyotes, bears, alligators, snakes, and mountain lions, to name a few. If you live in an area where such animals frequent, it's imperative to monitor your children while they are playing outside for ultimate safety.
Work from home? There are some measures you can take for your home oﬃce to make it more kid-friendly if you often have your child in there with you while you work.
Plants should be kept up high and out of reach, as some can be toxic. Also be mindful of hanging vines that can be easily tugged by little ﬁngers.
Cords should be concealed, and if not, should be neatly organized and secured to baseboards.
If you have heavy books, put them on the bottom shelves to prevent them from being pulled oﬀ.
Keep your oﬃce supplies like staplers, scissors, pens, letter openers, and paper clips hidden and locked up in a drawer.
If you use a paper shredder, be sure to unplug it after each use.
Your laundry room might seem small and minor compared to the rest of the house, but it should certainly not be ignored.
Kids are often intrigued by bright colors, and laundry detergent often comes in the form of colorful liquids. These might look tasty to drink for a young one who doesn't know any better. With that said, it's important to keep these out of sight and up high so that only adults can reach them.
Ensure that laundry scoops are not hanging out on the ﬂoor or somewhere your child can easily pick it up and mistaken for a toy. These scoops may have leftover soap residue and are toxic to ingest.
When the washer and/or dryer is operating, keep the laundry room closed or gated oﬀ from curious children.
In addition to childproofing your home, here are some miscellaneous tips to keep in mind for the ultimate safety of your child.
- Avoid having any firearms at home, but if it's absolutely necessary, then store them in a locked box and keep the ammunition in a separate locked box somewhere else. Store the boxes high up somewhere so that your child cannot reach it.
- If you have pets at home, do not let infants interact with them alone without supervision.
- Be mindful of small objects around the house. Anything small enough to fit in a baby's mouth is too small to be left within a young child's reach.
- Garage doors at home should be equipped with a working sensor so that it doesn't shut all the way if there's a small child or pet detected.
- While you might be tempted to use soft bedding for your child because it's more comfortable, it actually comes with a risk of suffocation. Opt for something gentle, but with firm and support.
- Do not let the little ones play with broken toys, as they may be a choking hazard.
- Have realistic expectations; keep in mind that childproofing a home does not mean that your child is automatically free from harm's way. Bumps and bruises are bound to happen, and are a normal part of development. However, childproofing will help lower the risk of serious injuries and reduce the number of minor injuries, too.
It's not always easy staying on top of kids, especially if you have more than one and have a lot of things to do around the house. Childproofing your home eliminates some of that stress, allowing you and your family to rest easy. Taking these essential steps to cultivate a kid-friendly living environment will go a long way for your children's safety both in their babyhood and childhood years!
While this guide is in no way comprehensive, it is designed to provide prospective and current parents with childproofing ideas. We recommend that you also conduct your own research based on individual circumstances and even consult with an expert to properly childproof your home.
Below are some additional resources that may provide additional insight.
This website provides extensive safety guides for kids and babies that are great to review. Some topics covered include the importance of avoiding air mattresses for infants, tap water scalds, strings and cords, and much more. Here, you'll also ﬁnd a baby safety checklist if you're looking to cover the basics.
Think your infant might be at a poison risk? Call the poison control number found here, along with some tips on how to poison proof your home and use medicines safely. This is a good article to become familiar with as a precaution.
This resource contains useful tips on babyprooﬁng in the form of engaging blog posts. Find information on childprooﬁng must-haves, surprising choking hazards, and things to do to get your house in order before your baby comes, among many other things!
Get more insight on the importance of childprooﬁng your home and measures you can take to be a vigilant parent overall - such as learning ﬁrst-aid, practicing ﬁre escape plans, and more.