Most parents start thinking of baby proofing their houses when the baby begins to crawl. But you’ll be surprised how unsafe your home may be even for a newborn who doesn’t move quite much. That’s why baby proofing your home should begin before the baby is even born.
Certainly, your newborn baby won’t need the same level of baby proofing as a crawling infant or wandering toddler. But there are still things that can jeopardize your baby’s safety.
Baby proofing your home before the baby arrives has other benefits too – it gives you peace of mind. You’ll be able to check that everything your baby could touch poses no hazards. Here is a checklist of things to baby proof before your bundle of joy arrives.
BABY PROOFING FOR NEWBORNS
Baby proofing your home for a newborn mainly involves choosing a suitable crib and safe newborn gear. At this age, a great number of infant deaths is related to accidental suffocation and choking due to foreign objects. But you also have to think about the risks of entrapment or strangulation.
For babies up to four months – or until they begin to turn and move in their crib – the main risks are posed by baby mobiles and hanging toys that are placed either too low and within baby’s reach or that are not secured safely on the crib.
The strings on which the toys hang can potentially strangle your baby if the mobile falls in the crib.
The choice of the crib is another important step to consider. A bassinet is safe in the first months. As for the crib, don’t choose a model with drop-side rails even if they may be more comfortable for you. The drop-side rails can leave gaps between the frame and the mattress. If your baby’s head gets trapped in these gaps it can lead to death by suffocation.
Not only this, but the baby could trap her hands or legs in the gaps, which can lead to injuries.
If the drop-side bar drops while the baby is sleeping, she may even fall off the crib, which can also lead to injuries. Since 2011, these cribs are banned from production but it’s still possible to find them in vintage shops. By all means, stay away from these models.
BABY PROOFING YOUR NURSERY
Once the baby starts to move and stand, it’s important to check all objects your baby can reach and make sure they are safe.
To prevent choking and suffocation hazards, remove anything that your baby doesn’t need from the crib. This includes stuffed toys, toys that have small parts, and surplus blankets and pillows. Use fitted sheets to prevent them from rolling under your baby. Instead of a blanket, use a baby sleep sack which is safer for infants and toddlers.
Also, check if the baby can touch any appliances in the room. Humidifiers, for example, are often used in the nursery but they can get quite hot and burn your baby’s hands. To prevent this, place any appliances out of the baby’s reach.
Once your baby starts standing on her own, remove the baby mobile and any hanging toys.
Make sure the changing table has bumpers or rails that prevent a restless infant from falling. Also, make sure you place the mattress on a lower position to make sure the baby’s safe in the crib.
ELECTRICAL SAFETY FOR INFANTS AND TODDLERS
So, your bundle of joy has started crawling or walking? That’s exciting! But this huge step forward comes with huge worries and responsibilities. One of the greatest worries is your kid getting in touch with electricity.
With over 100 children dying each year by electrocution, it’s essential to prevent access to any electrical outlet.
The first step is to map down all electrical outlets in your home. Literally get on your knees and write down the position of each outlet. Once identified, cover each one with sliding cover plates, which are safer than the outlet covers. In fact, outlet covers can fall off providing access to the outlet and posing a choking hazard.
Use power strip safety covers on all extension outlets and conduct an appropriate cable management by keeping the wires bundled. There are many products to consider for this purpose, from cable ties and wraps to sleeves and covers.
Appliances are also risky, so unplug all of them when not in use. Store the hair dryer, iron, or vacuum cleaner away from the reach of your toddler, and never leave them plugged in if you have to leave the room even for a short time.
It is also crucial to start to educate your baby about the risks as early as possible. Set a good example when the kid is watching you and emphasize how dangerous electricity is as often as needed.
BABY PROOFING YOUR KITCHEN AND BATHROOM
KITCHEN SAFETY FOR TODDLERS
The kitchen is a world full of wonders for a curious toddler. But also full of dangers. Until the baby starts to walk, we recommend restricting access to the area with a baby gate. When the gate becomes ineffective, start baby proofing your cooking environment.
Start with the cabinets and drawers. Toddlers are tempted to open them and explore the contents. To avoid injuries, restrict access to only a cupboard or two where you keep towels or oven mittens. Install adhesive mount safety latches on the other cupboards and drawers, especially if you keep dangerous products such as alcohol or detergents in them.
Always keep aluminum foil and cling film, waxed paper and plastic bags in a drawer and away from the reach of your toddler, to avoid death by suffocation.
If your kid likes to play the cook, invest in appropriate toys and never let your toddler play with real pans and pots. She may mistake them for toys while you’re cooking and burn herself by touching the hot material.
To prevent injuries by burning it is also essential to keep matches and lighters away from the reach of children. Baby proof your stove too with a stove knob cover that prevents the little one from accessing the controls of the stove.
Your baby can also learn a stove is dangerous by preventing her to touch the appliance even when it’s not in use, so don’t let your kid touch or sit on the stove.
Spices should also be stored away from the reach of children, as some products are harmful when ingested in high quantities.
You must also baby proof your garbage can by investing in an appropriate can or by keeping your trash in a locked cabinet.
BATHROOM SAFETY FOR TODDLERS
A bathroom is one of the most dangerous environments for babies. Over 10 people die from drowning each day, so keeping your bundle of joy safe in this room is essential.
According to Safe Kids, it takes as little as one inch of water for a baby to drown. Hot water and appliances such as a hair dryer can also burn the baby.
For these reasons, it is recommended to restrict access to the bathroom and never leave the child unsupervised in this environment. Keep the door closed and if necessary lock the bathroom when not in use.
Always unplug all electric appliances in the bathroom to prevent electrocuting and burns. Also, equip your faucets with anti-scalding devices that prevent the water from getting too hot.
If your toddler is big enough to bathe in the tub, use a non-slip mat to prevent slipping.
As funny as it may seem, babies can also fall into the toilet bowls, so installing seat lid locks is essential. A seat lid lock will also keep little fingers safe. For potty training, use built-in potty seats and never leave the child unattended near the toilet.
It is also essential to lock all cleansers and beauty products in a cabinet mounted on the wall and away from the reach of your toddler.
PREVENTING FALL INJURIES
Toddlers are unpredictable and they can easily get close to stairs and windows. That’s why a good baby proofing of your home should include baby proofing both stairs and windows.
As far as the stairs are involved, restricting access is easy with baby gates. Also, install Plexiglas barriers along railings and banisters to prevent accidental falling.
When it comes to windows, restrict access as much as possible. Don’t leave the kid unattended in the proximity of an open window even if there is an insect screen on. Insect screens can’t withstand the weight of a baby.
If your windows don’t have locks, install window guards that are childproof but easy for an adult to remove. If the windows have locks, don’t be afraid to use them to lock the windows before leaving the room.
BABY PROOFING YOUR OUTDOORS
Your toddler will probably love the garden or yard as much as you do, so don’t forget about this place when baby proofing your home. As most homeowners, you probably embellish your garden with flowers and plants. When a baby arrives, it’s important to make sure they are all edible, or at least harmless if eaten.
Restrict access to ponds and fountains with decorative fences and gates that lock. Access to garden faucets also has to be restricted.
Make sure all outdoor play structures are appropriate for the age of your child and don’t leave your infant or toddler play unsupervised. Some structures like garden houses can attract insects including wasps, so make sure you check the structures before letting your baby play with them.
Backyards are typically safer than front yards because they are usually located at a distance from roads and moving vehicles. But if a front yard is all you have, make sure you baby proof it with high fences and a locking gates.
Restrict access to driveways and if necessary, create a delimited playground enclosing a space with fences and a gate. This will keep your baby away from roads and will give you more peace of mind.
BABY PROOFING YOUR POOL
Fun time by the pool is enjoyed by both parents and babies during summer. If you’re lucky enough to have a pool in your yard, however, you’ll have to baby proof it.
The easiest way to do this is with a child-safe pool fence with a self-closing gate. Put a lock on the gate for greater peace of mind. Cover the pool when not in use and make sure your baby is always wearing a life jacket while entertaining near water.
Regarding hot tubs, your baby should never go near them. The water in a hot tub is too hot for a baby and the bubbles won’t bring any benefit to your little one. Only use the hot tub while the child is supervised by someone else.
Turn the hot tub off and unplug it when not in use. Inflatable hot tubs come with covers that do an excellent job in keeping the babies away from the water when the tub is not in use. It is indicated you find a way to cover a traditional hot tub too or drain the water before leaving it unattended.
BABY PROOFING TIPS & TRICKS
Apart from everything mentioned above, there are dozens of other things to think of when baby proofing your home. Here are some of the most important.
1. BABY PROOF YOUR FURNITURE
Some furniture is extremely dangerous for a growing baby. Maybe you love contemporary furniture made of glass. Or perhaps you love straight lines and wood. But the aesthetics of your home is less important than the safety of your baby.
If you’re planning to have a baby before decorating your home, invest in furniture with rounded corners and objects. Otherwise, baby proof all corners and edges with corner cushions and edge guards.
Secure closets and armoires to the wall to prevent them from falling. Avoid investing in furniture with detachable shelves or remove all shelves that your baby could grab, at least until the kid is old enough to understand the risks.
You should also remove all objects that can break, all heavy objects that can provoke injuries if they fall on the baby’s hands or feet, and all tiny objects that pose a choking hazard.
2. BABY PROOF YOUR WALLS
Whether it’s wall art or a mirror, anything that hangs on a wall should be placed high enough to stay out of the baby’s reach. Any heavy object should be secured to the wall with bolts and security wall hangers, to prevent accidental falls.
If you have a fireplace, restrict access with fireplace safety locks and keep all tools away from the child’s reach.
3. BABY PROOF YOUR DOORS
A clear distinction should be made between the front door and the doors inside the house. As far as the interior doors are concerned, you want to keep them open at all times as this helps you keep an eye on the baby from any room.
There are many simple devices that can keep interior doors open and the best way to restrict access is with baby gates.
The only exception is the bathroom door that should be locked when the bathroom is not in use.
When it comes to the front door, you want to keep it locked to prevent toddlers from going outside or opening to strangers. There are doorknob covers that prevent babies from opening the door even if it is not actually locked.
Baby proofing your home is a complex but important. Don’t underestimate the determination of a toddler and don’t think that bad things can’t happen to you. Just follow the tips above to baby proof all areas in and around your home.
While it’s impossible to prevent all injuries, baby proofing can help you save your baby’s life!