Babies don’t stay in one place (i.e., on their backs in Moses baskets) for long. Prepare yourself — and your space— for a tot on the move by babyproofing your home from top to bottom. These expert tips will ensure you’ve covered all the bases.
Get on the ground
Every home is different, with different potential hazards. According to Amber Kroeker, child injury-prevention program coordinator at a children’s hospital, the best place to start with babyproofing is on the floor — literally. “Get down on your belly or hands and knees or any other position that will allow you to see things from your baby’s perspective,” she tells SheKnows. From here, you’ll be able to see choking hazards (those random items that end up under the couch), fall hazards, burn risks and so on.
Keep danger up & away
Store all medications, cleaning products and other potential poisons up high or behind a locked cabinet. “Think ‘up and away’,” says Kroeker. “And don’t forget those laundry pods that look like candy!”
Strip your table
Remove tablecloths, advises pediatrician S. Daniel D. Ganjian. “Toddlers can pull them and cause cups and plates to come crashing down,” he tells SheKnows.
Affix baby locks to all drawers containing knives or sharp objects, and child caps to electrical outlets (alternatively, go for pre-childproofed electrical outlets, which slide sideways to let you access the electricity). While you’re at it, fit window locks or bars (kids can climb up on the couch to get access to the window), toilet seat locks (to prevent drowning but also to keep your toothbrush out of the toilet), oven locks and stove knob covers. Get a lock on your garbage too, says Ganjian. “You won’t ever have to worry about finding your cell phone in the trash because your youngster wants to copy you ‘cleaning up.’”
Make sure you choose safety locks for drawers and cabinets that are strong enough to survive constant pulling and tugging from infants, Clint Harp, dad, author, craftsman and spokesperson for Safety 1st Highest Standard in Safety, tells SheKnows. Also, ensure all locks and latches are correctly installed.
“Believe it or not, the bathroom is the most dangerous room in a home,” says Harp. “The best way to keep young children out of the bathroom is with an exterior lock on the door.”
Reduce climbing risks
Kids love to climb, but they won’t stop to do a risk assessment before they scale your bookshelf or dresser. Anchor televisions and any piece of furniture over 30 inches high to the wall.
“One of the most important safety measures is to securely strap furniture to a wall to prevent it from falling forward,” says Harp. “Nothing is more interesting to a toddler than a television. And they will touch it! The most secure strap should have a 3-point configuration to anchor the TV to furniture and to the wall.”
Fence off areas of danger
Install gates at the top and bottom of stairs and fence off all dangerous areas. “Falls are the leading cause of nonfatal injuries in children, resulting in about 2.8 million emergency department visits each year,” J.B. Sassano, president of repair, maintenance and improvement franchise Mr. Handyman, tells SheKnows. “Prevent accidents by installing safety gates that bolt to the wall rather than the traditional pressure-mounted models.”
Be aware of hidden hazards
Use cord keepers and blind winders to keep infants safe from cords from electronics and those dangling from blinds and shades. The Consumer Product Safety Commission lists cords and strings as hidden hazards for babies.
Assess your outdoor space
Don’t forget about outside areas, warns Sassano. Sand any splinters, remove or fix any loose nails, repair any rotting wood or ropes holding swings. Look out for hidden bees, hornets and wasps’ nests.
“If you have a pool, install a gate around it with an automatic closing and locking mechanism,” pediatrician Dr. Gina Posner tells SheKnows. “For extra security, you can also have alarm sensors at the doors to the pool.”
Monitor smoke detectors
Check all smoke detectors once a month, replace smoke detector batteries twice a year, and invest in a carbon monoxide detector if you don’t already have one.
Remember: Babyproofing should not replace supervision. “By using childproofing products, you are buying time, which could be the difference between tragedy and a close call,” said Kroeker. “There is no way to 100 percent childproof your home. Don’t forget that children require active supervision at all times.”
Kroeker also recommends that all parents learn CPR. “This is a simple task that can save your baby’s life,” she said. Contact the American Red Cross, American Heart Association or your local fire department to find out about training.