A solid babyproofing plan can help keep your baby safe from common hazards at home, but babyproofing can feel overwhelming when you already have a million-and-one things to think about as a new mom. Here's a simple room-by-room guide that is totally doable.
Your home may look relatively danger-free (if a little bit cluttered)—until you start to look at it from the viewpoint of your baby. Once she becomes mobile, your little one will likely uncover hidden dangers that may not be obvious to you.
Related: How Safe is Your Baby's Nursery?
"Preventable injuries are the leading cause of death for children," says Kate Carr, president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide. "Thinking about the layout of your home and the layers of protection you can take is essential." Need a little help thinking like a baby and finding potential sources of danger? Our safety experts, Josh Berliant of Baby Solutions, Bob Carter of Prepare First, and Carr, give us the scoop on possible pitfalls—and the best solutions.
Your newborn may not be getting into much trouble, but experts advise minimizing safety hazards before she becomes mobile (usually between four and five months). Before going out and buying a bunch of child safety locks and gadgets, Carter suggests first asking yourself the following questions:
- What hazards are applicable to your baby at her current stage of development?
- What are the potential sources of serious injury and minor boo-boos?
- What areas of the home will your baby really be spending time in—and which rooms can you close off?
- What hazards can you address simply by removing them from where your baby will be?
Mapping Out a Game Plan
Tackling key areas of the home, room by room, makes the task of babyproofing a bit more manageable—and a lot less daunting. Start with the rooms where your baby will be spending most of her time, especially rooms where you may be distracted while you're watching her, such as the kitchen. Make sure you have the key hotspots for each room covered.
- Move hot liquids, like your morning cup of coffee, out of your baby's reach, and consider using travel mugs to minimize the chance for spills.
- When cooking, turn pot handles inward and whenever possible, move pots to the back burners.
- Store cleaning supplies and chemicals in a locked cabinet—preferably, one of the top cabinets.
- Program the phone number for Poison Control (800-222-1222) on your cell phone, in the event of an emergency.
- Set your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit to minimize the chances of scalding.
- Never leave your baby in the bathtub unattended; kids can drown in as little as one inch of water. "Many people think drowning is noisy, but if your child is face-down in the tub, you may not hear them," says Carr.
- Use toilet seat locks to prevent future potty trainers from playing with toilet water or flushing their favorite loveys and clogging the toilet.
- Secure dressers, bookcases and freestanding television sets by anchoring them to the wall. This minimizes toppling hazards, especially when your baby is learning to pull to stand or starting to climb.
- Keep small objects (stray buttons, loose change, earrings, etc.) locked away in bedside tables and nightstands. The same goes for medications, which should be kept in child-proof—not child-resistant—containers, in locked cabinets.
- When you're changing batteries in flashlights, phones, music players and other electronic devices, recycle the old batteries immediately. "Even when not in use, coin-sized lithium batteries still contain a significant charge that is potentially hazardous if swallowed," says Carr.
- Reduce the risks of bumps and bruises for your cruising toddler by cushioning hard corners of coffee tables, end tables, and fireplaces with foam corner guards.
- Mount flat-panel televisions onto the wall or secure them to a piece of furniture to prevent toppling.
- Consider relocating floor plants whose shiny leaves and flowers may appeal to curious babies and toddlers.
- When entertaining family and friends in your home, make sure that their bags and purses are placed well out of reach, as they may contain small, hazardous items. "Kids can easily find a pill that has fallen onto the floor," notes Carr.
- Remove any soft items in your baby's crib to reduce the risk of suffocation. This includes crib bumpers, stuffed animals, and loveys and blankets.
- During colder weather, consider an infant sleep sack in lieu of extra bedding.
- Adjust the height of your baby's crib mattress as she grows to prevent her from standing up and falling out.
- Be very careful where you place your baby's crib. If your crib must be under a window, invest in a window guard to prevent toddlers from pushing out a window screen.
- Replace corded blinds with cordless ones to prevent strangulation.