The Baby-Safe Home

Simple at-home strategies to keep your baby safe.


Keep your baby healthy and safe at every age and stage with simple at-home strategies, says Debra Smiley Holtzman, author of The Safe Baby: A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Home Safety (Sentient, 2005). "Try to start thinking about what you're going to need at the next stage before you need it because it comes on so quickly," she says. "You don't have to have the baby gate up when your infant comes home, but you want to have everything handy so you're ready for the next milestone." Newborns and Infants (Start: Day 1)

  • Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors or test existing ones.
  • Always use provided safety restraints on changing tables, swings and bouncy seats to prevent babies from falling off or out.
  • Use snug-fitting crib sheets and avoid soft or loose bedding.
  • Put your baby to sleep on her back, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, and remove all loose bedding materials (blankets, pillows and stuffed toys) until she is at least 1 year old.
  • Gate the nursery to prevent animals and siblings from entering.
  • Keep small, easily swallowed objects away from baby.
  • Lower water heater temperature to 120 F or consider anti-scald devices for tubs.

Creeping to Crawling (Start: at 5 Months)

  • Install baby gates at the top and bottom of staircases and other off-limits spaces, such as pet areas.
  • Remove crib mobile.
  • Install electrical outlet covers.
  • Lock up all medications, cleaning products and chemicals.
  • Use safety latches to keep baby out of drawers or cabinets containing sharp objects.
  • Keep all drapery and blind cords out of reach and cut looped ones.
  • Use angle braces or anchors to secure large furniture items thatpose a tipping hazard.
  • Crawl around each room to determine what baby can reach.

Pulling up and Walking (Start: at 8 Months)

  • Lower the crib mattress to the lowest position.
  • Install safety locks on toilets.
  • Install deadbolts or no-turn handle covers on doors that lead outside; put locks on sliding glass doors.
  • Attach corner and edge protectors to furniture and fireplace hearths.
  • Move breakables from baby's reach.
  • Install guards on stove knobs.
  • Consider window guards or stopping devices and quick-release mechanisms for fire exits.
  • Use appliance locks.
  • Remove small magnets (a choking hazard) from refrigerator.
  • Unplug hair dryers, electric razors, curling irons and other devices when not in use.