How to Childproof Your Home
Basics of Childproofing
Childproofing your home is an essential part of preparing for the arrival of a new baby or toddler. Anchoring furniture, softening sharp corners and repairing damaged fixtures while wondering if you overlooked any other hazards can be quite overwhelming. Thankfully, it only takes a little planning and a few handy tips to make the babyproofing process simple and stress-free.
This post offers helpful information and practical tips to guide you through the childproofing process. We’ll start by answering important questions like:
Once you understand the basics, keep reading for room-by-room safety suggestions like:
- Everyday cleanliness and general maintenance
- Keeping kitchens safe
- Minimizing dangers in the dining room
- What to watch for in bathrooms
- Making your living room and bedrooms safe for play and sleep
- Special considerations for a safe and comfy nursery
- Blocking off hallways and stairs
- Avoiding accidents and injuries in garages and outdoor spaces
What is Childproofing?
Childproofing involves changing the layout of each room to make your home safer for small kids. The process includes everything from moving heavy and fragile objects out of reach to covering electrical outlets, doorknobs and sharp furniture edges. As your child continues to grow and explore their environment, you’ll have to adjust your baby-proof design to protect against new hazards.
When to Begin Childproofing Your Home
It’s hard to find the time or energy for extensive household upkeep while caring for a new child, so it’s a good idea to childproof your home long before your little one arrives. Expecting parents can start removing potential hazards from the nursery before their baby is even born. However, you’ll need to reassess your safety measures once your child begins to crawl.
How to Identify Potential Hazards
The best way to find potential hazards in your home is to look at your layout from your child’s perspective. Get down onto the floor so you can see things from your kid’s level and take note of all the safety risks within your little one’s reach. From this angle, you’re likely to notice hazards like exposed outlets, splintering wood fixtures, pointed table edges and toxic household cleaners.
Getting Started with Babyproofing
With so many childproofing products on the market today, it can be difficult for new parents to know where to begin. Rather than splurging on all the newest innovations and high-tech safety solutions, start with the basics to make sure your home is ready for your little one. Select essential items like:
- Locks and Safety Latches: Childproof locks and safety latches prevent your little one from opening cabinets, drawers and fridges, ensuring that chemicals, choking hazards and other dangerous household items stay out of reach. While these safety locks can withstand your toddler’s curious little fingers, you can still access these storage pieces whenever you need to.
- Window Guards: An adjustable window guard prevents your child from falling out of open windows. Many of these lifesaving safety mechanisms also have a quick-release feature that lets you remove the grate and open the window for emergency evacuations.
- Safety Gates: Once your little one starts crawling or walking, they may start to wander into potentially dangerous parts of your home like stairs, kitchens and bathrooms. Childproof gates block off these areas to keep your adventurous child out.
- Electrical Outlet Covers: Exposed outlets post several risks to young children. Fiddling with sockets and power sources can result in electrical shocks, house fires and other serious injuries. Removable outlet covers protect your little one while making it easy to manage plugs and cords.
- Corner Guards: Children often get hurt while playing near coffee tables and sofas with sharp corners. Foam corner guards cover the points and edges on your furniture, making your layout softer and safer.
- Furniture Anchors: Babies often grab on to chairs and tables for support when they’re learning to stand and walk. If these furnishings are unstable, they may tip over and fall on your child. Use furniture anchors to lock down heavy items like end tables, coffee tables and TV stands.
Your regular housekeeping routine is part of the childproofing process as well. Sweeping and vacuuming your floors gets rid of choking hazards, while locking up household cleaners after use keeps your child from ingesting them. Additionally, taking heavy lamps, vases and decorations off your walls and tables reduces the likelihood that these objects will fall on your little one.
Along with keeping your home clean and clutter-free, you can rearrange your layout and add a few fixtures to your space to restrict your child’s access to hazardous items and areas. For example:
Cords and Outlets
Fiddling with electrical outlets can result in painful or even fatal shocks, while playing with power cords poses a serious strangulation risk. As such, guarding these fixtures is a crucial part of babyproofing your home. Place socket guards over lamp, TV and appliance plugs to prevent your kid from sticking fingers and toys into the outlets. Also, arrange furniture to keep your baby away from the cords.
As your baby learns to walk and climb onto furniture, windows become another potential safety hazard. Use window guards to minimize the risk of your baby falling out of open windows. Or, move furniture away from the windows to prevent your little one from reaching them. Lastly, switch from blinds and long drapes to shorter cordless curtains to reduce suffocation and strangulation risks.
Childproofing Common Areas
Once your baby becomes a toddler and starts exploring their environment, ensuring that every room in your home is safe becomes vital. Rearranging furniture and installing new safeguards lets you protect your baby from the potential hazards in each area. Take a look at some tips on childproofing all your rooms.
Hot stoves, sharp knives and electrical appliances are prevalent in kitchens, so it’s important to limit your child’s access to this room. Set up a safety gate to keep your baby out of the kitchen while you’re cooking. To prevent dishes from falling on your little one as they crawl around, be sure to store plates, cups, silverware and serving dishes in a china cabinet when not in use.
Remember to add childproof locks to your kitchen cabinets, ovens, refrigerators and drawers to keep your curious kids away from hazardous objects and chemicals. In case of fires, make sure that your kitchen has a functional, up-to-date fire extinguisher within 30 ft. of your stove.
When choosing dining room furniture, consider pieces with rounded edges instead of sharp corners. Even if you prefer square and rectangle tables, you can use protective corner guards to reduce injury when children bump into them. Keep breakable dishware in buffets and sideboards when not in use and use straps or bungee cables to keep dining chairs and tables from tipping over.
The tiniest bit of water can cause your baby to slip or drown, so it’s important to babyproof your bathrooms. Place locks on your toilet seats, sink spouts and bathtub faucets to protect your baby from accidental injuries. You should also repair damaged or leaky pipes quickly to avoid flooding and lower your water heater temperature to prevent accidental scalding during bath time.
Other bathroom safety features include nonslip mats that keep your little one from falling on the floor or in the shower. It’s important to make sure all medications and cosmetics are in childproof cabinets and medicine cabinets as well. Lastly, keep the Poison Control contact information on hand in case your child accidentally ingests bathroom cleaners or medications.
Fasten heavy living room furniture to the wall to keep couches and wall-mounted entertainment centers from tipping over. Place padding and covers on table and chair edges to protect your little one from hurting themselves on pointed furniture corners. You should also steer clear of fragile glass or ceramic decor and use anchors to lock large fixtures in place.
Many of the living room safety measures work on bedroom furniture as well. Use corner guards on dressers, nightstands and headboards and secure large, free-standing fixtures with wall and floor fasteners. Also, add practical storage pieces to your kids’ rooms to keep the space clean and reduce choking hazards.
When you’re choosing nursery essentials for your baby’s rooms, make sure that each item meets the latest safety standards. Select fixed-side cribs instead of drop-side cribs and make sure the side slats have proper spacing to keep kids from falling out of bed. Keep suffocation hazards like blankets, toys and loose-fitting sheets out of the crib and hang mobiles out of your little one’s reach.
Just like in your kids’ and teens’ rooms, you should keep nursery furniture away from windows and outlets and secure heavy fixtures. Also, choose changing tables with protective rails to keep babies from rolling off. Once your child learns to climb and crawl, lower their bed closer to the floor to prevent falls and use pinch guards and closures to keep them from tumbling into toy boxes and hampers.
Hallways and Stairs
High-traffic hallways present various hazards for little ones. Install doorknob locks and doorstops to keep children out of dangerous areas and use hinge guards to prevent pinches from swinging doors. To stop your baby from falling down steps, mount railings on the walls and set up locking gates at the tops and bottoms of your stairway. You can also add carpeting to the steps to soften accidental falls.
Other Parts of Your Home
Once you have all your indoor child safety measures in place, you can start babyproofing your outdoor areas. Backyards, gardens, garages and decks have a wide range of potentially hazardous features you’ll need to address to keep your little one safe. Take a look at the following suggestions for cleaning, securing and childproofing these spaces.
If you have an attached garage, install baby gates at the doorways to block your baby’s path. You’ll also want to make sure that your motorized garage door is working properly to avoid accidental door drops. To childproof your vehicles, secure motorcycles and ATVs with stands and straps, make sure your cars are locked and keep vehicle keys out of your child’s reach.
Store lighter fluid, gasoline canisters and other flammable materials away from matches and lighters. After at-home oil changes and car repairs, seal fluids in proper liquid waste containers rather than recyclable milk and water jugs. Make sure you also stow empty buckets, coolers and totes upside-down to prevent water accumulation and keep kids from crawling into open containers.
Use toolboxes and storage cabinets to keep sharp, heavy tools out of your child’s reach. After finishing home repair or construction projects, unplug power tools and disconnect their batteries. Store hammers, nails, screws and screwdrivers in locked toolboxes and use a hardware cabinet to hold larger tools. Lastly, use wall mounts to secure rakes, brooms, shovels and ladders off of the floor.
Patios, Lawns and Gardens
There are several steps you can take to create a safe and accessible backyard for your little ones. Start by removing toxic or harmful plants from your garden, then get rid of small rocks, gravel and other outdoor choking hazards. Next, soften up concrete and brick play surfaces by planting fresh grass, using artificial turf or rolling out foam padding.
If your patio layout includes a swimming pool, use covers, locked gates and fences to keep little ones from falling in. Block off other water sources like spigots and hoses to prevent accidental drowning and put away water hoses after use to avoid trips and strangulation. Even with all these safety features in place, it’s important to always supervise your kids when they play near the pool.
During backyard barbecues, make sure your child stays far away from the hot grill. Make sure to disconnect the propane tank or extinguishing the burning coals once you finish cooking. Clean and put away sharp grilling utensils after the cookout and store the grill out of reach until it cools down. Always keep your barbecue grill closed and locked when not in use.
Removing household hazards and babyproofing your space is the first step in creating a safe and happy home for your little one. Use the helpful tips in this guide to get your own childproofing process started. If you want to learn more about babyproof products and child safety guidelines, check out the following organizations and agencies: