So you’re expecting a baby and you’re super excited. You’re probably thinking about all of the wonderful new memories you’ll make. The cute giggles, the smiles. The tiny baby clothes. You’re thrilled to meet the new being you’re about to bring into this world. But while all of that exhilaration is bubbling in your head, you’re probably experiencing some anxiety as well.
Taking care of a baby is a huge responsibility and many parents worry about keeping their child safe — even within the confines of their own home. When babies are trying to learn about the world, they can really hurt themselves the moment you turn a blind eye. If you’re extremely concerned about your baby’s safety in your house, take a deep breath; we got you. Here’s the ultimate checklist for you to make sure your home is in tip-top baby safety shape.
Disclaimer: This Security Baron Guide does not provide medical advice. The content provided here is informational in nature and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for speaking with a physician/medical professional and should not be relied upon solely for ensuring your safety. If you think you are having an emergency, please call your local emergency services.
Why You Should Childproof
While it’s impossible to protect your child from all the dangers of the world, it’s a good idea to prevent as many unnecessary boo boos as possible. Baby proofing will save you some tears and potential trips to the doctor. More than a third of child injuries and death occur at home, according to an article from KidsHealth.org. The major causes of these fatal accidents include:
Remember: once your child begins to start moving on their own, they’ll be crawling all over the house, holding onto furniture, playing with shiny objects and putting random stuff in their mouths. Babies are just naturally curious and it’s hard not to love that look of wonder in their eyes; you just don’t want that innocent curiosity to cause them serious harm.
What Does Baby Proofing Cost?
When it comes to childproofing a home, everyone has their own preferences. There are parents who buy all of the latest baby safety gear and who make sure they cover every potential hazard. And there are parents who just want to make sure they have the major concerns addressed and not the dangers that are less likely to happen. This is understandable considering that baby proofing can be expensive depending on the structure of your home. Some houses have multiple floors and staircases where a baby can get seriously injured. Some houses have pools where kids can drown. Some houses have more hardwood floors where a child can fall and hurt their head. The list is endless.
According to a guide from Fixr, the average cost to childproof a home in America is about $1,270. Some families can spend up to $2,000 or more depending on their preferences and needs. How much you childproof your home also depends on the personality of your baby. Some kids are more daring than others and are more likely to put themselves in danger. Regardless of what you choose to do, we’re going to show you all the potential hazards that you should cover. That way when it’s time to make your checklist, you take what applies to your home and proceed knowing you’ve developed the best strategy to keep your baby safe.
How to Start Childproofing
First things first: get on your hands and knees. That’s right. The first thing we’re going to ask you to do is to crawl around the house like a baby.Why? When we become adults, we forget what it’s like to see the world through an infant’s eyes. So to truly understand what could be a potential hazard for your kid, you have to see at their level.
So if you can, crawl around every room and see what sort of things your child could get into.
Take your kitchen, for example. Once you get on all fours, you might notice how many cupboards and drawers are easily accessible. This can be dangerous for babies who get into the poisonous cleaning supplies under the sink. If you have raised cupboards— meaning cupboards where loose bits of food and dust bunnies like to hang out— you might find that you’ve got some cleaning to do. Don’t want to leave anything that your child could choke on.
If you’re crawling around your the living room, you might bump in your coffee table. For little humans who are just learning to walk, these can be super dangerous. They can easily walk or fall into the table’s sharp edges. These are just a few hazards to take note of, but let’s give you the full checklist so you can make sure you’ve got everything covered.
Baby Hazards to Look Out For
While you’re cruising around your abode, look out for these red flags.
Children who are learning to move around can be extremely clumsy around stairs. This means they can fall and injure themselves. Depending on the design of the stairs, they can also slip through railings that have wide enough openings or get a body part stuck between them.
Anything That Holds Water
Drowning is the second-leading injury-related death for children after vehicle crashes, according an article from the National Safety Council. Note how many toilets, low-level sinks, bathtubs or pools your kid might accidentally slip in to.
Electrical Outlets and Chords
If your baby is sucking their fingers and then decides to stick their wet hands into an electrical socket, they are at risk for electrocution. Electrocution can also occur if a child is playing with any metal object and tries to “plug” something in like they saw mommy or daddy doing with the other day. In addition, babies like to chew on things like electrical chords. Notice if you have any that are exposed.
Doors, Cabinets, and Drawers
You don’t want to make it easy for any child to open doors and cabinets. Sometimes kids can hurt themselves if a door closes on them. Cabinets and drawers can contain a whole bunch of objects that you probably don’t want your child playing with either — particularly in the kitchen. The last thing you want is for your baby to get their hands on a knife or some other dangerous item.
Sharp Edges and Corners
Babies fall a lot and that’s okay. That’s part of them learning how to get from A to B. However, this learning period can be very treacherous for children if there are a lot of sharp and pointy pieces furniture around. Coffee tables are one of the main culprits, because if a kid falls on one of those corners, you might need to take them to the hospital.
Fireplaces, Heaters, and Ovens
Severe burns can kill a child, so it’s important that you are aware of where your fireplaces, heaters and ovens are so you can set up protective barriers. It’s also important to be aware of your boiler settings and how hot the water can get in your house. If an infant happens to turn on a faucet, there’s a chance they can get scalded by hot water.
Matches and Candles
You might think that your baby wouldn’t have the dexterity to light a match, but it’s possible. Do you know where you keep them? Are they in reach? In terms of candles:wWill your baby be crawling where she could potentially knock over one over and start a fire? Even if it’s not lit, your child could chew on a candle and choke on the wax.
Unfortunately, suffocation is the leading cause of unintentional deaths for children under the age of 4, according to the Childhood Injury Report written by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Look out for cords of any kind: curtain or blind cords, baby monitor cords. A child can get caught up in those and choke themselves.
When your kid starts wandering around the house, look out for loose items that might be a risk to your child like small toys, nuts and bolts or batteries. While your child is sleeping in a crib, be careful not to place pillows or thick blankets that could suffocate them. Their crib must be properly set up as well. If a child is sleeping in a crib that is improperly assembled, the child can pass through gaps of loose components and strangle themselves.
If you have windows that are relatively low, you want to make sure your kid is not likely to fall outside.
Top-heavy furniture can also be dangerous if your baby is beginning to stand up and hold on to things. Look out for bookcases, drawer chests, standing lamps, non-mounted televisions…anything that could topple over and potentially hurt your kid. Even easy-to-reach photo frames are dangerous. They can fall over, shatter and cause injury.
Trash and Recycle Cans
We put a lot of junk in trash cans you don’t want your kid getting into. If your baby happens to knock over the trash they might make a big mess. But the biggest worry are dangerous objects like broken glass and the sharp lids you pull off aluminum cans.
Medication and Cleaning Supplies
If your medicines, vitamins and cleaning agents are easily accessible, your child is at risk of poisoning themselves.
Harmful Tools and Weapons
Know where your toolkits and/or weapons are. It’s important that they stay clear away from your child to avoid any accidents.
How to Baby Proof Your House Room by Room
Okay. You can stop crawling on your knees now. We’ve covered a lot of ground and, at this point, it looks like you could have a lot of baby proofing to do. If you’re overwhelmed, no worries. Let’s walk you through some room-by-room solutions.
- Remove sharp edged coffee tables or buy corner guards: Some parents don’t even want to mess with coffee tables when they have a child so they get rid of it until their kid gets older or the buy one that’s round. If you want to keep your coffee table for decor, you can get edge and corner guards at your local hardware store. Also note if your coffee table is made of non-tempered glass. Non-tempered glass shatters easily and so you might want to replace it with a tempered glass table.
- Cover any fireplaces: While the fire’s burning, make sure your fireplace is covered with a heat resistant gate. When it’s not, be aware that kids can still hurt themselves on stony hearths. So it might be useful to buy pads for the edges. Fire stoking tools are also dangerous so stow them away.
- Replace candles with LED lighting and put away those matches: If you don’t want to give up the evening candlelight glow, you can find some flameless LED candles that flicker just like the real thing.
- Mount televisions and any picture frames: If they are up and away, your baby won’t be tempted to play! Nice slogan, right?
- Make sure remote have battery covers: Let’s be honest, most of us break or lose these battery covers over time. But if you have a baby, it’s really important that there isn’t a risk for loose batteries rolling around. Make sure the covers are always on your remotes, or if you’re missing one, use the good old tape solution.
- Cover power outlets and hide power cords: If you have outlets in the house that you don’t really use, make sure to get those plastic outlet safety covers. But outlets that are in-use are also a danger because some babies will yank those things right out the wall, so hide them. Place furniture in front of the cords so your child can’t pull on them.
- Replace blind and curtain cords: If you have old-school blinds, you can cut them and get child-safe breakaway tassels. Or you can just replace your blinds altogether and get cordless shades.
- Secure cabinets and drawers: Magnetic lock systems or plastic sliding locks are great for this.
- Put away small toys: Round or cylindrical objects that are less than one inch in diameter can choke a child. Small square objects also pose a threat so try to keep those away from kids that are younger than five.
- Check that the crib is set up safely: It’s important to make sure that the child will not get trapped in any part of the crib. Never use a crib that’s 10 years or older, broken or shoddily put together. Check to make sure that there’s no gaps larger than two fingers between the sides of the crib and the mattress. Also make sure the crib is not next to any blind cords.
- Install window guards: If you are going to open the windows in the room, don’t open them more than three inches high. Or, you can buy some window guards to protect your child from falling out the house.
- Secure top-heavy furniture with safety straps: Bedrooms tend to be the homes for dressers and drawers chests. If you have these, consider using furniture anchors or anti tip straps to keep things from toppling.
- Stow away weapons: Many people hide very personal items in their bedrooms. Sometimes those items include weapons. If this is you, it’s important that these items be locked away very, very carefully. Research from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia says that 89% of unintentional shooting deaths among kids occur in the home. Many of these happen because they were playing with a gun they found while their parents were away.
- Consider gating your kitchen: The kitchen is full of appliances and utensils that could potentially hurt your child. If you are really worried about the risks, place a gate at the door.
- Install locks on cabinets and major appliances: You don’t want your baby crawling around your cleaning supply cabinet or eating the detergent out of the dishwasher. Refrigerators should be secured if they are easy to open and make sure that the items in the fridge are organized in a way where nothing can fall and hit your child if they do open it. Make sure ovens are secured so your baby can avoid burns.
- Remove stove knobs: If you take these off when you aren’t cooking, your kid won’t be able to start any fires.
- Buy a trash can with sliding locks: This is also helpful if you have any troublesome pets who are looking for a scrap to eat.
- Sweep under cabinets and cupboards: If food or other items get lost beneath your cupboards, try to clean that area on weekly basis so your child doesn’t find something to choke on.
- Consider leaving one cabinet open for you child: Okay, we said that you should lock all of your cabinets, but sometimes it’s fun to watch your baby play with some pots and pans. It’s okay to have a cabinet with baby-safe kitchenware so that your kid can play. That way they’ll be less drawn to the more dangerous stuff in the room.
- Lock the toilets: Babies can tip head-first into toilet bowls and drown when they are left open.
- Put a slip-resistant mat and in the bathtub: This way they won’t slip and fall when they are moving about the bath. Soft faucet covers are also a nice touch so that your baby won’t hurt themselves too much if bang their head on them.
- Check boiler settings: Make sure your water heater does not heat the water more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. You can also put anti-scalding devices on faucets to prevent the water from suddenly getting too hot if someone flushes the toilet.
- Lock away your medicine: Your pill bottle may say that it’s “child-resistant”, but that doesn’t mean that it’s childproof. Medicine cases earn that “child-resistant” label if less than 20 percent of children are able to open the case within 10 minutes, according to a guide from the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission. If your baby is in that 20 percent who can open the bottles, they are at risk of poisoning themselves.
- Install gates: This is crucial that you install hardware-mounted gates at the top of the staircase to prevent your child from falling down the stairs. If you install a pressure-mounted gate, the child could still potentially get through it. Those could still work at the bottom of the stairs if you really don’t want your baby to try to climb up the staircase.
- Put up a banister guards: Some staircases have banisters where kids can slip through the railings. Guards will prevent that from happening.
- Cover outlets if you can’t cover or hide them: Depending on the setup in your home office, you might not be able to hide all the outlets with big pieces of furniture. And if you are using the outlets, you won’t be able to use those nifty child safe covers. In that case, you can order a twin door outlet box online and save yourself the headache of rearranging your office.
- Cover power strips and duct tape cables: If you have power strips laying around, your child might be tempted to play with everything that’s plugged in it. To prevent that from happening, buy a power strip cover. For any exposed cables running along the floor or the walls, you can duct tape them so your baby can’t yank them.
- Keep dangerous items out of reach: Sharp items like pens, pencils, staplers and scissors need to be stored either high up on your desk where your child can’t touch them. Or better yet: Store them in a drawer with a child safe lock.
- Watch out for your super hot coffee or tea: Coffee spills happen all of the time, but make sure your child is far away from any potential scalding accidents. Or make sure your hot beverage is placed in an area where it will not get knocked over.
- Consider getting a playpen: If you are working in your home office with your baby in the room, chances are you are going to be a bit distracted — not only from your work, but from watching your kid. If you can’t get someone to watch your baby, consider buying a playpen so at least you know that your child will remain in a safe area.
- Secure spray bottles: You might like to treat your clothes with a pre-wash spray or a bleach spritz, which is all good and dandy. Just be aware that kids love playing with spray bottles. Make sure you put them on the “lock” setting when you are done using them or put them away completely.
- Avoid using laundry scoops: If you can take laundry scoops out of the picture, that would be the best scenario. Babies think they look like toys and are not afraid of licking them. So chuck the scoops or keep them out of sight.
- Make sure liquid detergents are out of reach: Sometimes detergents come in fun, enticing colors and babies think it might be a good idea to drink them. Don’t tempt your child. Put the detergents high up on a shelf or in a secure cupboard.
- Beware of the pods: Detergent pods kind of look like gummy bear mattresses, which means that babies often think they are something to eat. Make sure they are out of reach, too.
- Create soft surfaces for play: Plant grass, install fake grass or padded foam. Concrete and brick are not the best surfaces for your child to fall on. And do not use pea gravel in your yard, as it’s a choking hazard for babies.
- Remove any dangerous plants: Consult a horticulturist to see if your yard has any of the following: toxic plants, prickly plants or plants that bear fruit such as berries or olives (again, choking hazard).
- Think about growing edible plants like vegetables, fruits or herbs: Children want to discover the world. Think how fun it would be for them to discover the fruits of the earth.
- Check that any playground equipment is sturdy: You don’t want any injuries from anything breaking apart or falling over.
- Use sand in fire pits: Many people use glass bits in pits. But kids can be drawn to the sheen of the glass, which can choke them if ingested.
- Keep the garden hose out of the sun: When that hose sits in the sun, the water can heat up so much that it can scald a child.
- Cushion and pad outdoor furniture: We don’t want your kid running into any sharp edges.
- Cover your pool: If you have a pool or any sort of body of water, make sure it’s either covered when you are not using it or there is a five foot tall barrier so your kid has no chance of falling in.
Other Useful Baby Proofing Devices
Besides the locks, latches, covers and gates to keep your child out of trouble, there are some other devices that can help you keep tabs on your baby’s safety:
- Install smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms: These are just good to have for everyone in the house and prevent any injuries or death caused by fire or poisoning. To explore some options, check out our list of the top smoke and CO monitors of 2019.
- Use a baby monitor or security camera: If there is ever a time when you are not in the same room as your child, you need a way to keep an eye on them. Thankfully, there are lot of cameras out there that offer live streaming even come with baby cry detection and breath monitoring technology. Check out our lists of the best baby monitors and the best security cameras of 2019!
- Set up door stoppers: You don’t want your kid’s fingers and toes to get crushed by closing doors. Consider putting stoppers throughout the house. Of course, we picked out our favorite door stoppers of the year.
How to Baby Proof Away from Home
So now your home is all proofed-up and ready for your newborn child…but have you considered what you would do if you took your baby to someone else’s house? Not everywhere you go is a child-safe environment. If you ever find yourself in that situation, you keep your eyes open for potential risks:
- Make sure there aren’t any choking hazards
- Be wary of items that can break
- Watch out for sharp edges and corners
- Keep your kid clear of any dangerous chemicals or medication
While you can’t necessarily change someone else’s home, it’s important to just keep track of your child and what dangers they could get themselves into. If you have a major concern about your child’s safety, it’s best you speak politely with your host to see how you can resolve the situation and make the visit pleasant for everyone.
When Can I Remove Baby Proofing?
Having a childproof home is great, right? Once your house is hooked up, you can be confident your child is going to be safe. However, baby proofing devices can seem rather inconvenient at times to the grown adult. Who wants to open and close safety gates all of the time? Well luckily, you don’t have to childproof your house forever, but there is no real agreement as to when to start taking things down.
Some parents start taking down the gates when their kids turn three years old, but keep the furniture straps. Some parents don’t see the need to keep the latches and locks on all of the cabinets and drawers. Some parents want to leave those latches and locks until their kid is five or older. Observing your child is the key to making this decision. If you find that your kid is more reckless in certain areas in the house, then it might be best to keep the safety measures in place, until they learn more about their own personal safety.
Remember: The Key to Optimum Baby Safety is You!
So there you have it: The ultimate checklist for baby proofing your home. While you can deck out your home in all the best baby-proofing gear — if that’s what you choose to do — there’s nothing can replace the best protection measure of all: supervision.
As a parent, it’s really important that you keep an eye over your kids and stay present while doing so. Try not to be on the phone or be too distracted with other tasks when you are watching your kid. Or if you are a bit preoccupied, as another family member or a friend to be with your child. The love and attention you give your kid is the best thing you can do to keep your child safe. As they grow up, they will learn from you. And then hopefully one day, you won’t have to worry about them at all….but who are we kidding, right?