Your baby might embody the spirit of Indiana Jones by opening up forbidden cabinets, exploring new places, and climbing onto anything they can reach, which is why baby-proofing your home is extremely important! Even if you look away for a second, your precious little one can crawl over to the stairs, bathroom, or oven. Safeguarding your home from hidden danger can give you the peace of mind that your baby is safe — wherever their little legs may take them. Below, we’ll help walk you through how to baby-proof each room in your house and when you should get the process started.
Baby-proofing your home is a lot like shopping for presents during the holidays — it’s best to get it done early! All joking aside, baby-proofing can be a huge undertaking, which is why most parents choose to do it in stages rather than all at once. Baby-proofing your home ahead of time gives you the chance to make sure you didn’t miss anything and it’s less stressful than trying to get it all done in one afternoon.
If you want to baby-proof your home in stages, here’s a rough idea of when each stage should be done by:
- Your baby can sit up: Once your baby can sit up, they might be able to grab cords from window shades and risk getting tangled up in them. Most babies begin learning how to sit up anywhere from 4-9 months.
- Your baby starts crawling: As your baby crawls along the ground they can get into cabinets where you store chemicals or put objects into outlets. Each baby is different, but many start crawling between 6-10 months.
- Your baby starts standing or cruising: Your baby might stand for the first time by holding onto your hands or grabbing onto a chair for balance. They could be seriously injured if a heavy item tips over on them while they are trying to use it to remain stable. Most babies learn to stand or cruise between 7-12 months.
- Your baby starts climbing: Stairs are like a magnet to your baby who might want to climb up the stairs or scooch down them on their rear. Most babies begin climbing anywhere from 8-12 months old.
As your baby starts to become more mobile, they’re more susceptible to injuries around the house. You can crawl on the floor to get a better perspective on what your baby can reach or anything that could be potentially harmful. Babies love to stick things in their mouths and seemingly harmless objects can quickly become choking hazards.
Pro Tip: You can create a choking hazard tester for small objects by using a cardboard toilet paper roll. Anything that fits inside should be picked up and placed out of reach.
While it's tempting to focus on baby-proofing the rooms where your baby plays most, remember that your adorable one will soon be moving at lightning speed. By baby-proofing your whole house, you'll have peace of mind knowing you're ready for all your baby's adventures.
Pro Tip: If you’re visiting someone else’s home, you can bring a playard or playpen with you so your baby has a safe place to play, relax, and sleep.
- Fire Prevention: Buy smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors. The NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) recommends installing CO detectors on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas. They also recommend installing smoke alarms both inside and outside of sleeping areas and on every level of your home, including the basement.
- Outlet Plug Covers: Babies are curious creatures. They love to stick their fingers and objects in places they shouldn’t like electrical outlets. Outlet plug covers prevent a dangerous situation from occurring.
- Secure Electrical Cords: Electrical cords and extension cords pose strangling and tripping hazards. You can buy cord covers to make sure electrical cords are covered and out of your baby’s reach.
- Flooring: Hardwood floors can be slippery. Rug gripper mats can help secure flooring so you don’t slip while holding your baby. The rug won’t slide out from beneath your baby’s feet if they’re running around the house.
- Baby Gates: Install baby gates at the top and bottom of your staircase and any rooms you don’t want them entering (like the kitchen).
- Small Items: Small items like coins can be a choking hazard. Pick up any small items off the floor, including batteries, buttons, and toys that belong to your other children. You could buy a plastic bin to keep any of your personal items on a higher shelf so they’re still within reach for you, but not accessible to your baby.
- Blinds: To prevent the possibility of choking, it's important to address the issue of hanging blind cords. One option is to utilize baby-proofing products to wind up the cords and keep them out of reach. Alternatively, you could opt for cordless blinds as another safety measure.
- Doors: As your baby grows into their toddler years, they can start to unlock doors. Worse, they can unlock the door and wander outside. Keep your doors locked and buy an additional lock (one that attaches to the top of the door so it’s out of reach). You can also try and teach your baby that it’s unsafe to play outside by themselves.
- Hot Water Settings: To prevent burns, ensure your hot water heater is set to 120 degrees or less. You can also purchase anti-scald devices for your faucets.
- Paint: If your home was built before 1978, there may be lead in the paint. If you’re pregnant, don’t remove lead paint yourself. Instead, bring in a professional or have someone else do it for you.
- Cover Radiators: Babies may be drawn to radiators and want to touch them. Cover radiators to prevent burns.
- Window Guards: Window guards prevent your baby from fully opening a window and falling out.
- Secure Kitchen Knives/Scissors: As babies begin to stand on their tiptoes, they might be able to open drawers and pull out a sharp knife. Buy child safety locks to prevent them from opening drawers.
As you baby-proof your whole house, keep in mind that each room requires special attention. Keep reading to try and make your home as safe as possible.
- Decorating: Don’t hang anything above the crib that your baby can grab and pull down, this includes window cords, posters, picture frames, etc.
- Cribs: Don’t place anything in the crib with your baby, such as crib bumpers, stuffed animals, pillows, and blankets, until they are at least 12 months old. Adding these items to the crib could increase the risk of SIDS. As your baby grows, you’ll need to lower the crib height to prevent them from falling out — or trying to escape when they’d rather play with their toys instead of going to sleep.
- Finger Pinch Guard: Prevent your baby’s fingers from getting slammed in the door. This is especially helpful if you have multiple children who might chase each other around.
- Toy Box Safety: Use a toy box without a top or one with a lightweight lid, per the AAP. Make sure the toy box has ventilation in case your child gets trapped in it.
- Furniture Anchors: Anchor furniture like dressers or bookcases to the wall to prevent them from tipping over. Remove any heavy items from on top of them. Furniture can become unstable or top-heavy if your baby climbs on it. Lock the dresser and the changing table drawers.
- Childproof Cabinet Locks: To prevent your baby from ingesting any cleaning chemicals, use cabinet locks or place cleaning chemicals up high.
- Childproof Oven Knobs: Purchase knob covers so your child doesn’t accidentally turn on the stove and burn themselves.
- Knives and Appliances: Never keep any sharp knives on the edge of the counter. Unplug appliances when not in use.
Living Room and Dining Room
- Secure Furniture: Babies are little explorers and can grab lamps and end tables. You can mount your TV to the wall, use wall clamps to secure floor lamps, and anchor bookcases to the wall.
- Electronics: TV remotes, cell phones, chargers, laptops, and tablets should all be kept out of reach. Your baby might be able to access anything on top of the living room or dining room table. You don’t want to find a smashed cell phone lying around or in the toilet!
- Sharp Edges: Use corner guards and edge protectors on sharp edges.
- Table Runners: Babies can pull down tablecloths and table runners, injuring themselves if anything heavy falls on them. You may want to keep your baby out of the dining room or put your table runner away until they get older.
Bathroom and Laundry Room
- Medication Cabinet: Use locks or latches on your medicine cabinet. Even if the medicine cabinet is up high, your baby could stand on the toilet or sink and gain access to it.
- Secure Detergent: Make sure your detergent is locked or out of reach on a higher shelf. Some detergents are available in child-resistant packaging. It’s still a good idea to keep this out of reach too.
- Washers and Dryers: Put locks on front-loading washers and dryers.
- Toilet Lock: Prevent your baby from lifting the toilet lid. They could fall in and drown or throw things down the toilet.
- Door Lock: Use door locks to prevent your baby from accessing the bathroom. The bathtub can be dangerous even if a small amount of water is in it.
- Secure Pool/Hot Tub: Drowning is the leading cause of death for children ages 1-4 in the United States, per the CDC. It’s vital to always supervise your baby, especially if they’re near a swimming pool. Take protective measures by signing your baby up for swim lessons, learning CPR, getting a pool alarm, and having a fence around your pool.
- Empty Baby Pools/Water Tables: Just as you should drain the bathtub after every use, you’ll also want to empty baby pools. Babies can still drown in 1-2 inches of water so make sure to always supervise them and never leave them alone. The AAP also advises emptying any area where water can collect, such as a cooler or bucket.
Taking a proactive approach to baby-proofing your home can help alleviate some of your concerns as your baby becomes more mobile. Check out our additional parenting tips and blogs for more guidance and happy baby-proofing!