Baby Proofing Your Home
We offer up advice on how to make your home a safe space for your little one.
Bringing a baby home for the first time can be one of the most exciting experiences of any parent's life – and the most nerve wracking. Familiar elements of your home that may have been risk-free before, could now pose a risk to your growing child's health. As they begin to grow up and become mobile, there are some things to be mindful of to help keep them safe, and baby proofing your house is one of the best ways to avoid injury.
Here, we look at some key areas where you can maximize safety for your newest addition.
Consider age and stage
As your child grows and develops, your baby proofing strategy will change over time. A child's cognitive development continuously evolves, as evidenced by their increasing curiosity with the world around them; with age and experience, comes increased mobility. While your newborn may be stationary now, it’s only a matter of time before your little one will learn how to scoot, crawl, and walk.
Developmental milestones should be thought of as safety milestones as well. With every new advancement in your child's ability, there are different injury considerations: Can your child move between rooms? Open cupboards? Pull up on cabinets to stand?
With increased movement and curiosity, the risk of injury also increases. Evaluate the world from your child's perspective, and work to anticipate their next stage. The best time for baby proofing is before it's needed – so while your child may not be moving independently yet, watch for signs of scooting or crawling so that you can order baby safety gates ahead of time.
Mind their mouths
Children tend to put things in their mouths, which can increase the chances of choking, unintentional poisoning, or allergic reactions. Review your house for items that may look intriguing to your little explorer, securing them in cabinets and using baby safety locks.
When looking at potential poisons, clear the whole house. Medication, cleaning supplies, and laundry tablets may all look like candy to a child. Store them out of reach of children, and make sure they’re secured – just in case your little one manages to reach them. If you've got guests staying with you, make sure their bags or toiletry kits are also secure from prying fingers.
Choking hazards can take many shapes and sizes, from toys to batteries, or buttons. When choosing toys, check the age recommendation on the box. Toys or games for younger children will often be more straightforward in construction and feature larger parts, making them less likely to be a choking hazard. You can assess if a toy is a choking hazard by passing it through an empty toilet paper roll. If it fits, it presents a choking hazard for children under the age of three.
Food is also a concern for parents of children. Not just a choking hazard, food can also be a source of allergic reactions for growing children. Stay present during mealtime, and introduce new foods slowly and carefully. If your young one does have a known allergy, keep medication and emergency procedure lists easily accessible in your home.
Evaluate your space
Creating a safe environment for your child is one of the best things you can do for them, and for yourself. Knowing that they can move around and play without risk of injury will bring peace of mind as your child advances through mobility and developmental stages.
Check that furniture and appliances are secured to the walls to prevent heavy loads from falling on your child; this is also an excellent time to rearrange furniture to dissuade climbing and jumping. Inspect windows and doors for secure closures that are childproof, potentially installing specific baby safety locks, while removing any window blind cords that could pose a strangulation risk.
Safeguards around outdoor swimming pools may be apparent, but it is equally important to secure indoor water sources like sinks, toilets, and baths from children – some of the shallowest water inside the home can still pose a drowning risk, as children can drown in just two inches of water.
To avoid electrocution, use outlet protectors and secure lamps on tables, keeping children from pulling on cords. If you have a fireplace (gas or wood), invest in a childproof screen to keep children away from the flames. Consider baby safety gates to keep children out of trouble as well, whether it’s protecting them from falling down the stairs or entering a room that isn't baby proofed.
If your house is older or undergoing renovations, test the home's air quality and keep children away from dusty construction zones. Young lungs need to minimize exposure to chemicals and fume.