Not to scare you, but more than 2,500 are accidentally killed. That’s why it’s so important to carefully childproof your home. If home safety measures seem overwhelming, this childproof checklist can help. It will let you see at a glance what to do before your baby arrives, before your baby crawls, and before your baby starts toddling and climbing. You’ll also find safety tips in our articles about childproofing your nursery, kitchen, and bathroom. Here are some additional recommendations about what you need to do to keep your baby safe at home.
You’ll find all kinds of gadgets for sale that can really help your home childproofing efforts. Or (if you can afford it), hire a professional childproofer to choose and install safety devices for you. Keep in mind that gadgets are no substitute for your eyes and ears. The best device is still supervision.
Scope out the territory
The most effective way to ensure your baby’s safety is to take a baby’s-eye view of your home. Get down on your hands and knees and see how things look from down there. What’s within reach? What looks tempting? Where would you go if you could crawl, toddle, or walk?
This will help you figure out which cupboards, drawers, and other spaces your child might get into. As he starts walking and climbing, you’ll have to reevaluate again, looking higher each time. Carefully lock up or stow away every potential poison or other hazard, including cleaning products, medicines, vitamins, and knives. Use gates to limit your child’s access to areas of your home that might contain dangerous items.
Keep an eye out for tiny objects that your baby could choke on. Pick up any coins, marbles, beads, paper clips, and other small objects you find on low tables or the floor or in low drawers or cupboards. Be watchful when you have visitors, too. Aspirin, lipstick, medications, and other items that people typically carry with them are dangerous to small children.
It’s a good idea to protect electrical outlets with outlet covers. Unfortunately, the removable little plug-in caps can easily end up in your baby’s mouth. Instead, replace the outlet covers themselves – at least those that are accessible – with ones that include a sliding safety latch. If you’re using extension cords in your home, cover any exposed outlets with electrical tape. You’ll have to reevaluate these precautionary measures as your child grows. Childproofing is an ongoing process. The gate you put at the top of the stairs for your 1-year-old may become his favorite climbing structure when he’s 2.
Use caution with furniture and fixtures
Large or heavy bookcases, dressers, and appliances are real hazards: Bolt whatever you can to the wall. Push items like televisions back from the edge of the furniture they’re on or move them out of reach, and then secure them, too. Always put heavier items on bottom shelves and in bottom drawers to make furniture less top-heavy.
Babies start pulling up on furniture shortly after they start crawling. Some children scale counters, bookcases, and anything else they can grab on to. Place floor lamps behind other furniture so that their base is out of your child’s reach.