How to Baby-Proof Your Home

Homes are chock-full of hazards for babies. As a new parent, however, it can be hard to anticipate all of them.

The best way to find them is to get down on your hands and knees and crawl around your home like a baby. Imagine how he or she will see things for the first time: electrical outlets, dangling tablecloths, cabinet pulls, and more.

Once you see the hazards in your home, take action to eliminate them. Here are tools and gadgets that can help:

  • Safety latches and locks. Use these on all cabinets and drawers to keep baby away from poisonous and other harmful substances. It’s best to keep medicines and cleaners well out of baby’s reach.

  • Safety gates. Install hardware-mounted gates at the top and bottom of every stairway to prevent falls. Use them to keep baby away from hazardous areas, too.

  • Doorknob covers and locks. Use these to keep baby out of rooms that are off-limits. Also use knob protectors on the stove knobs.

  • Window guards. You can’t rely on window screens to prevent falls from upper-story windows. That’s why you need to install safety bars or window guards. Check them often to be sure they are secure. There should be no more than 4 inches between bars.

  • Corner and edge bumpers. These keep baby safe from falls against sharp edges on tables and other furniture.

  • Antiscald devices. It is important to control your water temperature to prevent accidental burns. Also be sure the thermostat on your hot water heater is set below 120°F.

  • Outlet covers and plates. To prevent electrical shock and electrocution, install protectors on all unused outlets. The covers should not be easily removed by tiny fingers.

  • Blind and curtain cord safety devices. The dangling cords of blinds and curtains entice babies, but they can lead to strangulation and other serious injuries. Look for safety tassels for mini-blinds and tension devices for vertical blinds and curtain cords. When buying new blinds or curtains, ask about safety features.

  • Doorstops and door holders. These prevent little fingers and hands from getting pinched or crushed in doors and hinges.

  • Wall brackets. Secure bookshelves and other furniture with wall brackets so baby can’t tip them over.

  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Install smoke detectors in the hallways between all bedrooms and test them each month. If you cook or heat your home with natural gas, oil, or have an attached garage, install a carbon monoxide detector near sleeping areas.

While these tools and gadgets will help make your home a safer place for baby, nothing can replace your eyes and constant supervision. Keep an eye on your baby at all times. Even when your home is baby-proofed, it only takes a split second for an accident to happen.

Online Medical Reviewer: DeRosiers, Florence MD

Date Last Reviewed: 4/6/2010

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