The trick to adequate baby proofing is to remember that your baby sees the world in a very different way than you. In order to properly assess your home from the standpoint of a crawling baby, you have to get on their level – floor level – and see the world through their eyes. Take a crawling tour through your home and look for anything that they could grab, play with, or try to eat.
Common household hazards to consider include:
- Bathtub: Never leave a baby unattended for even a moment in the tub as they can drown in as little as 1” of water. To prevent scalding, set your water heater at 120°F or lower and never position your baby within reach of the faucet. When not in use, it is a good idea to cover the faucet head with a specialty made soft cover to prevent accidental use. As your child gets older and gains more mobility, it is a good idea to lay nonskid strips inside the bathtub to prevent them from slipping and falling.
- Cabinets: Kitchen and bathroom cabinets in particular can be dangerous to mobile children as they often contain hazardous cleaning chemicals, some of which look like delicious beverages. Prevent accidental ingestion by moving these chemicals to higher shelves where they will be out of reach. Purchasing childproof safety latches for your lower cabinets is still a good idea as children may accidentally become trapped inside if they are able to open them.
- Cribs: As soon as your baby starts pulling him or herself up into a standing position, move the crib mattress to the lowest position and remove all items from the crib and its vicinity. This includes mobiles, crib toys, bumper pads, and anything else they may climb on.
- Drapery: All drapes and curtain cords should be tied up and out of reach as they can present a choking hazard.
- Electrical cords: Similar to drapery and curtains, electrical cords can pose a choking hazard. They may also be pulled or chewed on causing electrocution or bringing down lamps and other heavy electronics on top of your unsuspecting child. Keep cords from dangling into their reach and keep electrical sockets covered when not in use.
- Flooring: Make sure all area rugs are secured with a nonskid backing to prevent slips and falls. Repair loose tiles, linoleum, and carpeting to prevent tripping.
- Furniture: Unstable wall units, dressers, bookcases, and tables can topple if climbed on. To prevent them falling on your child, secure them to the wall and repair wobbly furniture.
- Leftover dishes or unfinished drinks: After entertaining guests, be sure to clean up right away and remove all dishes and unfinished drinks that have accumulated around the home. A baby can easily knock over or try to consume food and drinks left behind after a party.
- Garbage cans: Keep all garbage bins up out of reach or inside locked cabinets to prevent babies from tipping them over and sampling the contents.
- Houseplants: Many common houseplants are toxic and should be kept out of reach of pets and babies to prevent poisoning. Suspend them from the ceiling or place them on the top of secure, large piece of furniture that your child cannot climb.
- Knickknacks: Small items can be choking hazards and should also be kept safely out of reach.
- Pet supplies: Move cat and dog dishes off the floor when not in use and move your baby to another room while your pets are eating. If you have a cat and need to place a litter box, find a place in the home which is inaccessible to your child. Position aquariums out of reach on a sturdy surface.
- Small appliances: Never position your baby’s high chair near kitchen appliances or cords. Unplug and put away hair dryers, electric shavers, and curling irons right after using in order to prevent dangling cords that will tempt your child.
- Sharp-edged tables: Cover the corners of tables with soft padding in case your baby bumps their head.
- Stairs: Gates should be installed at the top and bottom of all flights of stairs in your home in order to prevent falls. Do not use accordion style gates but rather the plastic mesh-work kind that can be attached directly to the wall.
- Stoves: Cook only on the back burners of your stove to keep handles out of the reach of curious children. Buy knob covers or remove the knobs when the stove is not in use to prevent them from being accidentally turned on.
- Toilets: Keep toilet lids closed and secured to prevent curious babies from falling in.
- Windows: Install window guards to prevent windows from being opened more than a few inches and move all climbable furniture away from windows.
Remember, baby proofing your home is no substitute for constant vigilance! It can only take a few seconds for an unattended baby to get into something they shouldn’t so baby proof your home and then make sure to also keep a close watch on your little bundle of joy.