Childproof Your Home

Safety checklist to make sure every room is baby friendly.
One of the biggest challenges new parents face is childproofing their home. Each room holds its own set of dangers -- some obvious, others hidden. The key to child safety, both in and around the house, is to prevent injuries and accidents from happening. Here's a list of things to do and products to buy to make sure every room in your house is baby friendly.

In the nursery

  • Buy the crib and crib mattress at the same time to ensure the mattress fits snugly. Infants can get stuck in gaps between the rails and an improperly fitted mattress.
  • When your baby begins to sit up on her own, set the mattress on the lowest level of the crib to prevent her from climbing out.
  • Make sure the crib bumper is secure on all sides so your baby's head does not get caught underneath it. Remove the bumper as well as any mobile or other hanging toy when your baby begins to pull herself up to a standing position.
  • Never put stuffed animals or heavy blankets in the crib with your infant.
  • Don't place the crib near a window, outlet or light.
  • Make sure cords from shades or blinds are wrapped up tightly. Dangling strings pose a choking hazard.
  • Always place your baby on her back to sleep to prevent SIDS.
  • Never leave your baby unattended on the changing table.
  • Use plugs in unused outlets, place guards on windows, and stops on all doors.

In the bathroom

  • Make sure the hot water heater is set at 120 F or below to avoid burning your baby.
  • To prevent drowning, never leave your baby alone in the bathtub, even if it's only a few inches of water.
  • Use locks on the toilet and cabinets.
  • Place a vinyl bath mat or bath sponge pad on the bottom of the tub to prevent slips, a soft cover for the faucet to prevent cuts, and a shampoo shield on your baby's head to prevent soap from getting in her eyes.
  • Put all medicines and vitamins on a high shelf or cabinet away from your baby's reach.

In the kitchen

  • Use locks for the cabinets and drawers, plugs for the outlets, and covers for the stove's burner knobs.
  • Remove all household cleaners from the bottom cabinets or put them in a cabinet away from your baby's reach.
  • Keep all hot liquids away from the edge of the kitchen table or counters because your baby could reach up, pull the item down, and burn herself.
  • Turn all pot handles on the stove in toward the back of it.

In the family room

  • Keep all plants out of baby's reach because many are poisonous and the dirt is a potential choking hazard.
  • Make sure there are no small objects on the floor or on tables that are within your baby's reach. This is especially important when your baby begins to crawl. One way to make sure the room is safe is to get down on the floor with your baby and crawl around looking for any open outlet or other dangers.

Some general guidelines

  • Install safety gates (either tension or hardware-mounted) at the top and bottom of stairs as well as any other areas you do not want your baby to enter (e.g., an older child's room).
  • Put smoke alarms in every sleeping area and on every level of your home, test them regularly (i.e., once a month), and replace the batteries once a year.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors outside sleeping areas and at least 15 feet away from fuel-burning appliances.
  • Keep all plastic bags and packaging away from your baby and her play area since she they can suffocate her.
  • Use a small parts tester to test which objects are small enough to pose a choking hazard to your baby. If the item fits inside the tube, it is too small for her to play with. If you don't have a tester and are concerned about the safety of a toy piece, you can use an empty toilet paper roll.
  • Don't use baby walkers because they can and have caused serious injuries to babies who use them. Use stationary exercisers instead.
  • Don't carry hot liquids (e.g., a cup of coffee or tea) when holding your baby to avoid burns, spills or falls.

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