Welcoming a new member of the family into your home means preparing months in advance. Baby proofing your house or apartment might seem like something that can wait, but when it comes to protecting your little ones, wouldn’t you rather be safe than sorry? Here are some tips and tricks to creating a baby-proof nest that you can be proud to call home.
First Step: Take a Baby’s View
If you’ve ever brought home a kitten or puppy, you know that making your house safer for them requires getting on your hands and knees and thinking, “What looks dangerous?” Well, when you’re going to have a crawling bundle of joy moving around, you have to look at the world from their perspective. Everything is new. Everything can be touched. If you think something can be pulled, poked, ripped, or opened easily, chances are your child(ren) will do exactly that.
Second Step: Invest in Preventative Measures
Once you have sought out every single risk to your baby’s safety in your home, you need to find ways to mitigate the hazards. For overall safety anywhere in your home, I highly recommend the following:
- Find the best baby gate that fits your needs – this is huge. Whatever kind of house you have, the baby needs a space without dangers that is sectioned off from high-traffic zones. The gate also has to be able to resist being shaken and leaned on. The most common place to have one is at the top of stairs. Other places you might need a baby gate include at the bottom of stairs, in front of fireplaces, and shielding electrical equipment.
- Plug covers for electric outlets and extension cords
- Cabinet locks
- Corner bumpers/edge covers – especially for rooms with loads of furniture
- Plastic storage containers
Also, allow me to briefly touch on hand-me-down toys and equipment. Although you might want to be thrifty and purchase goods that have been barely used, you might not be aware of any malfunctions or broken or missing pieces that could possibly cause the high-chair, for example, to collapse, or the crib’s gate to drop down during the night. Toys might be broken in some way that aren’t detectable until your baby tries teething with it. Always thoroughly inspect anything you receive as a hand-me-down. When in doubt, throw it out.
I am not saying that you should not take advantage of used equipment and toys if you have them, I just urge you to be careful. For new baby proofing products you should check if they are approved by the JMPA.
Now, let’s look at some tips for each room of your home.
The Kitchen and Dining Rooms
One of the busiest and most perilous places in your house is the kitchen and dining area. Even when they are separate, the shared breakable china, tables, cutlery, and other dining things are dangerous. Aside from that, we are often distracted here, meaning we can’t watch our children 24/7.
In the kitchen, the first thing you need to do is reorganize. Anything that can be poisonous—detergents, bleaches, soaps—needs to be relocated to higher shelving. Install safety latches if you don’t have access to cupboards or a sealed pantry. Also try to keep pots, pans, paper products, and utensils out of reach. Do remember that some babies will climb, so anything that can be pulled out, twisted (like stove knobs), or opened easily needs to be locked to prevent them from hurting themselves.
Though this depends on your flooring, try to put down non-skid rugs or get padding.
Finally, if you have a dishwasher, be extremely vigilant with your little one around it. Not only can the door come open on them, the water inside, along with the detergent, utensils and dishware are not safe. It is good practice to always place the sharp end of forks and knifes down in the cutlery basket.
Never, ever allow your child to be unattended in the bathroom. There is so much they can get into. Babies can drown easily if they accidentally slip into the tub. Like the kitchen, be sure to move any chemicals beneath the bathroom sink out of reach or put latches on the cabinets. Never leave electrical or beauty appliances plugged in with cords dangling. Lastly, be sure to either get a clamp for the toilet seat or leave the bathroom room door shut tight.
The Living Room
Aside from the nursery, wherever there is family space in your abode, you will potentially be spending a lot of time here together. Again, take a look around and ask yourself, “What would a baby think of as a toy?”
Keep in mind the length of blinds or curtains, which, if long enough, will be tugged, pulled down, and tangled. The same goes for wiring. Most noteworthy though are cords from blinds and curtains, as these pose a real hazard if a child gets them around their neck.
Never have pictures with heavy frames within your child’s reach.
Thirdly, while your baby might not come into contact with any of the furniture at first, do keep in mind that as they get older and more explorative, the nooks, crannies, and edges of your furnishings pose a potential threat. Move anything that can be climbed on away from windows. Mount bookshelves or other forms of storage down or to walls so they don’t topple over if your child decides to climb up them.
Again, a safe and sturdy baby gate or playpen might be essential depending on the layout of your home. Use the gate to keep your baby away from anything you deem unsafe.
Be very careful with fireplaces! As much as 12% of all deadly accidents to children between the age of one and four is caused by fire and burns. The best way to keep this from happening is to install a fireplace baby gate.
The Bedrooms and Nursery
A secure nursery is your number one priority. The crib should have nothing in it during the first 6 months that may cause Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). That means removing all stuffed animals and pillows and securing the sheets to keep anything from obstructing your child’s airways. Other things to consider for the nursery:
- Cushioned floors (to protect your baby during falls)
- An open bin for a toy box (because too heavy of a lid could close on them)
- Baby-friendly toys
- A new crib – hand-me-downs may not comply with current safety standards
As for your bedroom, be sure to remove anything from underneath the bed or on the floor that poses a choking hazard. Be sure to double check all electrical outlets, secure cords, and keep doors and drawers shut.
Baby Proofing Summary
Being a parent is a trying task. You have to keep your eyes glued to your newborn to prevent them from getting injured. Luckily, there are preventative measures that keeps your baby from falling into harm’s way. The general rules to commit to memory are to first set up boundaries with baby gate’s and/or play pens, and second, to find any potential safety threats. In conclusion, I want to emphasize that the process of baby-proofing a home is a way of life more than something you do once. These decisions should be the first thing on your mind when you have small children in your house.
Good luck! And if you have any baby proofing ideas of your own, we’d love to hear from you in the comment section!