tummy time

How to Child Proof Your Home

Learning to crawl isn't just an important developmental milestone, it marks the dawn of the childproofing era for parents. In a heartbeat, your sweet, sedentary infant transforms into curious explorer. Your home — once your child's safe haven — is now a minefield of hidden hazards.

That's why childproofing is so important. Each year, about 2,500,000 children are accidentally injured or killed by hazards in their homes. In fact, unintentional injury remains the leading cause of death for kids under 14. While there is no replacement for constant supervision, proactive childproofing can prevent many accidents.

But don't worry...childproofing doesn't have to be overwhelming! Begin by touring our childproofed home below for room-by-room tips and strategies. Then, view your own home from your child's perspective: crawl through the house on hands and knees in search of tempting, eye-level dangers. You may be surprised by what you find.

Finally, head over to our Safety Department  for solutions. We have one of the most comprehensive, current childproofing collections around, so you can find everything you need, all in one place.

Kitchen | Living Room/Leisure Rooms | The Bathroom | Bedrooms | Nursery | Garage | Stairs
Decks | Doors | Electrical | Furniture | Windows | Toxins

stove top safety guard

Kitchen

  • Put cabinet contents off-limits with drawer and child proof cabinet locks.
  • Make sure household cleaners, cutlery, and china are locked up or out of reach.
  • Use edge cushions on countertops and islands; keep stools away from counters to discourage climbing.
  • When not in use, unplug coffee makers, toasters, etc. Wind the cords so there's no slack to yank on.
  • If your stove knobs are accessible, install stove knob guards.
  • Childproof the refrigerator, oven, and dishwasher with appliance locks.
  • When cooking, turn pot handles backward; cook on the back burners when possible. Or use a stove guard to put hot stovetops off limits.
  • Better yet, keep baby secure in his highchair while you're cooking. Be sure to use the highchair harness every time.
  • Patrol your kitchen for these less-obvious (but still potentially lethal) hazards: dish detergent, vitamins, plastic bags, and refrigerator magnets.
  • Some experts recommend designating one floor-level cabinet for baby. Fill it with plastic storage containers, wooden spoons, and other items baby can safely explore.
  • Make sure you child proof the trash can with a lid to deter "dumpster diving."
baby gate

Living Room/Leisure Rooms

  • Eliminate baby's access to fireplaces and wood stoves using fireplace gates developed for this purpose.
  • Shield brick and concrete hearths — a major falling hazard — with foam hearth cushions.
  • Store fireplace crystals, matches and lighters away where kids can't access them.
  • Anchor televisions with safety straps.
  • Place lamps and breakables out of reach.
  • If you have a liquor cabinet, keep it locked.
  • Keep recliners in the closed position (kids can get trapped underneath).

The Bathroom

  • Experts recommend turning the water heater down to 120°F to avoid risk of scalding. (Always fill the tub first and check the water temperature before placing baby in it.)
  • Safety-proof the bathtub with faucet and knob covers.
  • Choose non-slip bathtub mats, shower mats, and area rugs.
  • Use a toilet lock to ensure the toilet lid stays down. Toddlers have drowned in unsecured toilets.
  • Makes sure all of these items are out of reach: cleansers, detergent, bleach, toiletries, cosmetics, razors, hairdryers, curling irons, etc.
  • Put a cabinet lock on your medicine chest or get a medicine safe. (Never discard old pills in the trash where kids can find them.)
  • Never, ever leave baby alone in the bathroom and never let your attention wander during bath time. A child can drown in 2" of water.

Bedrooms

  • Install a bi-fold door lock on bi-fold closet doors to keep tots out and prevent pinched fingers.
  • Never leave your infant lying on your bed unattended. Rolling off beds and other furniture is the leading cause of fall-related injuries for babies.
  • Secure TVs, blind cords, and breakables as mentioned elsewhere. The Just Right! Cord Control Kit helps keep cords under control.

The Nursery

Garage

  • The garage is filled with hazards and is no place for kids. Keep kids away from lawn mowers, tools, and yard chemicals, as well as adult sporting goods.
  • Make sure your garage door has a working sensor that prevents it from closing when there's something or someone underneath.

Stairs

  • Place safety baby gates at the top and bottom of every stairwell.
  • Choose hardware mounted gates for stair tops. Position gates so they do not open over the top of the stairs.
  • If banister posts are more than 3" apart, install a transparent banister shield.
  • Install a handrail along the entire length of the stairs, if one's not already in place. If the handrail is out of your child's reach, consider a child-accessible handrail.

Decks

  • Keep deck furniture away from deck rails to eliminate risk of climbing.
  • Measure the distance between horizontal deck rails. If there's more than 3" between posts, install a transparent banister shield.
  • Always keep baby away from the grill — whether it's on or off.
  • Put decals on sliding doors at baby's eye level, so he or she doesn't run into the glass.

Doors

  • Door knob covers and safety child gates are an easy way to put basements, garages, and other rooms off limits.
  • Make sure all doors leading outside have childproof locks or deadbolts.
  • Older, plastic-tipped doorstoppers can be a choking hazard. Replace them with one-piece safety doorstoppers.
  • Install finger guards on fast-closing doors.
outlet covers

Electrical

  • Use child proof outlet covers to shield all electrical outlets. Every year, more than 1,300 children are hospitalized for electric shock after sticking objects into open outlets.
  • Surge protectors are equally dangerous; shield them with power strip covers.
  • Don't leave electrical cords lying loose. Use cord shorteners to eliminate slack or secure cords to the wall with wire guards.
  • Kids can become trapped in tangled cords attached to entertainment centers and computers. Bundle them together with cord tubes.
  • Do not place electrical cords under rugs; they can overheat.
  • Don't use extension cords as permanent fixtures. More than 250 kids end up in emergency rooms every year with burns to the mouths because of them.

Furniture

  • Use furniture brackets or straps to secure bookshelves, dressers, and wall units to the wall. And don't forget TV anchors (3,000 kids are injured, some fatally, by falling furniture and televisions every year.
  • Safeguard coffee tables and dressers with corner and edge shields to cushion dangerous edges.

Windows

  • Use cord protectors on blind and drape cords to eliminate risk of strangulation.
  • Move furniture away from windows to eliminate access.
  • Place window guards on second-story windows. Do not depend on window screens; they can tear under a child's weight.

Toxins

  • Make sure all household chemicals are stored away in locked cabinets or storage bins.
  • Keep houseplants out of your child's reach. Some common houseplants — including philodendron, amaryllis and holly — are highly poisonous.
  • Place the phone number of your local poison control center near every telephone. Don't try to treat poisoning without professional help.
smoke detector

In Addition...

  • One of the best investments you can make is a choke tube tester. This inexpensive cylinder measures small toys to ensure baby can't choke on them.
  • Another option is to use an empty toilet paper roll tube. If the toy can fit through the tube, save the toy until the child is older.
  • Every home needs smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, and carbon monoxide detectors. See our article on Fire Safety for details.
  • Childproofing is an ongoing process. Some experts recommend re-checking your home every six months. Be ready to install new safeguards as your child grows taller, stronger, and smarter.

And as your child begins exploring, teach your little one what is permissible and what is off-limits. All the childproofing in the world cannot replace your loving supervision!

Additional Resources:
Consumer Product Safety Commission
Center for Disease Control and Prevention/National Center for Health Statistics

Related Article(s):
Outdoor Safety Starts in Your Own Backyard

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