When it comes to your newborn's safety, it's easy to give in to worry. A lot of things could go wrong, and there's only so much you can do. But before you start covering everything up in your home, we're here to tell you it's not as overwhelming as it seems.
Babyproofing your house doesn't mean you have to pad every surface and lock everything away. In fact, you should give your baby the freedom to move around and explore the house they’re growing up in.
Just follow these expert-approved rules to baby-proof a house while still keeping it functional for you and your family.
Stick to a Bare Crib
The only thing your baby needs in their crib is a firm, snugly fit mattress with a fitted sheet. Pillows, comforters, cushions, quilts, or blankets can cause overheating and cover his face when he sleeps.
Bed-sharing or co-sleeping with your baby is discouraged for the same reason. Instead, it's recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics to share a room but have separate sleeping surfaces.
So, keep any loose bedding, toys, and objects out of cribs, bassinets, and playpens. When using changing tables, diapers and supplies should be nearby but out of your baby's reach.
Keep Electrical Cords, Outlets, and Devices Out of Reach
It’s important to pay attention to all accessible outlets, devices, and light fixtures in the areas where your baby will spend most of his time. Keep electronic devices stored away and use specially-made covers for any outlets and wall fixtures.
Cords and cables can become strangulation and tripping hazards, so make sure to secure them out of the way with rails or coverings.
Store All Toxic, Poisonous, and Hazardous Items in Locked Cabinets
Many of our common household items can be dangerous for children and must be properly managed and stored to prevent accidents.
Some examples of hazardous household items include:
Household cleaners and disinfectants
Matches, candles, and lighters
Arts and craft supplies
Plants and fertilizers
Sometimes, even personal items like makeup, perfume, and toothpaste can be poisonous. It's best to place these items where only adults can get them.
Use Baby Gates for Both the Top and Bottom of the Stairs
Although you're not likely to need safety gates for the first six months, it may be worth getting used to them ahead of time. That way, you won't be fumbling with the locks when your baby starts exploring the house.
Opt for hardware-mounted gates that attach to the wall instead of pressure-mounted or freestanding gates that can be pushed over with enough force.
Take Extra Precautions in the Bathroom
Whenever children are in or near water, especially infants, they should always have an adult with them to supervise.
Even a few seconds to pick up the phone or get an extra towel can be harmful, so avoid leaving your baby alone during bath time. It’s safer to take him with you or call for another adult to watch him instead.
You can also keep the drain open to prevent water pooling, and use anti-slip mats and age-appropriate bath seats to avoid falls and drowning.
Additionally, heated water can be too hot for an infant’s sensitive skin. Always check the temperature and keep it under 120°F. Putting anti-scald devices on the faucets and showerheads can also help reduce the risk.
Place Protective Barriers on Sharp Edges and Hot Surfaces
Guards and bumpers should cover all sharp edges and corners of furniture and appliances. These should stay secured even when you nudge them or when your baby pulls or chews on them.
Likewise, radiators, pipes, stoves, grills, fireplaces, and any surface that can get hot over time should have the proper guards and barriers in place. Your baby must be at least three feet away from these surfaces at all times.
Safeguard Your Windows
First, make sure the locks and latches on your windows are all intact and working. If you don't intend on keeping them locked all the time, you can install window guards and safety netting to prevent falls. Just leave a window in each room as your fire escape.
Second, check for any window blinds and coverings with pull cords or strings. They are known to be strangulation hazards. To prevent any accidents, tie them up, anchor them high on the wall, or remove them entirely.
Inspect and Anchor Furniture
The furniture in your home should be sturdy, safe, and in good repair—from all angles. Getting on your hands and knees is a good way to reevaluate your home from a child's perspective. Look out for any loose parts, bolts, nails, or splinters that can snag on clothing and skin.
Similarly, look for any tip-over hazards like TVs, shelves, bookcases, desks, dressers, and cabinets. If there's any possibility that anything might fall over, you should bolt and anchor it to the wall.
Always Use a Car Safety Seat
Your car will most likely be your baby's introduction to your home, and it should be just as safe. For this reason, the interior should be clean and free from loose objects and choking hazards.
Rear-facing car seats are the safest for infants and toddlers as they support the entire head, neck, and back. Therefore, it’s important to choose the right car seat and install it correctly. Once in place, the seat shouldn’t budge more than an inch in any direction.
Similar to the baby’s crib, adding pillows, blankets, or any attachments that didn’t come with the car seat is not recommended. If you need to shield your baby from the sun, avoid placing anything over the safety seat and put sun shades on the car windows instead.
Be Prepared for Emergencies
There's only so much you can do to prevent accidents from happening. Having something prepared if they do is equally important. Below are a few ways you can start:
Have a fully stocked first-aid kit at hand with instructions inside
Know your emergency numbers and post them where you can easily see them
Install and maintain smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
Learn how to perform CPR and the Heimlich maneuver alternative for babies
Here's the deal: there will always be a danger you can't eliminate or didn't see coming, even after you baby-proof a house. But, through these rules, you can still prioritize safety without putting your whole life on hold.
It's a lot to keep in mind on top of all the baby-related work you have to do, but you'll be able to learn and make your own rules as you go. And with everything taken care of, you’ll spend less time looking around for danger and more time adoring your new bundle of joy!