Baby-Proof Your Home: A How-To Guide
- Install gates once they start crawling. "Put them at the bottom of stairways to prevent them from getting up the stairs. And if you are worried about them getting out of a bedroom, put a gate on that doorway," Cronan says.
- "Don't put a gate at the top of the steps, because some babies can climb up a gate and fall from an even higher height," she says.
- Place the safety gate bar latch on the side away from your child's reach.
- Never leave anything on the stairs that you can trip on while carrying your baby.
Furniture and Accessories
- Put away any unstable or rickety furniture your baby could pull over.
- Fasten high bookcases or other tall pieces of furniture to the wall so your child can't pull them down.
- Keep all drawers closed completely so your baby can't shut fingers in them or climb on them.
- Keep all medications and cleaning products stored in a locked cabinet. "You especially want to lock [low cabinets] that contain household products that are dangerous because once your child starts crawling, he or she can get out cleaning fluids and drink them," Cronan says.
- Turn the handles of pots and pans toward the back of the stove or counter.
- Use the back burners for cooking whenever possible.
- Don't let your baby play at your feet while you are cooking.
- Never leave a boiling pot or sizzling skillet unattended on the stove.
- Teach your child that the oven is "hot" and not to touch it.
- Keep plug-in appliances, such as toasters and can openers, put away where your child can't reach them.
Child safety expert Dave Riley, PhD, offers additional advice. "Get right down at baby's level and check things out at their eye level," he says. "Pick up anything that they can put into mouths including dirt," Riley tells WebMD.
Still, baby-proofing doesn't stop there. "Baby-proofing changes with the age of the child," says Riley, professor of human development and family studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
"As soon as your baby develops any new capabilities, new dangers arise. So at each stage, you must really look at the house," he says.