baby with safety devices
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Start Early

It may seem odd to baby proof your home when your infant can't even roll over yet, but you may be surprised at how soon he'll be getting around and getting into things. So it's never too soon. Take the time to baby proof when your little one is still brand new or even before he arrives.

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baby looking in bookshelf
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Tie It Down

Time to secure your TVs and furniture -- just in case. Use furniture straps to hold TVs, bookshelves, dressers, and other heavy furniture in place in any rooms where your child might be left alone, even for a minute. Don't put a TV on top of a dresser -- the drawers can be used for climbing. Put corner or edge bumpers on any furniture with sharp edges.

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toddler playing with plunger
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Potty Precautions

You might not see your toilet as a hazard, but the water in it, and the toilet lid, can be a danger for a curious child. So prevent any problems: Remember to always keep toilet lids down and secured with a lid lock.

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colorful cables
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Control Your Cords

Use cord holders to keep longer cords fastened against walls. That way, your little one can't tug on a tangle of computer cords and other electrical wiring. That could keep your baby safe from electrical hazards or heavy equipment that falls after a couple of tiny tugs.

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baby standing in crib
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Give Baby a Safe Night's Sleep

Make sure your baby's crib has fixed rails. Or if you must use an older crib, don't use the drop-side rail, or get an immobilizer for it. (Cribs with drop-side rails are banned.) Test the crib to make sure your baby can't fit his head between the slats. If you can slide a soda can between the slats, they're too wide. Always keep soft items like blankets, pillows, stuffed toys, and bumpers out of your baby's sleep space.

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baby feet on step
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Manage Your Medication

Store all medicines in a high, locked cabinet. Never take medicine out of its original childproof container. Try not to take medicine in front of your child or he may want to imitate you. Never call medicine "candy." And don't flush old pills down the toilet. Get rid of them through your local drug take-back program, or put them in a sealed bag with something your child won't want to eat -- like kitty litter or coffee grounds -- and throw it in the trash.

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close up of blinds with pull
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Blind Danger

Tie all blind cords high out of reach, or cut the ends and attach breakaway safety tassels. Never put a crib or child's bed near window blinds or drapes. Those dangling cords can be a choking risk.

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electrical outlet
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Prevent Shocks

Put outlet covers on all exposed electrical sockets to keep your little one from getting an electric shock. Some small outlet covers can be a choking hazard if a baby or toddler pries them out of the wall. Look for "childproof" covers that require two hands to remove or cover plates that screw on. For double protection, place large furniture in front of outlets.

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close up of baby feet
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When It's Time for a Change

You'll probably be surprised at how fast your baby learns to roll over -- and the changing table becomes a falling hazard. Be sure your changing table has safety straps and always buckle up when diapering your child. Don't ever leave baby alone on the table. Plan ahead and have all the items you need -- diapers, wipes, baby cream, nail clippers, and a small toy -- handy before you start to change the baby.

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baby proofed cabinet
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Lock It Up

Protect curious kids from household cleaners and other chemicals by storing those items in locked cabinets or installing safety latches that lock when you close the cabinet door. Do the same for any low cupboards that contain risky items like small appliances. For added safety, store hazardous items up high and far away from small fingers.

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mother securing baby in car seat
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Safety in the Car

Keep your baby safe in your car, too -- in a rear-facing car seat until he's 2. Don't use a car seat if you don't know its history. It may have been involved in a car crash or it may be past its expiration date. Avoid a used car seat that looks damaged or is missing parts or the instructions. Avoid recalled models, too. You can find out more about car seat safety from the manufacturer or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (www.safercar.gov).

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baby in bathtub
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Tub Time

Make tub time fun, but safe, for your little one. Prevent scalding by adjusting your hot water heater so that the water is no hotter than 120 degrees. Install no-slip strips on the bottom of your tub and a soft cover on the faucet to protect tender heads. Most important, never leave your baby or toddler alone in the tub, even for a moment.

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baby grabbing ball
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Limit Baby's Movement

If there are some rooms you don't want to baby proof, use baby gates to keep your little one from getting into them. Also install gates at the top and bottom of the stairs before your baby gets mobile. Don't use accordion-style gates, which could trap the baby's head. Look for gates that attach securely to the wall but won't pinch small fingers.

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child looking out window
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Prevent Window Falls

Place your child's crib and other furniture away from windows. Don't rely on standard window screens -- they're meant to keep insects out, not children in. Instead, install childproof screens, or even better, window guards, which are proven to prevent falls.

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chairs on deck by pool
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Around Pools and Water Features

Take steps to safeguard areas around pools, hot tubs, and other home features with standing water, like fish tanks and ponds. Backyard pools should be completely surrounded by a 4-foot fence, preferably with a self-latching gate. Pool covers and alarms may provide additional protection. Don't leave toys floating in pools. And just like in the tub, never take your eyes off a child near water.

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baby chewing on ball
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Practice Toy Safety

Baby toys should be safe for babies. Your child's toys should be much larger than his mouth, to prevent choking. Check that all the parts attached to a toy -- like doll eyes or teddy bear bows -- are securely fastened and can't be torn off. Remove mobiles attached to a crib as soon as your baby can push up on his hands and knees.

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iron on ironing board
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Unplug Appliances

You may leave appliances such as the toaster, coffee maker, or paper shredder plugged in for convenience. But some appliances can harm your child if she turns them on, pulls them down on her, or gets tangled in a cord. Unplug them when you're not using them and put them away, out of reach, if you can.

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smoke alarm on wall
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Alarms

Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are essential to your family's safety. Install a smoke alarm outside every bedroom or sleeping area, and make sure there's at least one on every floor. Don't put smoke detectors near the kitchen or bathroom -- these areas can trigger false alarms that may leave you inclined to ignore them. Check the batteries every month.

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childs toy box
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Choose a Safer Toy Box

Choose a toy box with a safe design. Avoid containers with hinged lids that slam down. You want one with a light, removable lid or one that slides. If yours has a hinged top, make sure it has a lid support that can prop the lid open. Pick a toy box with ventilation holes or a gap beneath the lid -- in case a kid climbs in.

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baby crawling around house
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Get Your Child's Point of View

The best way to baby proof is to see things the way your baby does. Get down on your hands and knees and crawl around. What's at baby's eye level and within easy reach? Kids can be curious about anything they see, like computer cords and glassware on low shelves. You might not notice breakable or hazardous items when you're towering above them.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 11/01/2016 Reviewed by Amita Shroff, MD on November 01, 2016

IMAGES PROVIDED BY:

(1)    Jose Luis Pelaez/Blend Images, Steve Bartholomew/Dorling Kindersley, Thomas Northcutt/Photodisc
(2)    Radius Images/Corbis
(3)    American Images Inc/Photodisc
(4)    GK Hart, Vikki Hart/Stone
(5)    Image Source
(6)    Baobao Ou/Flickr
(7)    Susan Thompson/Flickr
(8)    Court Mast/Photographer's Choice
(9)    Robert Lang/Flickr
(10)    Ocean/Corbis
(11)    John Burke/Photolibrary
(12)    Don Bayley/Vetta
(13)    Altrendo/Stockbyte
(14)    Jill Tindall/Flickr
(15)    Andy Teo/Flickr
(16)    Alejandro Ventura/Canopy
(17)    Michael Haegele/Crush
(18)    Jefferey Coolidge/Iconica
(19)    Andy Crawford/Dorling Kindersley
(20)    Carey Kirkella/Taxi

REFERENCES:

American Academy of Pediatrics. "Bathroom Safety," "Changing Table Safety," "Childproofing and Preventing Household Accidents," " Falls from Heights: Windows, Roofs and Balconies," "Fire Safety," "How to Buy Safe Toys," "Keep Curious Kids Safe by Poison-Proofing Your Home," "Keeping Your Grandchild Safe in Your Home," "Kitchen Safety," "New Crib Standards: What Parents Need to Know," "Poison Prevention," "Toy Box Safety."
FDA: "How to Dispose of Unused Medicine."
Injury Prevention Center. "It Only Takes a Moment."
Nemours Foundation: "Childproofing and Preventing Household Accidents," "Choosing Safe Baby Products: Gates," "Household Safety Checklists," "Household Safety: Preventing Injuries from Falling, Climbing, and Grabbing," "Preventing Strangulation and Entrapment."
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. "Crib Safety Tips."

Reviewed by Amita Shroff, MD on November 01, 2016

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.