Remember the scene in the movie Baby Mama where Amy Poehler's character has to use the sink in the bathroom instead of the toilet, because Tina Fey's character went overboard childproofing and the toilet lid was fastened down securely so no one could use it? It was definitely a laughable scene, but there's really nothing funny about baby-proofing your home. While you don't need to do this before you come home from the hospital with your infant, it's definitely a good idea to have some safety measures in place before your little one becomes mobile.
So, what does baby-proofing a home involve? There are a number of different steps to take, all of which play an important role in keeping your child safe and sound. But here are some of the most crucial child-proofing steps to keep your precious little nugget out of harm’s way:
1) Store Your Diaper Bag Appropriately
You wouldn't normally think of a diaper bag as being something that could be dangerous, but it actually can be. A child that gets caught in the straps could be in danger. They could also get into the bag itself and accidentally slice themselves with some of the tools, like nail clippers, that are kept in there.
While many of the products used on kids, such as diaper creams, are non-toxic, your little one still shouldn't play with them unsupervised. For these reasons and others, you are better off keeping your diaper bag in a safe, secure, out-of-reach closet.
2) Cover Those Electric Sockets
This is one of the most common methods of baby-proofing a home. In fact, it's often the first thing that comes to mind. Children who stick their fingers (or worse, a metal utensil) into an electric socket can end up being shocked or electrocuted.
Covering the sockets with those special plastic inserts that are tough to remove will keep them secure. Plus, these socket covers are fairly inexpensive and easy to remove when you need to plug something in, but in the meantime, your little one will stay safe.
3) Secure Any Light Cords
Dangling light cords, even those hidden behind furniture, can be hazards for curious babies. They might pull on the cord, knocking over any lamps attached to the other end. Those lamps and other electronic devices might land on your child, causing injuries.
In addition, loose cords that twist around a child can lead to strangulation. Keep those cords safe by using anchors to attach them to the walls just above your baseboard, so they aren't movable.
4) Install Fireplace Screens
Fireplaces are another part of the house that needs to be baby-proofed. Thankfully, there are many different styles of safety screens, making it easy to find one that will look nice in your family room, while providing the right kind of protection at the same time.
A secure fireplace screen will cover the open hearth entirely, keeping your little one out of the fireplace and away from any hazardous materials that might end up on their hands and legs or in their mouths.
5) Anchor Tall Furniture to the Walls
Tall furniture, like dressers, bookcases, armoires, and china cabinets, has a bad habit of being top-heavy, especially if it’s full of numerous items. The last thing that you want is for one to flip over onto your child. Kids are curious and tend to get themselves into trouble by climbing on furniture.
Thankfully, there’s a solution. Most of these items come with an anchoring kit that allows you to fasten them to the wall. If yours didn’t, simply look for one in your local home improvement store.
6) Place Your Floor Lamps and Coat Racks Behind Furniture
One of the easiest things to do when baby-proofing your home is to arrange the furniture so that items that may tip over, but aren’t easily anchored to the walls, are placed behind larger, heavier pieces. For example, putting a floor lamp behind the couch or an old-fashioned coat rack behind a living room accent chair keeps it from falling over when little hands tug on it. Anything that is easily toppled but not anchorable should be braced with other furniture or placed in storage until your little one is old enough to not knock it over.
7) Get Rid of Any Blinds with Looped Cords
As a part of your baby-proofing efforts, remove these blinds from your windows and choose a cordless variety that is much safer. Not only will your window look just as nice, if not nicer, but your home will be properly baby-proofed, and your mind will be much more at ease.
8) Secure the Stairs with Baby Gates
Baby gates serve two important purposes. One, they prevent your little one from getting too close to and falling down the stairs. They also allow you to corral your mobile child in a certain part of your home, like the living room, where you’re able to keep a proper eye on them. They make your life so much easier!
Plus, baby gates go a long way towards keeping your child safe on the correct floor. Stairs can be a hazard for anyone (how many times have you tripped on them as an adult?) Now imagine what it’s like for a child who isn’t sure on their feet or is still crawling.
9) Put Cabinet Locks on the Cupboards
Cabinets hold any number of things that you don’t want your child getting into. Items like cleaning supplies that are typically stored under the kitchen sink can be a poisonous hazard, and even pots and pans can cause injuries under just the right circumstances. To keep your little one safe – and to keep from having to put non-dangerous things back into the cabinets after your child gets that door open – place cabinet locks on all reachable cupboards. You’ll be glad that you did!
10) Cover Stove Knobs with Safety Devices
Speaking of safety devices, there’s nothing quite like a stove knob cover. These covers prevent the knobs from being turned, meaning that your child won’t be able to burn themselves by switching the flame on. Although the stove knobs can be a bit tricky to put on correctly, not to mention the fact that you’ll need to temporarily remove them in order to cook a meal, they do their job well. These stove knob covers are available in any number of stores, including big box stores (look in the baby proofing section) and hardware shops of all sizes.
11) Pad Sharp Corners
There’s nothing worse than catching a glimpse of your child falling into the corner of a coffee or end table. While you may think that watching your kid carefully when they are loose in the living room will prevent this, remember that all it takes is a split second for them to run into one of these corners.
Your best bet is to place padding over those corners so they are all properly cushioned. This way, when that accident happens, despite your best intentions, there won’t be any injury, or if there is, it will be a minor bump that can be soothed with a kiss.
12) Install Finger-Pinch Guards on the Door Hinges
Door hinges and small fingers don’t get along well. In order to prevent them from hurting themselves, put finger-pinch guards on the door hinges. These devices are fairly easy to install and can save you a trip to the emergency room. Consider placing them on the lower hinges of every interior door in your home that is in your child’s reach to keep those precious little digits safe. (Note: They won’t be able to reach the upper ones for a while, so you won’t have to cover them.)
13) Place Thick Rugs on Hard Floors
Hard floors, like those made of tile or wood, may look nice and will hold up against daily use and abuse, but they can cause problems when your baby falls on them. When your child is starting to crawl, it's time to give them a little extra protection. A nice, thick rug will cushion any blows, prevent dangerous injuries, and give your little one a soft place to land.
In Summary: Keeping Your Home Safe
While enlisting help is always an option, there's no need to call in the professionals when you're baby-proofing your home unless you really want to. All of these things are easily purchased at home improvement and big box stores and are easy to set up. You and your significant other will just need to set aside a few baby-free hours in order to arrange it all.
Wait until your little one goes down for a nap, and then secure your diaper bag, move your furniture, and install all of your safety features to make your home a safe haven for your precious little nugget!