When should you start baby proofing your home?
During the first few years, your baby is constantly growing and changing. They develop new skills seemingly overnight. While this is an exciting process to watch, it can make it hard to prevent accidents. Children are more likely to be injured at home than at any other place, so it's important to take steps to make sure your home is safe.
The process of baby proofing your home should begin before you ever bring your baby home. Though you don't have to worry about your child getting into anything until they become mobile, there are still hazards you need to avoid. For babies under the age of one, suffocation causes two-thirds of injury-related deaths.
How to keep your newborn safe at home
Baby proofing is not just about keeping dangerous items away from your baby. It's also about being safe in your daily routines and how you take care of your baby. Here are some ways you can reduce your baby's risk of suffocation:
- Put your baby to sleep on their back until their first birthday.
- Use a firm mattress that fits snugly in your baby's crib.
- Don't use crib bumpers.
- Make sure your baby's crib sheet fits the mattress well.
- Keep blankets, stuffed animals, and pillows out of your baby's crib.
- Never put your baby down to sleep on a soft surface such as a couch or adult bed.
- Don't let your baby share a bed with you or anyone else.
What are the biggest household risks to babies?
Injuries are the leading cause of death among children under the age of four. Sadly, most of these injuries could have been prevented. Because your baby is constantly learning new things but can't understand danger, you have to plan ahead to prevent accidents. Your young child doesn't understand "no," so you'll need to make sure your home is safe for them.
Baby proofing checklist
There's no substitute for supervision, but you can make your house safer by being aware of the following risks and taking preventative measures:
Poisoning. Children put everything in their mouths as part of exploring the world around them. While it's developmentally appropriate, it can lead to them swallowing harmful substances. Make sure you use child safety caps on medicines and keep them out of reach. Don't store extremely toxic substances such as lye in your house at all.
Falls. Your baby will be able to get to high places long before they can safely get down from those high places. Once your baby starts walking, they will tumble frequently. To keep your baby safe:
- Lock doors to dangerous rooms.
- Use baby safety gates on stairs.
- Don't let your baby play unattended in high places, such as on balconies, even if there are railings.
- Make sure you don't leave furniture or boxes in places your baby can use them to climb somewhere dangerous.
Burns. While you may be tempted to let your baby crawl around while you cook dinner, the kitchen can be a dangerous place for young children. Keep your baby out of the kitchen while you're cooking. If that's not possible, make sure your baby is restrained in a high chair or behind a baby gate.
The bathroom is another place burns are likely to happen. Make sure your water heater is set no higher than 120 degrees. Don't let your baby play with the faucet. Since your baby's skin is more sensitive than yours, test the water temperature with your wrist or elbow before you bathe your baby.
Drowning. Young children love to play in water. Never leave your child unattended near a source of water, even for a moment. This includes buckets, wading pools, swimming pools, lakes, or bathtubs. Children can drown in two inches of water. Stay within an arm's reach of your child when they're around water.
Most children drown when they wander out of the house and fall into an unfenced pool. Swimming pools should be fenced in completely by a fence at least four feet high with a self-latching gate.
Firearms. The best way to protect your child from guns is not to have one in your house. If you do have guns in your home, make sure you keep them locked up and store the ammunition separately. You should also ask about guns in any other homes your child spends time in. As soon as your child is old enough, teach them to immediately tell an adult if they find a gun and not to touch it.
Choking. Once your child can put things in their mouth, choking becomes a serious risk. To help prevent choking accidents:
Cut your baby's food into small pieces.
Keep choking hazards such as small toys, buttons, and coins away from your baby.
Be especially careful with lithium batteries, as they can be fatal if swallowed.
Take a first-aid class so you'll know what to do if your baby chokes.