If you’re looking for the ideal time to baby proof your house, rest assured that this important task doesn’t have to be completed before your baby arrives. But though you don’t have to do everything at once, it might be worth buying and installing some baby-proofing supplies when the nesting instinct kicks in a few months before you meet your baby. You can predict and arrange your schedule more easily at that time than in the newborn phase, so we’d recommend at least planning your baby-proofing priorities a little ahead of your baby’s due date.
How to Baby Proof: Break It Down
The question of how to baby proof requires a more complex answer. To get started, get down on your baby’s level. Lie down on your stomach and back to approximate what they’ll see when crawling and rolling; sit on your bottom to approximate their height when walking. Once there, look for anything that seems interesting. Are there cords your little one could go after? What about electrical outlets? Loose carpet corners? Fragile items on a low shelf? Seeing what your baby sees is a crucial first step in baby proofing; it will help you know what to repair, store out of reach, or buy to protect your child.
As noted above, you don’t have to tackle everything all at once. Every home will have its own specific needs, but here are some basic baby-proofing tasks most parents will need to check off the list, broken into subsections for age and development.
- Make sure the pull cords on your window blinds don’t pose a choking hazard. Some cords are specifically designed to avoid this risk, but if needed, you can also buy small attachments to make them safe.
- If you use a changing table for diapering, make sure it’s outfitted with a safety buckle to keep your child from rolling off.
- Ensure your baby’s sleeping area doesn’t contain any choking or suffocation hazards.
For Crawling Infants
- Secure heavy furniture and appliances with wall anchors and safety straps. Floor lamps, large decorative vases, and similar items that could tip over should be moved to other rooms.
- Unplug and stash small appliances when they’re not in use. It’s all too easy for a crawling kid to grab the cord of an iron or hair dryer and pull it down to the floor.
- Fasten long cords to walls or in an out-of-reach place.
- Store medicine in a cabinet well out of your child’s grasp.Use childproof outlet covers or cover all electrical outlets with heavy pieces of furniture.
- Take safety precautions at bath time by installing slip-proof mats in the bathtub and a soft cover on the faucet.
- Position safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs, as well as in doorways to rooms you don’t want your baby to enter alone.
For Walking Babies and Young Toddlers
- Consider child-safe window screens or window guards to prevent your child from falling out of open windows.
- Think about what’s stored in kitchen/bathroom drawers and add safety gadgets to keep your child from accessing hair products, razors, kitchen utensils, etc.
- Attach lid locks to your toilets; this will keep your wandering toddler from getting into the toilet water or having their fingers hurt by a falling lid.
- Keep any hazardous chemicals and small appliances away from your child, either by storing them on a high shelf or using safety latches on cabinet doors.
These divisions are just rough estimates. If you have a particularly curious crawler, you may want to prioritize some of the items in the section for young toddlers, for instance.
Installing Baby Proofing Devices
If you’re not sure how to install child safety cabinet locks, opt for a model that’s easy to install. One of the easiest types of cabinet locks to use and install is a wraparound lock. You simply squeeze the tabs on the moveable portion of the device and pull to lengthen the loop, place the device over both cabinet knobs, and then tighten the loop back up using the same method you used to loosen it.
Installing child safety latches on drawers requires a few more tools, but it’s still easily doable for most parents. Simply remove the drawer and install the catch plate on the top of the opening, about one inch from the corner. Replace the drawer and hold the latch portion inside the drawer to line it up with the catch plate. When you’re sure the two parts align, mark the latch placement with a pencil. You can then screw the latch into the drawer, using the marks as a guide, to complete the installation.
Additionally, most manufacturers give detailed instructions with all their products, so you’ll be able to breathe easy knowing these precautions will protect your baby exactly as they’re meant to.
Adapting Strategies as Your Child Grows
Baby proofing will eventually become child proofing, and as your child grows up, the process of making your home a safe place for them continues. To prepare for a taller, smarter, and more curious child, think about adding child-safe doorknob covers, keeping your countertops clear, and designating certain drawers or shelves for items they can play with safely—having a special place your child can go to find their own fun stuff will help keep them from poking around in other areas.
Parents in the midst of baby proofing may be particularly interested in our guides for baby monitors, baby proofing locks, and baby gates.