Getting your home ready for the arrival of your newborn should always be a special time in your life. You want to make your home a warm, welcoming and — above all — safe place for your newborn.
“Making your home a safe place for your baby well in advance of your due date helps prevent common infant and toddler injuries,” says Desmond “Tony” Jolly, MD, a pediatrician at Scripps Clinic Carmel Valley. “Plus, it gives you peace of mind knowing you can enjoy your baby without worrying about safety issues in the house.”
Common injuries babies and toddlers suffer at home are falls, burns, poisoning, drowning, choking, furniture tipping over, suffocating during sleep and electrical injuries.
You’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to baby proof your home and not be surprised if you have to do it more than once. Your baby will begin crawling and exploring before you know it.
Your baby will spend a lot of time in the nursery. Make sure it’s a safe place to have sweet dreams.
Look for a crib that is sturdy and well built. It should have slats no more than 2 3/8 inches apart to prevent your baby’s head from getting stuck.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends all infants should sleep on flat and firm surfaces. This helps prevent accidental suffocation and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). To that end, keep bedding to a minimum and avoid pillows, crib bumpers and inclined infant sleeper products.
For additional safety, position the crib away from windows, heaters, lamps and cords and consider getting thick carpeting or a rug to cushion any potential falls.
Keep safety in mind also when you’re decorating the crib and nursery.
“Window blinds with cords can present as strangling hazards, so keep them out of reach or get cordless blinds,” Dr. Jolly says. “Watch out for small pieces on crib decorations that can be swallowed.”
The living room is a place where a lot of family time is spent. Make sure it’s especially safe for your baby.
Make sure none of your furniture can topple over easily. Do this by securing televisions, dressers, bookcases and other heavy furniture to the wall with anchors and safety straps. Prevent collisions with furniture that has sharp edges with safety padding.
- Install locks to prevent window falls.
- Use baby gates to block access to stairs and bathrooms.
- Never leave an infant carrier unattended on a countertop or high surface.
Bathing your baby is a great time to bond. Safety is important. Drowning, burns and falls can all happen in this room.
Never leave your baby alone in the bathtub or bath ring, even if there is very little water in it. Children can drown in very shallow water.
“Make sure you have everything you need within reach,” Dr. Jolly says. “To avoid distractions, turn off your phone but if you must respond to another task, take your baby out of the bath tub.”
To prevent scalding, set the hot water heater in your home to less than 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
Install safety latches on drawers and cabinets that are within a child’s reach, and on toilet seats.
The kitchen is often referred to as the heart of the home. It’s where meals are made, and everyone gathers. It is also a place filled with dangers that require a lot of attention.
Burns pose the biggest danger. “Never leave your child alone in the kitchen or in any room with an open heat source, such as a fire, lit stove, candles or heaters,” Dr. Jolly says.
Scalding burns can happen from tipping over hot liquids. Use the back burners, instead of the front burners of your cookers. If you can’t do this, turn the pot handles toward the back so they are not easy to reach.
Limit easy access to microwaves and avoid use to prepare baby’s meals.
“Never heat baby food or bottles in the microwave, which can create dangerous hot spots,” Dr. Jolly says. “Be sure to check the temperature of prepared bottles on your arm before feeding your baby.”
- Store cleaners and other dangerous products in a high cabinet that is locked and out of a child’s reach.
- Keep sharp objects, including cooking utensils and appliances, and breakable dishes out of reach or in a latched drawer.
- Unplug appliances when they’re not in use.
- Keep matches out of reach and sight.
Children like to explore by putting things into their mouths. So, it’s important to keep harmful items out of their reach throughout your house, including:
- Cleaning products, such as bleach, dish washing detergent. laundry detergent
- Personal and hygiene products, such as cosmetics, mouthwash, perfume
- Items in your basement or garage, such as antifreeze, gasoline, insecticides and weed killer
- Prescription and over the counter medicines, vitamins and supplements
- House plants
Make sure all the paint in the house — including walls, railings and furniture — is lead-free. Check your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they’re working.
Toddlers often get injured when they bite into electrical cords or poke metal objects into outlets or appliances.
Prevent electrical injuries by:
- Covering all outlets near the ground with tight-fitting electrical outlet covers
- Making sure all wires are properly insulated
- Keeping a close eye whenever your child is in an area with potential electrical hazards
Drowning is a leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 4. If you have a pool, install a fence around it and use a pool cover and alarm. Fencing can prevent more than half of all swimming pool accidents of young children, according to AAP.
Provide close supervision in and around water. Never leave a child alone in a pool.