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Babyproofing 101: Do's and don'ts for home

If there's one thing babies love, it's learning to crawl and discovering their new world. They'll also try to taste or swallow whatever they can find. Your little one can get hurt like that or in other ways when they start to explore.

That's why parents need to babyproof their home, starting before or as soon as your little one starts to crawl, advises the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). What follows are some tips to help you do that. Note: The child safety devices mentioned here—latches, locks and more—can be purchased at hardware or other retail stores, as well as online. Be sure to read and follow the directions for using them.

Be careful with small objects

Check the floors to make sure they're free of small objects that can be choking hazards or harmful if swallowed. Lots and lots of little things fall into this category, like:

  • Lithium button-style batteries—like those used in watches or hearing aids. 
  • Coins.
  • Small magnets.
  • Beads.
  • Other children's small toys. (Remind any older brothers or sisters to put away playthings after each use.)
  • Screws, bolts, nuts and other household hardware.

Keep away from baby

Leave any potentially dangerous products locked away and out of reach. This includes cleaning products, medicines, laundry detergent pods, knives and sharp objects. You can install child-resistant safety latches on kitchen, bathroom or other necessary cabinets.

Here are a few other things your baby shouldn't find:

  • Indoor plants. Some houseplants can be harmful if a baby chews them. So either keep them out of reach or give them to a friend. 
  • Trash. Kids can get into the trash and come in contact with something potentially harmful (or just plain gross!).
  • Plastic bags or wrappers. They pose a suffocation hazard.

Install plastic covers on power outlets

Ever notice how the three receptacles on electrical outlets resemble a face with eyes and a nose? It's more than enough to make a crawling child investigate. Outlet covers can help prevent electrocution.

Prevent falls

Use gates on stairways to prevent baby from taking a tumble. Note: Older gates, passed down by relatives or available at yard sales, may not be safe for baby. Some have a "V" shape that is large enough to entrap and choke a baby.

Also, consider installing corner and edge bumpers to help prevent injuries from falls against sharp edges like coffee tables.

Watch the water temperature

Lower the temperature on your water heater (if possible) to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. You might also install anti-scald devices on your faucets.

Secure your furniture

As your baby grows, he or she may try to climb on furniture or appliances, like TVs, bookcases and dressers. These heavy items can topple over onto a child, causing injury or death. To help prevent this, you can install special anchors that secure the object to the floor or the wall.

Use cordless window coverings

Children can wrap window coverings around their necks or pull cords, resulting in possible strangulation, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports. If you have window blinds from 2000 or earlier, you may be able to obtain a free repair kit to make the coverings safer.

More parenting news

Want to brush up on safe sleep positions for baby? Take a look at our infant sleep safety guide.

Reviewed 1/26/2024

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