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How to Baby-Proof Your Home

You probably already have a child safety seat for your car, so now it’s time to make sure baby is safe at home too. Without a doubt, your little bundle of joy is probably making you consider a home makeover. When your baby starts to explore, you’ll want to be ready.

Whether its the kitchen, the living room or the baby's nursery, there's work to be done to keep the littlest member of your house safe. Let's get started.

The kitchen

Hot ovens and sharp tools are two good reasons to child-proof your kitchen. After all, while you’re focusing on preparing meals, you may be joined by a little one who has far more curiosity than safety smarts.

Unless you can respond with guaranteed ninja speed to the click of an opened cabinet, it’s a good idea to baby-proof your kitchen. Here’s how.

  • Reorganize: Move detergents, sharp kitchen tools and small objects that are stored in baby-level cabinets and drawers to a higher place well beyond baby’s reach. Do the same with heavy, breakable ceramic and glass cookware.
  • Install latches: Little latches will keep small hands out of drawers and cabinets that could contain dangerous knives and more.
  • Safety-proof appliances: A small child can easily open a dishwasher, oven or refrigerator, so consider installing safety latches on these doors as well. The control knobs for your stove top can be easily reached, too, but knob covers will make them much more difficult for small hands to maneuver. Finally, check the anti-tip bracket on your refrigerator and stove. These brackets are usually installed right into the floor with an option to slide out the appliance when you clean. Using brackets can protect both children and pets if either manage to climb onto an open oven door. Anti-tip brackets can also come in handy when you’re cooking something heavy like a Thanksgiving turkey.
  • Reconsider easily grabbed items: When it comes to countertop appliances like blenders, food processors and rice cookers, be aware of where the cord is at all times so it doesn't end up in the grasp of little hands that can pull it down. Also consider forgoing a table cloth—it can be easily pulled off a table, along with anything else that happens to be resting on it.  
  • Corral and contain: Depending on the layout of your kitchen, you may consider placing baby gates that create a safe play area in your kitchen while you cook. If you can’t do that, the high chair is always a good option.

The living room

The living room is a place where your family can kick back, relax and make memories. With a few upgrades and adjustments, it can also be a safer place for your tiny tot to play and explore. Here are some key areas you’ll want to consider when it comes time to baby-proof your living room.

  • Electrical outlets: If nothing is plugged into an outlet, it’s a good idea to install plastic covers in outlets to help keep your baby from inserting fingers or objects into the sockets.   
  • Corners and edges: Falls and collisions with tables and other furniture can get serious when baby takes her first, bowlegged steps—and later progresses to a full sprint. For that reason, it’s a good idea to invest in furniture that doesn’t have sharp edges.
  • Cabinets: Keep liquor, breakable objects and electronics out of reach with cabinet door locks.
  • Furniture: Babies and toddlers love to pull themselves up on furniture. First identify which pieces can be tipped—end tables, bookshelves, entertainment centers and desks are common culprits. Then make sure those unstable pieces are securely mounted to the wall. Don't overlook television sets
  • Chairs and sofas: Make sure these pieces are positioned well away from windows in case baby takes a spill.
  • Knickknacks: Small objects that can fit inside baby's mouth and other breakable tchotchkes should be kept well beyond the reach of little hands.
  • Cords: Tuck away loose cords and cables so they can’t be used to pull down lamps and other electronics.
  • Purses and bags: Keep these safely stowed away, especially when guests come over. This can help prevent your baby from accessing small objects that will go directly into the mouth, such as coins, hard candy and medication. 
  • Plants: The leaves of some household plants can be poisonous when ingested. Besides that, small children just can’t resist a pot filled with cool, black dirt. For that reason, it’s best to keep your house plant-free for a few years.
  • Door knobs: Some babies and toddlers discover all too soon they can open the door — and bolt right outside. Thwart a would-be escape artist by keeping all exits of your home locked and secure.

The nursery

The walls are painted and stenciled, the pictures are hung, the crib is set up, the mobile is installed and the changing table is fully stocked with neatly folded stacks of receiving blankets and diapers.

While it’s hard to imagine a world in which your baby is able to get into mischief, babies grow up fast. Before you know it, they’ll be on the move in a matter of months. By baby-proofing the nursery now, your child will have a safe environment she can grow into. Here are five areas you’ll want to devote some attention to.

  • Cabinets and drawers: Babies can’t resist opening and closing a cabinet door or tugging on a dresser drawer, digging out whatever is stored inside. Locks will keep baby out and prevent pinched fingers, too.
  • Furniture: Position furniture away from the crib should baby attempt an escape. When baby inevitably climbs or pulls on bookshelves, a changing table or a dresser, have wall anchors in place to prevent tipping. 
  • Changing table: It’s weird, but even infants too young to roll can achieve feats of mobility—especially when you are trying to dislodge a baby wipe that's somehow jammed in a container. Choose a changing table with raised sides; for extra protection, always use the safety strap.
  • Flooring: Some daredevil babies learn at an early age to escape from their cribs. Install soft carpeting or a throw rug to help cushion against these and any other falls.
  • Cribs: Before baby is old enough to sit up or pull herself up on her own, remove mobiles or wall hangings, along with any other objects within reach.

The hallways

Even a hallway needs modifications so that it’s safe for your baby—and the rest of your family. After all, slips and trips are a definite danger when parents are waking up multiple times in the night. Here are the areas you’ll want to focus on to help ensure a safe passage.

  • Steps: Whether you’re busy around the house or baby is safe (you think) in the crib, it’s a good idea to set up a baby gate at the top and the bottom of the staircase. Also add anti-slip strips to uncarpeted stairs.   
  • Lighting: Night lights are essential when you have kids—especially if you have baby gates installed in the hallway or bedroom doorways. When you’re stumbling around in the dark to check on your waking young child, you just might forget about the baby gate you've set up. Keeping halls lit makes everything from a toddler's nighttime expeditions to a bigger kid's adventures with potty training safer.
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors: The National Fire Protection Association recommends that each bedroom and each floor of your home have a smoke detector. That means a three-level, three-bedroom house should have six detectors. Carbon monoxide can be a silent and deadly killer. That’s because it doesn’t take long for a malfunctioning furnace or water heater to quietly fill a house with this odorless gas. Install a carbon monoxide detector on each floor of the house where someone sleeps. Also install one next to every major appliance that uses natural gas. For both of these devices, test the batteries once a month.
  • Rugs: Throw rugs will skid out from under little running feet. That is especially true when little feet are dashing around stairs and corners. Rubber backing or a rug pad can hold them in place.  
  • Windows: Shorten the long cords attached to window blinds or curtains to help prevent entanglements.
  • Furniture: Anything that can tip when your little monkey attempts to climb it will need to be anchored to the wall. Get door latches and locks for drawers and cabinets. Tuck away cords attached to lamps so they can’t be pulled, and keep small and breakable objects out of reach.

Baby-proofing your home isn’t one of the more fun aspects of being a new parent. But it’s a relatively small investment of time that pays big dividends when it comes to your family’s safety.

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