How to childproof your home
Wondering how much you really need to childproof your home? We’ll examine each space in your home so that you can figure out what’s needed to limit the risk of injury to the most precious human on the planet (i.e. your child). Read on for room-by-room tips.
IN THIS ARTICLE:
How to childproof your home checklist
Childproofing your home can seem daunting. Try breaking down the tasks by room or category to help keep them more manageable. Here are some of the things you’ll want to consider when childproofing your home:
Your baby will need a safe place to sleep. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends using a crib or other firm, flat, non-inclined sleep surface. If your window treatments or monitors have cords, make sure they remain out of reach from your baby’s sleep space and all heavy furniture is anchored to the wall.
You can view our 7 tips for crib safety here.
If there’s one certainty in life, it’s that toddlers will open kitchen drawers and cabinets and explore the contents — usually by dumping everything onto the floor. Keep the knives, kitchen cleaners, and other potentially dangerous contents out of reach by using childproof locks and latches. Parenting a very curious child? You may want to also consider burner knob covers and stove locks when they’re tall enough to reach.
Keep those medicines up, out of reach, and locked away. Bathroom cleaners will also need to be kept out of reach. While you’re at it, make sure lotions, creams, and makeup are inaccessible too. Good thing you’ll already be a pro at installing cabinet locks after childproofing the kitchen.
Will you need to lock the toilet too? That really depends on your child. Some little ones never get into toilet-related mischief, while others love to throw their rubber ducks into the world’s grossest “pond.” (On a related note, be sure the hair dye for covering all your new grays is also unreachable.)
Gates are your new best friends. Use them to block the top and bottom of stairs to prevent falls. They’re also great for creating safe zones if you want the ability to leave your child safely unattended for any period of time.
If you or your neighbors have a pool, the AAP recommends ensuring there’s at least a 4-foot-high (1.2 m) four-sided fence with a self-closing, self-latching gate surrounding the pool.
At the risk of sounding repetitive, you’ll want to lock up any dangerous substances (e.g., pesticides, cleaners, paint). Prevent access to these spaces by keeping doors consistently locked.
Ensure the automatic reversing mechanism is working on your garage door. Make sure to set your hot water heater to a safe temperature (120°F or lower) to help prevent burns from faucets and taps.
9 Tips and tricks for childproofing
Childproofing isn’t a substitution for supervision, but it’s also not feasible to keep your eyes on your child 24/7. How much you decide to childproof your home will depend on your parenting style and available resources. While the childproofing industry has a device for every potential risk, not all parents can (or want to) try preventing every conceivable injury. Here are our top childproofing considerations:
(Tip 1) Anchor furniture to walls
Kids will explore and climb. Prevent heavy furniture and television tip-overs by anchoring them to the wall. The AAP shares how-to tips here.
(Tip 2) Keep medicines and poisons out of reach
The risk of unintentional poisonings in the home can be reduced by moving and/or locking up medicines, cleaners, and other chemicals so that they remain out of reach of children. One 2020 study found that toilet cleaner was the most common household poisoning agent.
Some household plants can be poisonous too. Contact poison control if you suspect poisoning.
(Tip 3) Blunt sharp corners
We’re not suggesting you cover the entire house in bubble wrap. But sharp corners and hard edges on tables and other items of furniture are infamous for making unforgiving contact with children’s noggins. Soft cushions and guards can help soften the blow if your child falls into the furniture.
(Tip 4) Invest in alarms
Place smoke alarms outside each bedroom, and ensure you have at least one on every floor of your home. Make a regular schedule for changing the batteries (like when daylight saving time begins and ends).
You’ll also want to equip your home with carbon monoxide detectors. According to the AAP, about 20,000 people go to the emergency room for carbon monoxide poisoning each year.
(Tip 5) Avoid small toys and other choking hazards
Help prevent choking by keeping small toys and other small items (e.g., coins, pet food, and batteries) away from babies and young children. View a more comprehensive list of choking hazards here.
(Tip 6) Remove strangulation hazards
Choose window treatments without cords or strings. Window blind cords-related injuries are far too common, and as one 2018 study pointed out, still frequently results in hospitalization or death.
(Tip 7) Block outlets
Electrical outlets can be especially tempting to kids — they’re at eye level and almost seem to invite investigation from exploring fingers. Help prevent electrical shock by using plastic plug covers or opting for a sliding style of outlet.
(Tip 8) Prioritize firearm safety
There’s been a sharp increase in firearm-related deaths among children and adolescents in recent years. Gun owners should keep all guns locked and unloaded. Ammunition should be locked away and stored separately. According to the AAP, unintentional shootings and suicide rates for children and adolescents are four times higher when there are guns in the home.
(Tip 9) Create safe spaces
Try as you might, you can’t remove all dangers. Once your baby starts to become mobile, it helps to have at least one designated spot in the house where you can safely leave your baby unattended to play when you need to attend to a task or take a few minutes to yourself. Gate off a well-childproofed room or use a freestanding gated play yard for peace of mind. You can also use their crib or pack and play for worry-free playtime.
Why childproofing is important
Kids will get hurt; it’s a fact of life. Accidents (such as falls, drowning, poisoning, and insect bites) are the leading cause of death for toddlers and preschoolers between 1 - 4 years old. However, childproofing can help prevent minor and major injuries in the home, as well as death — which means that it can also bring peace of mind for parents.
Q: What things do I childproof in my home?
Anchor furniture and televisions to walls to prevent tip-overs. Lock up medicines, chemicals, and other poisonous substances so they remain out of reach. Remove strangulation hazards, such as window blind cords, as well as choking hazards (e.g., small toys and objects) from your child’s reach.
Q: What age can you childproof your house?
Childproofing begins when you set up a safe space for your newborn to sleep (i.e. a firm, flat surface without bumpers, pillows, or loose blankets). As your child gets older, you’ll need to continue to make adjustments to the spaces within their reach.
Q: How to childproof your home at night?
Unless you share a room with your child and have the same bedtime, they’ll likely spend some time unattended in their bedroom. Childproof their room and use gates to ensure they don’t wander freely into other areas of the home at night.
Q: Do I need to childproof my house?
Childproofing your home can help prevent injuries and death by reducing the risk of common accidents, such as furniture tip-overs, poisonings, and falls.
Q: At what age do you stop using baby gates?
This depends on the size and mobility of your child, along with your personal preferences. Taller children are often able to climb over gates, which can create its own risk of falling.
Note: The content on this site is for informational purposes only and should not replace medical advice from your doctor, pediatrician, or medical professional. If you have questions or concerns, you should contact a medical professional.