How to Baby Proof Your Home – Baby Proofing 101

baby proofing

You’ve got a new baby coming, and somewhere in all that excitement, there’s something important you have to do: baby proof your home. But where do you even get started?

First, Don’t Panic: It’s Not That Hard

Baby proofing your home requires that you be detail-oriented and vigilant. As you look around your home, you may start to see a nightmare of things that could be dangerous. Bookends that could be pulled down from shelves. Outlets that could be poked and prodded. But rather than getting overwhelmed, you need to approach the process systematically.

We’re here to help.

The easiest way to baby proof your home is to start with one area and then move on to another, one at a time. Like any large task, it’s easier to break it into smaller ones. By going room by room, you’ll find that you can baby proof your home in virtually no time at all.

What follows is a complete checklist for baby proofing your home without losing your mind or patience!

I. High Traffic Areas Like Stairs, Hallways, Entryways

These areas can be dangerous for multiple reasons. First, you’re usually distracted when you’re moving through them. When guests come in and out, it can be hectic. It’s a narrow area, which can be inherently difficult to navigate. And children can be escape artists.

1. Install a baby gate at the top of each set of stairs.

baby proofing

The first place you should install baby gates is around stairs. Stairs are dangerous even to adults. As babies start to travel, they won’t inherently know the danger of stairs, or changes in elevation.

2. Install a baby gate at the bottom of each set of stairs.

It’s not enough to just install baby gates at the top of stairs. The bottom of stairs need to be protected too. Otherwise, babies can climb up the stairs and fall down them. 

3. Install a baby gate at the outside steps.

Babies are escape artists. It’s often the case that a parent doesn’t realize their child has even left until they see them outside. If there are stairs around your porch, you should protect them with a baby gate, too.

4. Install handrails on stairs.

As your child gets older, they will need handrails to make it easier for them to go up and down stairs. Consider installing handrails now; babies grow up and become mobile faster than you think. The best way to prevent your child from getting injured when doing something is to show them the proper way to do it. 

5. Check the spacing of your banisters.

Your banisters and railings shouldn’t be more than 4 inches apart, or a child may be able to fit through it. A child can often fit through anything their head can fit through, and inquisitive children can get stuck or fall through railings easily.

6. Make sure nothing is loose on your banisters.

In older homes, especially, there are sometimes loose railings that people just live with. Take the time to test your banisters now, because your children certainly will!

7. Think about cushioning your stairways.

Carpet-coated stairways aren’t just safer, but also more comfortable. Consider installing carpet on your stairways to give them more traction.

8. Install anti-slip treads on stairways.

If you have hardwood stairs, anti-slip treads are better for everyone, not just children. Consider installing them to make sure that you don’t fall when carrying your child. 

9. Remove any wall hangings.

Children will either intentionally pull on and climb wall hangings, or toddlers might accidentally grab them when trying to stabilize themselves. Either way, the time to get rid of them is now.

10. Change up the light fixtures.

baby proofing

Light fixtures can become alarmingly hot, but adults know not to touch them. Replace any light fixtures that have hot bulbs, and keep them in areas where your baby can’t reach.

11. Check for loose furnishings and decor.

Anything that wobbles or can be picked up is going to need to be stored in a safe place until your baby is much older. Particularly heavy items, like paper weights, need to be moved somewhere where a child can’t find them.

Get into the habit: Keep your doors closed. In halls and other high traffic areas, the default might currently be to keep your doors open. But keeping your doors closed is much safer. Get into the habit of regularly closing them. 

12. Tape down any of your rugs.

When rugs get pulled up, they can present a tripping hazard. That’s an issue both for a toddler and for you, if you’re carrying your baby. Make sure rugs are well-secured. 

13. Check your shoe and coat racks.

Shoe racks invite trouble, as do wobbly coat racks. Consider putting shoe racks and coat racks in a closet away from your baby, rather than having them out in the open. It’s a little less convenient, but more tidy!

14. Install child-proof locks on your doors.

All your doors should have child-proof locks, on the odd occasion that your child decides to try to open doors. As your baby gets older, he or she may start to climb things and try to open doors, because they know that adults open them.

15. Alarm your entryway.

When your door opens, you want to know. Alarm your back and front doors so you hear a sound when the doors open. Not only is it safer for you and your baby, but it’ll tell you if they’re making a break for it!

Get into the habit: Make sure your floor is kept dry. Sometimes a mudroom may be a little wet during the rain, and that’s fine except if a child can access the area. Clean spills quickly!

16.  Install gates at the entryway and hallways.

Baby gates are the best way to make sure your child doesn’t try to run out when guests are coming in. Find the right baby gate: One that’s easy to open and close. The easier it is to use, the more likely you are to use it.

II. Your Bathrooms and Laundry Area

Your bathroom and your laundry area will likely remain closed off unless you have specifically brought your baby into the area. But accidents can happen, and there are times when anyone may not be paying attention. It’s still important to baby proof these areas.

17. Get a temperature checker for the water.

Sometimes the water can feel fine to you, but be too hot for a child. Babies can’t regulate their temperature the way that adults can. Get a floating temperature checker so you know the water is always in a safe zone.

Get into the habit: Always supervise your child in the tub, even as your baby gets older. Tubs are very dangerous even to older toddlers; a toddler can drown in as little as a few inches of water!

18. Install non-skid floor mats, for yourself and your child. 

Your child will find bathing more comfortable with a non-skid mat in the tub itself, and you will find bathing your child safer if you have a floor mat outside the tub.

19. Put a cover on the spout.

baby proofing

The bath spout can heat up uncomfortably warm and can even be sharp. There are friendly-looking spout covers that are both fun and safer for your baby.

20. Lock the toilet seat.

Children can try to get into the toilet seat and either get hit by the seat cover or get into the water. Neither is something you want to deal with! Get a locking toilet seat to fix the problem.

21. Put away your electrical appliances.

You might be used to keeping a hair dryer or electric razor out, but now is the time to lock those items away. Put your electrical appliances somewhere safe where they can’t be reached. 

22. Place your medications out of reach.

A medication cabinet is perfect for this, especially if it locks. Don’t forget that mischievous older children can get a stool and try to reach things, especially if they see their parents going into a cabinet.

23. Secure toiletries and sharp objects.

Make sure your toiletries and sharp objects are similarly put away; in fact, you might want to put them in a medicine cabinet with your medicine. A baby will put anything in their mouth!

Get into the habit: Up your cleaning regimen. Even if you were clean before, it’s important to start cleaning up more frequently. Babies can be exposed to diseases and illness more easily than adults.

24. Store your chemical solutions carefully.

Bleach and other chemical solutions can be dangerous to children, even if they have child-proofed caps. Many people store these under the counter. Make sure the cabinets lock!

25. Get a stepstool.

A child’s stepstool helps them take care of tasks, like brushing their teeth, without danger. Consider investing in a stepstool now, as your baby will grow up faster than you think.

26. Lock down the washing machine and dryer.

In the laundry room, the washing machine and dryer are both more dangerous than it seems. Children can climb into these or pull them down. Make sure they’re fastened to the wall and the doors lock.

27. Lock up your detergent and bleach.

Your cleaning supplies should be far above where your child could access them, or locked away. 

Get into the habit: Keep sinks and buckets empty. Children can drown easily in even a bucket. Get into the habit of emptying them out immediately when you’re done using them.

28. Lock down your iron and ironing board.

Ironing boards are often unstable and can be pulled down, or have moving parts that can pinch. Your iron is also heavy and can be pulled by the cord. Store these safely in a closet when not in use.

29. Store your laundry basket away.

baby proofing

Laundry baskets can seem like toys, but a child can fall into them and get hurt. Make sure they lock on the top, or are stored away.

30. Baby gate the laundry room area.

In general, the baby shouldn’t ever be in the laundry area. Consider installing a baby gate to keep them out!

III. The Baby’s Room and Your Room

Your baby’s room is likely where your child is going to spend the most time uninterrupted. You need to make sure both your baby’s room and your room are baby-safe, even if you intend to be vigilant and watching.

31. Do your research when it comes to a crib.

Some cribs are safer than others. Look up reviews and make sure that you look at them in person before you buy one.

32. Don’t over-fill the crib. 

Blankets and pillows may be comfortable, but they can also pose a suffocation risk. A light blanket and a mattress is all a baby needs to sleep in comfort, especially when very young. As they are older, you can add more things.

33. Position the bed correctly.

The bed should be positioned away from anything your baby could yank on or grab, and away from heat sources like heating vents and radiators.

34. Avoid any hanging objects.

Hanging objects like window coverings and drapery pulls can be very dangerous. Pull them up out of the way and keep cords well above reachable height.

35. Look for heat sources.

Heating vents can easily disrupt your child’s sleep or even be dangerous if they become too hot. Use vent covers and make sure your radiator has been protected.

36. Do your research on co-sleeping.

Many parents want to co-sleep, which simply means sleeping in close proximity to your child, but there can be dangers. Do some research and make the decision that’s best for you and your family.

37. Install a monitoring device.

Nanny cams are one of the best ways to make sure that you always have eyes on your child, and are able to notice anything wrong quickly.

38. Secure dressers and tall furniture.

Babies can and will start to climb furniture as they get older. Avoid any dangerous events by securing them directly to the wall with mounting brackets.

39. Secure your windows.

A child can climb out of a window very easily. This is important if you’re on the 2nd floor or above, but it’s still a good idea even if you’re on the ground floor.

40. Cover all electrical outlets.

Your child is going to start experimenting with electrical outlets very fast. Electrical outlets, especially in a room they’re in very often, should all be covered.

41. Install fire alarms.

An extra fire alarm and carbon dioxide (CO2) monitor should be installed in your child’s room, just in case. Fires can happen as freak accidents, sometimes due to older wiring.

Get into the habit: Fire escape plans are an important part of being a household. Practice your fire escape plans periodically to make sure you know what to do in an emergency.

IV. Inside Your Kitchen and Eating Areas

People spend so much time in their kitchen cooking that children are also going to spend a lot of time there, too. But with sharp implements and heavy appliances, it can be dangerous.

42. Have a fire extinguisher available.

baby proofing

You should have a fire extinguisher readily available just in case a fire does break out. Brush up on fire safety and what to do during a grease fire or other fire.

43. Cover the knobs of your stove.

This is especially important with a gas stove, as children are going to want to twist those knobs!

44. Don’t keep loose appliances and utensils.

Do you usually keep utensils or knives in an open container? It’s time to start putting them away. Your child can push a chair up to a counter and get at them, once they start walking.

45. Eliminate any hanging cords.

If your appliances have hanging cords, they can get pulled down on your child. Make sure they’re tucked away in your upper cabinets.

46. Lock your refrigerator and freezer.

Today, it’s harder for children to get locked in refrigerators and freezers. But not impossible. Lock refrigerators, freezers, cabinets, and drawers to avoid danger and destruction.

Get into the habit: Make sure you put everything away. Once you’re done cooking, tuck everything away, so there are fewer things your child could get ahold of.

47. Put your plants up high (and research them properly).

There are some plants that are toxic when eaten, but you’d never know it — most people don’t expect to eat their plants!

48. Store (or throw away) your plastic bags.

Are you even an adult if you don’t have a bag full of other plastic bags? But once you have a child, you’re going to need to store this correctly. Children can suffocate easily if they get ahold of one, and it can happen in a matter of minutes.

49. Lock up your trash cans.

Many people keep trash cans in their kitchen and dining area. Keep them under the cabinet or lock them up. If you’ve got a trash can that automatically opens and closes (through motion detection), this is even more important. 

V. Your Living Areas and Work Areas

Your child usually won’t be in these areas unattended, but they can still be dangerous. When children are in a living area, it’s sometimes when company is over — and only a minute of inattention could lead to disaster.

50. Use baby gates throughout.

Your best defense in areas as large as a living area is to use baby gates to section it off. For work areas, use a baby gate to close off the entire office, so they can’t get in.

51. Consider the purchase of a playpen.

A play pen eliminates a lot of danger, by making sure your child stays in a single location. But don’t rely just on a playpen, because your child could get out!

52. Put bumpers on coffee tables and end tables.

Coffee tables and end tables are the perfect height to hurt young skulls. Put bumpers on all sharp areas to avoid any damage (and to protect your own knees, too).

Get into the habit: Don’t fall asleep with baby on the couch! While it’s tempting, it can be dangerous. As your child grows older, you can relax this restriction.

53. Add brackets to any bookcases and other heavy furniture.

Consider wall-mounting televisions and adding brackets to heavy furniture, such as grandfather clocks, because they’re climbable. 

Get into the habit: Cleaning frequently will reduce the chances that your child could run into dangerous hazards. Picking up and vacuuming regularly is going to become essential, especially as your child gets older and starts scattering things around!

54. Secure cords and electronics.

As with other rooms, make sure cords, electronics, and other devices are secure and out of reach. Cover all the outlets and invest in baby-safe power strips.

55. Store things that may be intriguing as far away as possible.

If you have games that you play with your child, make sure they aren’t stored on a shelf they could reach. They may be inclined to climb up to them.

56. Invest in a safe.

Some things are never going to be safe for a child, such as guns and knives. If you have anything that you need to keep away from your child, invest in a safe and keep it in a locked safe at all times.

It’s Time to Get Started

No parent, no matter how good a parent they are, can watch their child 100% of the time. It’s all about minimizing risk. Baby gates are one of the most critical products you can invest in, because they control where your child has access to. There will always be some dangerous items in a home, whether it’s a simple plastic bag or a bucket full of bleach water. But by reducing the areas your child has access to, you can ensure that your child doesn’t gain access to dangerous items when they aren’t being watched.

Last updated on May 29th, 2020 at 08:26 am

Francine Wingard

I was always around kids since I was just a little girl, babysitting my siblings. When I turned 15 my parents allowed me to become a part-time nanny. Now I’m a full-time mom of 2 beautiful angels. If you’re as concerned about your baby’s safety as I am, consider Modern Baby Advice to be your new home.