Baby proofing your home: How to make your house safe for your baby

Baby proofing your home

What do I really need for baby proofing?

Baby proofing your home. It might not be something you give a lot of thought to when you are expecting your first child, as you are focusing on all the other things you need to prepare for the birth.

But when your little one starts exploring their surroundings, you will certainly know about it, and you will develop lightning fast reflexes you never even knew you had!

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It doesn’t hurt to think ahead about what you need to do to baby proof your house, just to make your life that little bit easier when the time comes.

Those first weeks and months will fly by before you know it and your curious baby will naturally be into absolutely everything.

It may be necessary to implement some or all of the baby proofing methods, depending on the layout of your home.

When should I start baby proofing?

When your baby is around 6 months old (maybe earlier or later, every child is different), and begins crawling, make sure you have taken a good look at your home and put baby proofing measures in place.

You’ll probably want to start baby proofing sooner so you don’t get caught out with a baby on the move. It’s really up to you when you do it, it’s never too soon.

Sadly, there are childhood accidents that often happen in the home, that you need to do your best to avoid.

According to the RoSPA, most accidents in the home can be prevented. 

Injuries sustained at home may include:

  • Falls on the stairs
  • Falls from beds, cots, changing tables and other heights
  • Ingesting toxic chemicals kept in cupboards, such as detergent pods and medicines
  • Hitting heads on table corners
  • Burns and scalds from kitchen hobs or other hot household items
  • Blind cord strangulation
  • Electric shocks

There are many more accidents that could happen. But there are things you can do to minimise the risk to your child.

So, what do you really need to baby proof your house? Here is a list of the main things to worry about, and how you can solve them.

Safety gates for stairs

A stair safety gate is possibly the first, and most obvious item of baby proofing equipment that comes to mind, and is absolutely vital. 

You will need stair safety gates at the top and bottom of the stairs.

At first it may seem like a pain to open and close them every single time you are going up or down the stairs, but it is important you get into the habit. 

It will soon become second nature. If you accidentally leave a gate open, you could be looking at a very serious, avoidable accident. 

Other stair safety measures include keeping the stairs free of clutter, and removing loose or damaged carpet to avoid trips and falls.

Child safety cupboard locks

Putting child safety locks on cupboards is especially important in the kitchen and bathroom, where hazardous things like cleaning products and medicines are kept.

Safer still, just in case someone forgets to put the lock on (or the baby figures out how to undo it, it’s not unheard of), keep hazardous cleaning products and medicines high out of reach.

For example, washing liquid laundry capsules with the ‘click-clack’ child lock (that as adults we can’t get into either without brute force) are very dangerous. If your baby or toddler gets hold of one of the pods and ingests it, it could be fatal.

Putting a lock on the fridge or freezer is also a good idea. You don’t want your child helping themselves to things or getting fingers trapped.

Also think about baby proofing doors in other rooms in the house, such as the washing machine and tumble dryer doors, even the toilet lid and household bin.

Drawer safety latches

Similarly as with cupboards, your baby needs to be kept out of the drawers, especially in the kitchen where you keep knives and other potentially harmful equipment.

Also think about other drawers in the house, such as solid wood units in the living room and bedrooms. Children have been known to pull them open and use them as ‘stairs’ to climb up higher.

This obviously could be an extremely serious situation if your child ends up falling from a height, or pulls a drawer open and it lands on top of them.

Put drawer safety locks on every drawer you think your baby might be curious to try and open.

Wall cabinet fixings

If your child tries to climb up a piece of furniture that is not particularly sturdy, (by pulling out drawers for example) their body weight could topple the unit and they may bring the whole thing down on top of themselves, causing serious or fatal injury.

Make sure cupboards, desks, TV cabinets, bookshelves, wardrobes and other large pieces of furniture are fixed securely to the wall so they cannot topple over.

New furniture is often supplied with its own fixings, but if not, make sure you purchase fixtures separately to secure your furniture safely to the wall.

Also look out for wobbly furniture such as as freestanding lamps and shelving, and secure them as necessary. And watch out for that Christmas tree!

Table corner protectors

Sharp table edges and corners could give your baby a nasty bump to the head. Coffee table edges are just the right height for when they are crawling and can start pulling themselves up on their feet.

Likewise with the dining table and other surface edges. Watch out for when your child gets taller and could bump their head on higher cornered surfaces and table edges.

Make table edges and corners safer by fitting silicon or foam table corner protectors. You can also buy tape that you can fix to table edges to protect against nasty bumps.

Blind cord safety clips

Looped window blind pull cords present a strangulation hazard to small children if they catch them around their necks.

According to the Child Accident Prevention Trust, around two children each year are fatally strangled by entanglement in a looped blind cord.

Make sure blind cords are always tied up well out of reach, and are fitted with blind cord safety clips. Try to ensure furniture that could be climbed on is kept away from blinds.

Better still, remove blinds with looped blind cords and install new blinds that comply with current safety standards.

Also look out for curtain pulls, drawstring bags, and other stringed or hanging objects that could present a strangulation risk.

Safety locks for windows

Depending on the style of your windows, you may need to fix window opening restrictors to make them child safe.

These limit the window opening distance, providing room ventilation while ensuring it can’t open wide enough for a tiny body to squeeze through and fall out.

When windows are closed, make sure they are locked so they can’t be accidentally opened.

Even if your windows are high up and you think there is no danger, make sure there is no furniture nearby that your child could climb on to reach them.

Fireplace guard

If you have an open fire, log burner, or other type of fire, you don’t want curious fingers touching it, and you don’t want your child to accidentally fall against it.

Protect your little one from the fire with a strong, sturdy fireplace guard. Make sure it has fixings to securely attach it to the wall.

Ensure lighters, matches and other firelighting paraphernalia is well out of reach.

You may also wish to child-proof your radiators. Check the temperature settings and use radiator covers if necessary.

Stair safety net

Depending on your home layout, gaps in your stair railings or landing balcony may be wide enough for a small head to get stuck, or for a tiny body to slip through and fall from a height.

You may need to install a sturdy safety net to keep your baby safe and prevent injury.

Cooker knob covers and stove guard

Curious little fingers may try to twiddle knobs and turn on oven and stove top cooking hobs. Cover oven and hob knobs with cooker knob covers to prevent potentially dangerous accidents.

Consider attaching an oven safety lock to prevent your little one from opening the oven door and sustaining injury.

When using oven hobs, try to keep pans and pots on the back hobs well out of reach. Get into the habit of turning pot and pan handles inwards, just in case a little hand reaches up and tries to pull it down on top of themselves.

You can also install a heat resistant stove guard or cooker barrier to prevent your little one reaching the cooker tops, which can cause scalds and burns if they have recently been used.

Plug socket covers

You don’t want your baby poking around plug sockets or trying to put things in them. If you can, try to put furniture in front of them so they can’t be reached.

Or use plug socket covers that can enclose the entire power outlet. These are difficult for children to remove, and can be used with or without a plug in the socket.

Covers for the whole outlet prevent electrical equipment from being accidentally turned off, and stop your baby from getting a nasty electric shock if they try to remove a plug.

Similarly electric cables for household equipment must be kept out of reach of your inquisitive baby. As well as posing an electrical danger, dangling wires and cables are a strangulation hazard.

Tie them up, cover them with cable tubes or use a cable tidy unit to avoid danger.

Door safety

Baby gates are not just for stairs, they are also useful for closing off other areas of the house while still leaving doors open, such as between the kitchen and living room while you are cooking.

To stop doors accidentally closing on your baby and possibly trapping hands and feet, use door stoppers to keep them wedged open. Fit door finger guards to door hinges to prevent painful finger trapping injuries.

To prevent your child opening doors, you can use childproof door handle locks to keep them out of certain rooms in the house, such as the toilet or cupboard under the stairs.

If you have doors with glass panels at your child’s height that are not made of safety glass, you can apply safety film to protect your child in case of a glass shattering incident.

You also need to be mindful of any other furniture made of glass, such as coffee tables. Make sure it complies with British safety standards, or find a way to make it safe.

Garden baby proofing

This post is about generally baby proofing inside the home. But it doesn’t hurt to mention potential hazards outside in your garden and outside spaces.

Think:

  • Can your baby fall out of the back doorstep if it’s open in warm weather?
  • Do you have a pond (even a tiny one) without a secure cover? 
  • Is there a paddling pool?
  • Do you have any buckets and other containers outside that hold rainwater?
  • Are there poisonous plants in your garden with berries that look good enough to eat?

Baby safety in other people’s homes

You need to be extra careful when visiting other people’s houses. If they don’t have young children, they won’t have baby proofing equipment in place, and may not have the same awareness about potential hazards as you do.

Don’t ever assume because they are near another adult they will be fine.

Your baby may help themselves to something they are not supposed to have. They can crawl quickly, you can turn your head the other way for a split second and they’ll be off.

The same goes for if you stay in a hotel, caravan, holiday setting or special occasions you may go to. You may need to take some baby proofing items with you.

Extra baby proofing precautions

There are some other safety precautions to consider in and around the home.

  • Do not place hot food and drink within your baby’s reach on coffee tables, side tables or kitchen sides. Even a lukewarm cup of tea can scold a small child. 
  • Keep kettles, saucepans and knives well away from kitchen worktop edges. 
  • Small children have a habit of putting things in their mouths as part of their exploratory antics. Look out for small objects lying around or within reach that present potential choking or suffocation hazards.
  • Don’t leave stools and other objects around that your baby could use to climb on to reach things – they work things out very quickly!
  • Remove anything that could cause your baby to slip or trip. Secure rugs with anti-slip rug grippers.
  • Watch out for tablecloths hanging down that your baby could grab or pull.
  • Check you don’t have any poisonous indoor plants.

Is child proofing necessary?

As you can see there are lots of potential hazards around the home that definitely require baby proofing to avoid potentially serious accidents. So yes, it is necessary.

While your child needs to learn about the world and things that can hurt them, you need to remain aware at all times to keep your child safe.

Never underestimate your baby’s abilities, they are curious and naturally love to explore the world around them. And you never know what they can do until they actually do it!

Once your baby is on the move you will need eyes in the back of your head.

It will instinctively become second nature to foresee potential accidents before they have a chance to happen. But when you’ve got stuff to do it’s virtually impossible to have your eyes everywhere at all times.

To recap, there are some important things you should do to make your baby’s home environment as safe as possible, and give you peace of mind. Including:

  • Installing stair gates and covering bannisters with safety netting
  • Putting in child safety cupboard locks and drawer safety latches
  • Fixing furniture securely to the wall
  • Fitting table corner and edge protectors
  • Securing windows and doors
  • Using safety glass whenever possible or applying shatter resistant film
  • Using a fireplace guard
  • Covering cooker knobs, plug sockets and electrical cables
  • Checking your garden and outside spaces for hazards

Accidents do happen. Make sure you have a baby first aid kit and knowledge of how to use it.

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Baby proofing tips. How to make your home safe for your baby