5 Tips for Baby Proofing Your Home
September 25, 2023
A lot of things change when you’re expecting a baby, and one of those big changes is rethinking the setup of your home. Things as innocuous as corded blinds on your windows or a handful of coins on the coffee table can cause devastating injury or death to a curious infant or toddler. Baby proofing your home is a necessary step that parents should take before their little one is mobile, or–even better–before they arrive. It’s easy enough to find a standard checklist that goes over common hazards, such as anchoring heavy furniture to prevent tip-overs, or installing baby gates at the top and bottom of staircases to prevent falls, but baby proofing is an active, ongoing process that includes being constantly mindful. With so many things to lock and keep away from little hands and mouths, it’s easy to overlook a few small things that can pose major hazards. Here are five tips for baby proofing your home that go beyond edge protectors and cabinet locks, so you can keep your little one safe.
1. Create a safe and secure play space on the floor
Although baby containers like bouncers and swings can be helpful when you need a safe place to put your baby down, experts recommend that you limit their use to no more than 20 minutes a day. Overuse puts your baby at risk for container baby syndrome, and once your little one is more mobile, they’ll prefer to spend time on the floor anyway. Use a playpen and a soft play mat to create a safe, enclosed space on the floor that not only gives your little one the freedom they need to explore their environment and move their bodies, but also allows you to step away with peace of mind. Of course, your baby should always be supervised, but setting up a secure play area in this way means that you can stay close by, while freeing up some time to do household tasks like fold laundry or put together a quick meal. Thanks to the Toki mat’s portable design, you can easily move your little one’s play space from room to room, depending on where you need to go. Simply lay your mat down, set up the playpen around it, throw in your little one’s favorite toys or play gym, and set down your baby. Our mats are made from thick latex foam that’s certified non-toxic and provides a super soft, responsive surface to cushion fall.
2. Get rid of any and all cords
Any dangling cords in your home are a huge strangulation hazard to small children who can become entangled. Although getting rid of corded blinds on windows is a standard step in baby proofing, it’s important to be aware of the many other unexpected ways that children can get tangled up in cords. For instance, babies and young children should never wear hoodies or clothing with drawstrings, which can get caught during play or sleep. Cut any and all strings out of your little one’s clothes, including the ones on mittens. Hanging up bags on coat hooks is a standard practice for many people, but long or thin straps within your baby or toddler’s reach can be another strangulation hazard. To minimize risk, don’t hang purses or backpacks on door handles or coat hooks where your child can get tangled in the straps. Remember, strangulation is silent!
3. Turn pot and pan handles inward
Before becoming a parent, it’s likely that you never thought twice about how you put a pan on the stove. Now that you’ve got a little one to think about, make a habit of turning the handles of your pots and pans inward after you set it down. Young children are highly curious and as they become more mobile, the handle of a pan is directly in their field of vision when they look up from where they’re standing. Once your little one is able to pull to stand, they’ll likely be grabbing everything within reach because their natural curiosity compels them to explore their environment. We all know how quick babies can be, and when you’re busy cooking, all it takes is one second for them to pull a pan of burning hot food or a pot of boiling liquid all over themselves. It’s a bone-chilling thought and one that you definitely don’t want to make a reality, so always make sure the handles face inward and out of reach.
4. Keep button batteries locked away
Button batteries are small, coin-shaped batteries that are used in many household objects, including key fobs, remote controls, children’s toys, hearing aids, thermometers, watches, and more. When replacing a battery, it’s easy to accidentally leave the old one out. But, it’s important to keep in mind that a battery stops powering a device before it runs out of charge, and when one finds its way into a child’s nose or mouth, it can quickly become deadly. When the battery gets stuck in your baby’s or toddler’s throat, their saliva can interact with the current and cause a chemical reaction that burns through the esophagus in as little as two hours. If you keep these batteries in your home, keep them locked away out of reach, and always be sure to properly dispose of the old ones after use. You can also take the extra step to secure the battery package closed and keep note of how many are in the package every time one is removed, so you can easily figure out if one is missing.
5. Keep plastic bags out of reach
It’s a common practice for people to keep all their plastic bags in an easily accessible place in the kitchen. After all, we use them to line trash cans or dispose of food scraps while we’re cooking, and we want to be able to quickly grab one whenever we need it. Although plastic bags serve many purposes within our homes, babies and toddlers may accidentally or playfully pull one over their head, leading to suffocation. Thin plastics, like the bags you use when purchasing produce, pose an even higher suffocation risk because of their ability to easily stick to your child’s face. Always keep these bags locked away or high out of your child’s reach, and be vigilant for any bags left behind after unpacking groceries.
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About the Author: Alice
Alice Mendoza is a copywriter and blog writer based in Los Angeles. She began writing for a baby brand while on maternity leave, and realized she had found her niche. Today, she writes exclusively within the baby space, using her BFA in Creative Writing and her own experience as a mother to guide her. When she’s not working, you can find her chasing down her toddler, going on walks around the neighborhood, or watching reality TV.