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Baby-proofing your home
A baby who’s mobile—crawling or cruising—is a baby determined to explore everything in her path. For the most part you want to encourage her exploration. The safer you make her environment, the less you have to say ‘No.’ The zone in your house that you’ll be child-proofing extends from the floor to a point high above your child’s reach. Keep in mind that no amount of childproofing can replace you. Always keep an eye on your baby at this stage.

How to child-proof your house:

  • Remove all breakables such as vases, ornaments, picture frames, and ashtrays from tables.

  • Hide electrical cords behind furniture or under rugs, or tape them in place. Tie up window blind cords.

  • Stabilize bookcases, television tables, or other heavy pieces of household furniture that could flip if baby holds on to them to pull himself up.

  • Temporarily remove floor lamps or find a way to secure them to the floor.

  • Pad the corners of coffee tables and glass-topped tables, or remove them temporarily.

  • Don’t leave recliners with footrests in the upright position—to guard against baby becoming entrapped or pinching his fingers.

  • Garbage pails should have lids baby cannot remove.

  • Toilet lids should lock.

  • Set your house’s hot water heater to the low setting (around 120°F).

  • Watch for paper clips, coins, and other small objects that may be lying around. Baby could choke on them.

  • Safety-lock cabinets or drawers, or fill them with things baby can play with safely.

  • Cover electrical outlets with special plates or plastic inserts. Cover radiators.

  • To prevent baby from falling, put up non-accordion type gates at the top and bottom of the stairs and keep them latched.

  • Cover stair railings, banisters, or deck railings with safety mesh if there are spaces greater than three inches.

  • Install window guards in your house. Screens alone aren’t safe.

  • Secure small rugs to the floor with non-slip backing or tape.

  • Toy chests should be lidless or else close in a safe way, so baby doesn’t get trapped inside or have fingers pinched by the lid.

  • Be sure painted surfaces your baby might chew on are lead-free.

  • Put up telephone cords so that they are out of your baby’s reach.

Keep out of reach

Never keep liquor, poisons, detergents, or other household chemicals in cabinets at your baby’s level. Matches and lighters should always be kept in the same place on a high shelf in your house. Keep houseplants, appliance cords, pot handles, pet food, and water dishes well out of reach.
Dr. Bettye M. Caldwell Ph.D. Professor of Pediatrics in Child Development and Education