Parenting is a whole new world, and for many new parents, safety is the number one concern. We spend hours comparing and contrasting car seats before buying one in the weeks leading up to Baby’s birth. We read countless books and reports about how to keep our little ones safe medically. We read endless reviews to determine which shampoos, diaper creams, and lotions will not hurt delicate new skin. And we spend lots and lots of money on baby proofing.
That’s right: baby proofing. A catch-all name for all the little things we do around the house to make day-to-day life safer for our little one. Much of it isn’t a necessity right at first, but the older a child gets, the more ways they find to get into everything. Different parents take different approaches to this task. Some may opt to just have a few “baby-friendly” areas in strategic locations, cordoned off with gates. Others confine the electronics and non-baby gear to a select area. Others still aim to baby-proof everything. Whatever your style, we cover the basics here.
Image: Instagram / @babysafehomesdenver
Tried and true, the humble baby gate has long been a staple in the homes of crawlers and toddlers, and often even preschoolers. There are dozens of different varieties out there, with all sorts of variations to suit different needs. Many standard gates are held in place using tension, which is great for renters or anyone otherwise not interested in screwing something into the wall. Some gates have doors in place to make it easier for “big people” to get through them, while others are tall enough to keep Baby out of mischief but also low enough for the average person to be able to step over. There are also specially-designed gates for the tops and bottoms of staircases, and gates that are segmented to fit unusually-sized openings. Find the gates that suit your needs and get ‘em up!
Image: Instagram / @joolbaby
Depending on the layout of your house, there may be times when it’s simply easier to close a door than it is to gate off a room. And if your little one has access to the front door, then you definitely need a way to make it safe! Enter the door lock cover. There are several methods of rendering a doorknob unopenable to a small child, the most common being a device that goes over the doorknob and, when grabbed by a small hand that doesn’t know the “trick,” will just spin and spin rather than actually causing the whole knob to turn. Some have ridges in significant places, others have holes that allow adult fingers to hold onto the actual knob, and some are flexible and require the strength of an adult hand to squeeze the actual knob through the cover. Whichever kind you choose, these are fantastic for keeping kids out of bathrooms, certain bedrooms, and any room where you don’t want the baby venturing unaccompanied.
Image: Instagram / @hamesandsons
Every now and then, posts pop up on social media showing every parent’s worst nightmare: a small child opening the front door and escaping, sometimes without the parents noticing for hours. If your little one is an escape artist and you worry that a simple door knob cover may be ineffective, consider simply adding an extra lock to any doors you don’t want them opening. Various chain locks and swing door locks can be installed on a door where an adult can reach but children can’t. These kinds of locks are useful for other home security reasons, too, and are a smart idea for every front door.
Image: Instagram / @khinara_shop27
Many parents have blissfully unrealistic dreams of putting their toddler in a playpen in the living room with a handful of toys, and the child actually staying happily occupied while Mom or Dad cleans the house or works from home or even just reads a book. Most parents find that this is far from reality, but that doesn’t mean that these kinds of play yards have no place in the baby-friendly home. Play yards — think segments of baby gates that can be attached together to form a rectangle or hexagon — are actually quite versatile. They can be used to fence off areas that are far too wide for a standard baby gate, or they can be spread in an arch in front of bookshelves or televisions or other non-baby-friendly furniture and electronics that can’t realistically be removed from the room. Every home should have at least one of these around.
Image: Instagram / @everydays_a_nande
While it may seem like a bad idea to us, many children have a natural tendency to want to stick sticks or other long, slender things in holes — in the ground, in toys, and in the wall. Electrical outlets can be very dangerous for small children, who may try to put their fingers, eating utensils, or small toys inside. The best way to protect little ones from this hazard is with some kind of cover, either covering the entire outlet or something for individual plugs. All are designed to make it possible for adults to access the outlet when necessary, but many children also figure out the trick to removing them pretty quickly. Unfortunately, there’s no one “best” style for every household. You may need to try several types to figure out which ones will best thwart the curious intentions of your baby.
Image: Instagram / @muffy_muff_muff
So you’ve covered up the unused outlets, but what about the things that simply have to stay plugged in, and which can’t always be hidden behind furniture? In the baby’s room alone, there might be a lamp, a white noise machine or music player, a humidifier or vaporizer, and various other small electronics. Sometimes, cords will be out in the open. But that doesn’t mean they have to be exposed to grabby little hands. Cord covers are easy to find online, easy to install, and they conceal otherwise visible cords behind a simple piece of plastic that can usually be painted to match the rest of the decor.
If you’ve got hardwood floors decorated with area rugs, listen up. While rugs are great cushions for little knees, and are a blessing when beginning walkers lose their footing, certain types also have a tendency to slip right out from underneath the feet when those feet are running around wildly. If your area rugs aren’t already non-skid, you still have options. One is to buy a non-skid pad that can be cut to fit underneath the rug, holding it steady. Another option is to get some gripper pads, designed to stick to the rug itself at the corners and hold it in place. Finally, you can get tape that will actually hold the rug to the floor, preventing slips and falls.
Image: Instagram / @bloomingbath
Once Baby’s cord falls off and we get past those first few weeks of sponge baths, many parents find themselves confounded about how to actually go about giving a proper bath to a small person who can’t even hold their head up, much less sit properly in a tub. While specialized baby bathtubs are available, some parents don’t have enough extra closet space to store one while not in use. Enter the bathtub cushion, which is exactly what it sounds like: a soft, squishy cushion, usually non-skid on one side, which protects Baby’s back and keeps her or him comfy while you gently clean them in a normal tub or sink. Get one in your favorite color and bathe your little one in comfort!
Image: Instagram / @tranquilbeautyuk
Once Baby outgrows the baby tub or bath cushion, using a regular tub is still a daunting preposition. The vast majority of bathtubs, no matter what they’re made of, are downright slippery, which makes them pretty dangerous for little ones who are just learning to stand or walk. It’s essential to get some sort of no-slip mat to go inside the tub for just this reason. Bathtub mats come in all kinds of colors and styles, from adult-approved plain colors with pleasing textures to kiddo-friendly designs with animals or cartoon characters. A no-slip mat will save your little one from headaches and bathtime tears.
Image: Instagram / @myfriendsarefiction
If you live in an area prone to earthquakes, chances are good your furniture is (hopefully) already bolted securely to the walls. If your bookcases and dressers are standing freely, now is the time to apply some sort of wall anchor or earthquake strap to prevent accidental tip-overs. There are lots of different safety options, from L-shaped brackets that bolt to both the piece of furniture and a stud in the wall, to earthquake straps that allow a bit of give but also prevent anything from falling. Kids love to climb, and you can be assured that your little ones will try to climb their dresser eventually, so make sure you take the necessary precautions to keep them safe!
Image: Instagram / @kittybobinks
If your home has a fireplace, you need to make sure your child is protected from the flames, as well as any stray leaping embers. The easiest way to do this is with a sturdy fireplace screen, ideally one that is attached to the fireplace in some way so that small hands can’t knock it over or pull it away. Fireplace screens can be very plain and serviceable, or they can be fancy and elegant, or anywhere in between. Just make sure that the one you choose has a fine enough mesh behind the metalwork to prevent embers from reaching the carpet, where curious toes might trod upon them.
Image: Instagram / @kjenilee
Perhaps the most useful, most versatile baby-proofing device is the adjustable strap. With adhesive on both ends and an adjustable-length strap in between, these devices can be used to secure a wide variety of things and render them baby-safe but still adult-friendly. Cabinets that resist normal cabinet locks or that have no handles. Drawers. Straps can work in a pinch to secure furniture to the wall (although they shouldn’t be used as a long-term solution this way) and they can attach baby gates to places where they need to be held firm. Buy a mega-pack of straps and see how many uses you can find for them!
Image: Instagram / @marlierosenberg
Kitchens, bathrooms, and garages are often full of chemicals that we don’t want our little ones getting their hands on. And simply keeping them out of those rooms is not always an option. Fortunately, there are lots of different options for keeping curious hands out of cabinets and drawers. Different types of baby-proof cabinet latches can be used to lock handles together or simply add an extra step to the process of getting the door open, including many options that are adhesive (and removable), so that screws and drilled holes aren’t necessary. Find the type that works best for you and get them installed ASAP!
Image: Instagram / @jinnyinthebox
What on Earth is a parent to do when the knobs to the oven are set in the front, easily in reach of small hands? Aside from keeping mobile babies and toddlers out of the kitchen as much as possible, there are also, fortunately, devices out there to keep little hands from inadvertently turning on the stove. Most stove knob covers are clear, which lets worried parents easily check to see that the knobs are in the “off” position, and all can be removed by adults when it’s time to make dinner. A set of sturdy knob covers will help keep parents sane!
Image: Instagram / @firststepsbp
Kitchens are dangerous places. Between knives and other sharp utensils, heavy pots and pans, glass jars that can break, and various appliances, there’s a good reason why so many parents opt to just keep their kids out completely. Still, there will be times when toddlers sneak in after us, or learn to climb over the fence without us knowing, so it might be smart to get some kind of lock for the oven door just in case. While you can use an all-purpose sort of strap for this, there are also specialized safety devices for this! This is a safety step no parent will regret taking.
Image: Instagram / @electricaldiscountuk.co.uk
Just as we don’t want our little ones getting into a potentially hot oven, we also don’t want them getting into the dishwasher! Fortunately, many dishwashers come with a lock feature that small children usually can’t figure out (not on purpose, anyway). But if your kitchen is equipped with a dishwasher that lacks a built-in lock, be sure to pick up some sort of device on your own to get the job done. Depending on the size and shape of your machine, you might get by with a basic strap device or you might prefer a more specialized lock.
Image: Instagram / @eeexception
Window dressings are a necessity for privacy, and many homes have some form of window blinds to block light and unwanted eyes. But the cords from those blinds have the potential to be dangerous; they are a recognized choking hazard. What can the concerned parent do? The most common way of handling blind cords is with a device called a cleat, which is mounted on the wall near the blinds so that the cord can be safely wrapped around it when not directly in use. Alternatives exist, though, so shop around and find an idea that suits your home while keeping your little one safe.
Image: Instagram / @showerclear
No one wants their child to accidentally get burned by hot water. Many parents buy some kind of bath thermometer when their kid is quite little, assuming they didn’t somehow acquire one before the birth. But a little extra precaution in the bathroom never hurts, and that’s where an anti-scald device comes in. These metal tubes go between the showerhead and the water pipe, and they sense the temperature of the water coming out. If the water gets close to too hot, the anti-scald device shuts it down before Baby gets burned! This is a smart idea for every home
Image: Instagram / @rootandroamhome
Washers and dryers are some of the most useful appliances in our homes, but any machine that loads from the front — at perfect kid level — is a potential hazard. Washers and dryers, in particular, seem really inviting to kids playing at hide and seek, but kids often don’t understand the danger of climbing into these machines. Please, secure yours with some sort of lock if your small children have access to them! There are devices designed to lock them closed, similar to what you’ll find for ovens and dishwashers, or you can always use an all-purpose strap. You can never be too cautious!
Image: Instagram / @babyproofing.jo
Desks, coffee tables, dining tables, and any number of other pieces of furniture will likely have corners. And those corners are dangerous to kids who are just learning to walk, as well as to bigger kids who are constantly running around and ignoring Mom’s admonitions to walk, for goodness’ sake. Fortunately, there are all manner of soft bumper pads that can be applied to the corners and edges of furniture in Baby’s room and other particularly hazardous locations. Most are peel-and-stick, and will protect small bodies from getting too banged up. Corner bumpers are definitely a worthy addition to the baby-proofing list.
Image: Instagram / @paochangtsai
All parents worry about their kids getting to the windows. We worry about them popping out the window screen. We worry about them cracking the glass. And we worry about them straight-up falling out, especially if the house is two or more stories or if you live in an upper-story apartment. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to add an extra lock to most windows. The easiest kinds are essentially clamps that attach to the window frame, preventing the window from being opened beyond a certain amount, but other kinds are available, too. An extra window lock is essential with kids.
Image: Instagram / @exoticwoodsinc
If you live in a dwelling with floor vents of any kind, for air conditioning or heating, it won’t take long for a curious toddler to discover them. And, if they’re not attached to the floor, before you know it your child will be pulling the register cover up all the time. Throwing toys into it? Possibly. Trying to climb in? Who knows?!? A parent’s best bet is to secure the registers in some way. Screw them into the floor. Get a cover that either goes on the outside or the inside, so nothing can be stuffed inside. Put furniture over it. Just make sure you do something to keep curious hands away.
Image: Instagram / @babyguardhouston
If you have a backyard pool, putting a fence of some sort around it is absolutely essential! So many kids die from drowning every year, even those who have had swimming lessons and safety courses and heard the rules from you over and over and over again. Don’t take chances. Put up a locked gate around the pool, and be sure your youngsters don’t know where the key is; no one should be near the water without an adult present. A solid fence with a locked gate is an important step to take to keep your child safe.
Image: Instagram / @excellodoor
Does your home have a garage? Aside from the usual baby-proofing rules (keep Baby out as much as possible; secure chemicals and dangerous tools out of baby’s reach), one important consideration is the garage door. Nearly all garage doors come with some sort of sensor that, at the very least, will stop the door from closing if there’s something in its path. Most garage doors actually reverse course, minimizing the danger of your child accidentally getting trapped under a closing door. Make sure, too, that you engage the manual door lock, so that your child can’t push the button and open the door without you knowing.
Image: Instagram / @techyourspace
Smoke detectors are a no-brainer in any home, a recognized life-saver that will wake the whole family up when a certain amount of smoke is detected within the dwelling. However, different states have different laws, and parents might be surprised at the gaps between common sense and what home builders and owners of rental dwellings are actually required to install. Every bedroom should have a smoke detector. There should be one in the hall outside the bedrooms. There should be at least one on every floor, including the basement. Be sure your home — and your family — is protected.
Image: Instagram / @morse_security
Carbon monoxide is a natural gas that is used in many homes in furnaces, gas stoves, water heaters, and fireplaces. But heavy concentration can be deadly, which is why it’s so essential to make sure your home is equipped with a carbon monoxide detector. Steer clear of those combination smoke/carbon monoxide detectors; smoke rises, but carbon monoxide tends to hang out near the floor, so there’s no effective place to put a combo device. Instead, get a dedicated carbon monoxide detector. It’s recommended to have one on each floor of the house, including an extra one outside of sleeping areas.
Image: Instagram / @tigermedicalinc
A surprising number of parents don’t think about the importance of a well-stocked first-aid kit until they find themselves in need. Make sure you have all the basics: Bandages, gauze pads, adhesive tape, antibiotic ointment, alcohol swabs. Liquid bandage can be helpful, as well as a baggie of clean rags to deal with bleeding. Consider a styptic stick, which can seal the skin together and stop bleeding. And, of course, make sure you likewise have a well-stocked medicine cabinet. Pain reliever, fever reducer, allergy medicine, and other age-appropriate medicines can save your sanity when your little ones get hurt or come down with something.