One of the most important jobs of a parent is childproofing your home. This not only applies to your home, but any place your kids will spend any length of time. This could be grandma's house, the babysitter, a hotel room, etc.
As parents, we must find a balance between letting our little ones explore their environment while protecting them from danger.
Childproofing your home and safety needs change as little ones grow and can vary from kid to kid. For instance, I had to baby proof everything with my son. With my second daughter I didn't really have to baby proof that much.
Every kid is different and it's up to us as parents to be watchful of their moves and prevent them from getting into anything dangerous.
Invariably there's always one partner in a relationship that is more "cautious" with kids and better at childproofing than the other. I am the "cautious" one, while my husband is a bit more liberal with the kids.
When our son was born I was constantly reminding him to be careful with the baby as you never know what they are going to do next. For instance, when my son was just three months, my husband never would have thought he would roll over yet. Well he did.
I had left the room and my husband left the baby on the bed "just for a second" and he rolled off onto the wood floor. Did I mention we have one of those extra high beds?
I ran back into the room when I heard my son screaming as I'd never heard before. Luckily everything was fine and my husband learned a hard lesson that day… You never know what development stage your kid is at. In other words, you never know what they are capable of so be vigilant in childproofing your home!
Below is a room to room guide for childproofing your home. As I said, every child is different, so don't take this guide as all inclusive. Just use it as a guide and adjust it to your child's needs.
With all the baby stuff that goes into your baby's room, there's a lot to keep this room in check safety wise.
Crib: Put your baby to sleep on their back. Don't put any soft bedding in the crib. Only use a mattress pad and a tight fitted sheet. No toys in the crib either and the mobile shouldn't be used past five months of age or when your baby can push up on their hands and knees. Crib slats should be 2-3/8 inches apart or less so your baby's head can't get trapped.
Changing Table: Use a safety strap, keep all your changing supplies within reach, and never leave your baby on the table alone, not even for a split second.
Toys: Don't put toys anywhere near or in the crib. Make sure you have age appropriate toys too. A good rule of thumb is if it can fit inside a toilet paper tube, then it's a choking hazard and a child under three should not have access to it.
Toy Chests: I don't like these just for the clutter they create. I really don't like them because they're a safety hazard. Young children love to climb in things and a child could climb into a toy chest, have it close on themselves, and then they can't open it.
Window Coverings: Don't place a crib near a window. A baby could get a hold of the cords for blinds and risk being strangled.
Use cord winders you can purchase at the local hardware supply to secure cords when you open blinds.
Be sure to continue childproofing your home on the outside beginning with the garage.
Garage Doors: Automatic garage door openers should have a safety mechanism of sensors installed that can sense when something is in the way. If the sensor senses something is there, it will reverse when it hits the item. This can prevent a young child from being trapped and killed under a closing garage door.
Chemicals: Keep all paints, varnishes, and chemicals out of reach. Storage areas should be locked and off-limits.
Tools: All tools should be kept out of a child's reach. Although a young child may want to mimic dad working on tools and it may be cute, it's really unsafe. Be sure to unplug and move all your power tools out of the way when your going to be away from them even for a second. Young children are so quick and you want to avoid them getting a hold of any dangerous tool.
Fire Extinguishers: Keep one on hand and easily accessible by adults, not little ones.
Drawers and Cabinets: It's just easier to childproof all of these with child locks. If you don't install childproof locks on drawers, you not only risk your child getting into something dangerous, they could pull a drawer out on top of themselves.
Cleaners: Either store in a really high cabinet that there is no way a child could climb up and get at or store under the sink with a childproof lock on the door.
High chairs: Keep the tray on these always. My kids love to climb up in their high chairs when they see I've left the tray off. Use the safety straps too for your escape artist. Be sure to clean these good as you don't want risk food poisoning.
To effectively clean your high chair you'll need to wash the cover (if it has one) regularly. This depends on how dirty your child gets the cover. My children got it so dirty, I just removed it and threw it out. For more info on cleaning high chairs, see my page on daily kitchen cleaning. Just remember that any surface your baby eats off of that you clean with a chemical cleaner, you will need to go back and thoroughly rinse with water. Otherwise you risk poisoning your child.
Baby bottles: Use a baby bottle heater. Don't use the microwave as they heat unevenly and you risk burning your baby's mouth.
Furniture: Either remove or place cushion material on any furniture that has hard and sharp edges. Bolt or anchor any furniture your child can climb on and have it come crashing down on them like bookshelves, curio cabinets, armoires, etc.
Kids love electrical cords and outlets! Be sure to put safety plugs in all your empty electrical outlets in every room of the house. For cords plugged into outlets, utilize safety covers so your child cannot pull the cord out of the outlet.
Floors and Stairs: Always be on the look out for things that could have been dropped on the floor and your baby could choke on. Be sure to install gates at the top and bottom of your stairs.
Childproofing your home is a constant process when kids are little. Think about it daily in all your actions. For instance, as we talk about stairs, be sure to not wear slippery socks, slippers, or shoes when going up and down the stairs. Enforce this rule with your kids too and especially with adults that are carrying little ones up and down the stairs.
Onto the bathroom... This is a challenge when you are childproofing your home since there is so much to childproof! The easiest way to childproof this room is to follow these tips, get down on your kid's level and see what else they can get into, and watch them to see what they get into and continue childproofing your home accordingly to keep them safe.
Toilets: Depending how curious your child is, you may want to Install toilet lid locks. A child can drown in a toilet because toddlers are top heavy and if they fall in, they don't have the ability or strength to push themselves up and out against both the toilet seat and lid.
I installed toilet lid locks on every toilet in my home, unfortunately my son broke all of these, so I just keep a child safety look on the doorknob and keep the doors closed.
Bathtub: Do not leave a child alone in a bathtub. Even if it seems relatively safe to leave them in the child tub or bath ring, don't do it. Non-slip strips are a good idea in the bathtub too. I don't like these because they're permanent and hard to clean around so I purchased removable non-slip little frogs with suction cups on the bottom and they work just as well.
Medicine cabinet: Keeping medicine in the bathroom is a bad idea. It's not good for your medicine and it's easily accessible for kids. So far all of my kids have the ability to climb up onto counter tops and access the medicine cabinet. Luckily we no longer have one, but when we did, I just kept hairbrushes and combs in there.
Keep medicines in the kitchen in a locked cabinet. Keep razors in a high cabinet locked up. Keep any and all cleansers, chemicals, lotions, makeup, colognes, in other words anything that is remotely poisonous, in a cabinet with a child lock, preferably very high up.
Electrical appliances: Store hair dryers and curling irons behind locked cabinets. Little ones love to plug things in, so it's a good idea to hide these away as soon as they are cooled down.
Water: Keep your water heater at no more than 120 degrees to prevent hot water burns.
That's a lot to digest, but as I said before may not be enough for your child. You'll have to be the judge on how much childproofing your home will need.
We used to joke that we were going to hire our son out to expecting parents as he would have been an excellent guide to childproofing your home. He needed the extreme childproofing.
As I said before, childproofing your home is a continual process and yes, it can be exhausting. Just remember that this is a temporary stage your child is going through. They become bored with all the cabinets and drawers that were once so much fun to get into. As your child grows and their interests change, childproofing your home will become a distant memory for you.