Baby Proofing Your Home: The Do's and Don'ts

Baby Proofing Your Home: The Do

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Updated on Jan 26, 2012

Bringing home a new baby means plenty of prep work for parents. From painting the nursery and purchasing diapers to packing a hospital bag, there's not much time for rest before it's time to welcome your newest addition. But don't get so busy that you forget one of the most important parts of prepping for baby: baby proofing your home. While you might think your house is perfect, the first and second years could spell out danger for your mini-me. Get on top of the baby proofing situation by knowing which products and safeguards you need—and which once you can skip.

During the First Year

From the first smile to first words, you'll constantly be amazed at how your baby grows each day during the first year. But the first 12 months also mean that your babe becomes mobile, so it's time to baby proof areas that he can access through rolling, scooting and crawling.

  • Get on the floor. One of the most effective ways to get started on baby proofing your home is to get down to your little one's level. Get on your belly and look around the room to see things that might attract your child's attention. Think sockets, wires, strings and stairs. It'll make it easier to know which things need to be baby proofed in the process.
  • Cover sockets. One of the most important baby proofing must-haves are socket covers. Sockets are just the right size for curious baby fingers and they could cause extreme electrocution. Look for plain socket covers that seal off the holes and don't attract attention—the character covers are cute, but they're practically an invitation for your baby to toddle over and tinker with them.
  • Tie up cords. Those blind cords and drapery tiebacks that make your window treatments look so stylish? Major strangulation hazard. If your crawling baby were to get tangled up in cords or strings of any home decor or electronics, it could be deadly. Tie them up and away from baby's reach.
  • Crib dangers. Not all of your baby's first-year dangers are on the floor. Some could be in the very place where he should be the safest—his crib. To be safe, always choose a crib without a drop sides, since many have been recalled due to baby entrapment issues. That cute bed set you purchased? Use only the fitted sheet and ditch the bumper and pillows, which could cause asphyxiation.

During the Second Year

Once your baby is up off the floor, it opens up a whole new world of exploration for him and a whole new world of worries for you. Make sure that everything eye-level is safe, because your curious toddler will be interested in climbing on and touching nearly everything.

  • Anchors away: You might love your cherry TV hutch, but it can be seriously dangerous if you have an adventurous toddler. Placing weight on the front of a large, heavy piece of furniture could cause toppling. Always anchor large pieces of furniture to the wall and discourage your tiny Tarzan from climbing.
  • Counter covers. Your toddler's the perfect height for exploring—straight into protruding edges. Counters, coffee tables and other furniture with right angles can mean bumped heads and tears, which is why plastic counter covers are in order. They add a soft layer of plastic around sharp corners to protect your baby's head. Another option is a corner guard; these foam triangles slide over sharp corners, but should be attached to a surface, or they could become yet another toy in your tiny adventurer's collection.
  • Cabinet locks. Avoid accidental poisoning by locking up cleaning products—they have bright, enticing labels that attract curious toddlers. Parent coach Tammy Gold warns, "People will spend thousands of dollars on gates, protectors and the like yet have harmful chemicals in their cleaners and products they use on their babies...there are tons of products which are terribly dangerous to children if ingested or even on their skin."
  • Stair gates. Your toddler's totally into discovering new areas of your home, but your unsteady toddler might not be adept enough to navigate the stairs. Invest in a pair of stair gates so you can decide when you want to work on stair climbing—and when they're off limits.
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