As parents, our top concern is keeping our babies safe. From the time we conceive, we begin worrying about how to protect our babies from all things. There are so many ways in which they can get hurt, but there are things we can do to lessen those chances and to try and keep their hurts to “little ouches” versus medical emergencies. 

So, if you’re interested in learning about ways to make your living spaces safer for your babies, keep reading, because what I’m going to share is for you. 

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As a mom of three, I have tended to my fair share of ouches, some small and some absolutely big and terrifying. Additionally, as a birth worker, my clients have also shared their unfortunate stories of their babies getting hurt. So, this topic is one that I like to discuss in hopes of helping families keep their little ones safe and spare themselves some tears. 

Ensuring that your home is safe for your baby looks different based on your baby’s age and development. I like to think of baby proofing based on things your baby can do. So, I’m going to share some general safety recommendations, as well as some recommendations based on ways in which your baby can get injured categorized by their developmental abilities

These baby-proofing recommendations are intended to make life with a baby easier and supervision less stressful. It is not intended to convey that it’s okay to leave your baby unattended. Little babies move fast, older children can be very curious, and accidents can happen quickly and easily. So, please supervise your children. 

For young babies, I recommend baby-wearing or putting babies in a crib, playpen, or infant seat if you can’t properly supervise. For older children, I recommend regular communication around safety and things they should not touch. For all ages, I recommend the below safety measures. I also like to use baby monitors because while you may not be able to be in the same room with your children at all times, cameras and monitors allow you to listen in and see what’s going on when you’re out of their presence. This is especially helpful if you have multiple children. 

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General safety precautions.

Even before your baby becomes mobile, there are some general safety precautions you can take to help keep them safe. You’ll want to install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. If you already have them installed, be sure to change the batteries around the time of your expected delivery date just so you can have one less thing to worry about once your baby is born. Additionally, you should set your hot water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. While they have rubber duck thermometers that will tell you if the bath water is too hot, you’ll be running baths well before your baby can play with a rubber duck, and you want to be sure the water isn’t too hot. This is especially important for those families having home births in a birthing pool. Often you may be asked to raise the temperature on your hot water heater to ensure that there’s enough water to fill the large pool. Just remember to lower the temperature after the birth to make finding the right temperature for the baby easier and to avoid any of your older children scalding themselves. You should also check your window seals and door frames for lead paint. While you’ll have a little time before you have to worry about your child peeling off old paint. Lead is extremely hazardous and requires expert removal while you’re out of the home. So, if needed, this may be something you want to tackle before your baby is born. In addition to general safety precautions, you’ll want to ensure safety based on your baby’s development.   

Newborn stage.

For the newborn stage, you should consider crib safety. Ensure your baby’s crib meets the safety standards from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, including a tight-fitting mattress and slats placed no more than 2 ⅜ inches apart. Additionally, you’ll want to consider things your baby can pull on while in the crib, including curtains, blinds, cords, and artwork. Keep curtains short and out of reach and if you’re not able to install cordless blinds, look into ways to make your corded blinds safer. You also want to make sure all other cords like baby monitor cords and electrical cords are out of reach as they are strangulation hazards. As for the artwork, make sure it’s hung securely and completely out of reach. If you have anything hanging above your baby’s crib, keep it out of reach and avoid glass and hanging wire, instead opt for locking hardware to securely hang your art.  

Scooting & crawling stage.

Once your baby begins crawling, you’ll want to install baby gates for stairs and to section off any area that’s unsafe for your baby. Additionally, you’ll want to be mindful of things they can pick up and put in their mouths. Keep small items out of their reach. Anything that can fit inside a toilet paper roll is a choking hazard. Be mindful of coins and other small items found around the home like pen caps, hair beads, hair barrettes, small balls, small game pieces, and small toys. Be mindful during birthdays and holidays. In addition to ensuring toy safety and using only age-appropriate toys for your children, be sure to carefully discard all packaging, including tags and tag holders on clothes and all of the little pieces of plastic that you cut off of toys. If you’re opening lots of gifts quickly, I actually recommend vacuuming before putting your baby down to crawl. 

Standing stage.

When your baby begins to stand, be mindful of things they can pull on top of themselves. Babies will use anything they see to grab and pull up on. So, it’s important to anchor your furniture to the wall to prevent your babies from pulling the furniture on top of their little bodies. Also, mount your TVs to avoid them being pulled or knocked off of your TV stand. I’ve definitely heard a few stories of toddlers pulling TVs on top of themselves. Fortunately, the kids were okay, but those TVs were not. 

Walking stage.

When your baby begins walking, their curiosity will get the best of them and they will be in any and everything they can get their hands on. So try your best to keep dangerous things out of your baby’s reach, swap your electrical outlet covers and purchase locks for your drawers, cabinets, dishwasher, refrigerator, and toilets. You may also consider storing cleaning products, medications, and other potential poisons in higher cabinets. 

Running stage.

Older children love to run, play, and jump around, so be mindful of things they can bump into or fall on. I advise against any glass furniture to avoid worrying about your children falling into it, bumping their heads, and possibly even accidentally breaking it. Also, be mindful of sharp edges and furniture corners. My oldest baby actually got hurt badly after spinning around, falling, and hitting her head on the edge of the table. Even though the table was punched against the wall and out of the way, she ended up in the emergency room needing 5 stitches. It was absolutely terrifying for all of us. So, I strongly recommend installing edge cushions to baby-proof all corners and sharp edges.  

In addition to childproofing your home, also take a close look at your outdoor spaces and your car as those places have just as many dangers as your home, if not more. You want to take the same considerations as you do for your home and be mindful of things they can pull on, climb on, pull on top of themselves, fall into or on, and put in their mouths. Because cars are moving vehicles, you also want to be mindful of car seat safety and loose items that can fly around if you hit a bump or get into a car accident. 

While I’m a strong advocate for baby-proofing, once your baby starts talking, it’s a great idea to teach them what’s safe to play with and what’s unsafe. This is important because it’s impossible to remove all dangers, especially once they reach the age where they can get past the gates, latches, and “locks.” Additionally, they need to understand what’s off limits and what’s dangerous in any home they may be visiting or car they may be riding in. 

Because accidents happen, I’m sharing a few resources so you have them handy if needed:

As you go through these suggestions and check out the linked baby-proofing items, be mindful that baby-proofing is not a one-time thing. You should regularly inspect your spaces and make adjustments and order replacements as needed. Additionally, be sure to reassess safety as you grow your family, because what’s safe for a 3-year-old isn’t safe for a 6-month crawler. 

I hope you found this information helpful. Subscribe to our newsletter for more tips and tools and join our free Facebook group (M.A.M.A.| Safe, Peaceful, & Joyous Childbirth Experiences) to be connected to a network of other birthing mamas supporting each other along their childbirth journeys, from pregnancy through early parenting.