Smart Baby Proofing Ideas That Won’t Cost A Fortune
Now that your baby is starting to be mobile, it may have occurred to you to start earnestly looking at baby proofing your house.
Here is a super helpful and detailed baby proofing checklist to help keep your baby safe, and you sane! (Scroll down for your FREE printable checklist.)
Baby Proofing Your Home
Install Cord Stops for Blinds And Curtains
The cords on curtains and blinds pose a dangerous strangulation risk. Install safety tassels and cord stops to tuck away the cords.
You have options. You can install blind cord wraps at all your windows, and be sure to wrap up those cords so that they are well out of reach.
BUDGET FRIENDLY HACK: If you’d rather not drill into the window frame or walls, do whatever you need to do to ensure that those blind cords are ALWAYS tucked away and out of reach – like in the image on the right.
Also, do not put your baby’s crib near a window with blinds or curtains. Babies are curious and will start to play with anything that is within their reach.
Pad Sharp Edges On Furniture And Fireplace
Knocking against a sharp corner is a given for babies and toddlers, so it’s super important to baby-proof sharp edges and the corners of tables, counters, and fireplaces. However, if you are in the market for new furniture, consider furniture with curved corners instead, like round tables.
Baby proofing edge and corner guards are available at Amazon, Walmart or your local hardware store.
BUDGET FRIENDLY HACK: A cheap and effective option is to use plumbing insulation tape, like the image above. Here are great instructions on how to do it.
Put Up Baby Gates
Babies are not like Roombas which automatically stop at the stairs. Nope. If your baby gets to the stairs and you don’t have a baby proofing gate, your baby is likely to take a tumble.
With some baby proofing gates, you simply screw them onto your stairs (like the Munchkin shown above), without needing to drill holes in your stairs. With other gates, however, you may need to drill holes. If you’d rather not do that, consider this easy mom-hack. Drill the necessary holes into wood that is equally sized as your banisters. Then, tie it to your banister using heavy-duty zip ties. Here’s a helpful tutorial on how to do it.
MOM TO MOM: Baby proofing stairs is a big deal. This is not the time to opt for the cheap gates. Try to get the auto-closing safety gates. The last thing you want is to have the gate, but then someone forgets to close it, and your baby takes a tumble. Spend the extra to get gates that will always close by itself. (Scroll all the way down to see Note From The Author for a short, personal story about auto-closing safety gates.)
Another helpful tip is to get gates that you can walk through – instead of needing to climb over. Climbing over the gates is okay initially, but it gets tired really quickly, particularly if you are holding a baby.
Anchor TVs and Heavy Furniture
In the USA alone, a child is treated in the ER every 45 minutes due to a tv tipping over – this according to Make Safe Happen.
Why? Because babies and toddlers explore. For them, your furniture is like a mountain range waiting to be scaled. If they see something they want, they may try to climb onto furniture to get it. However, dressers, armoires, the changing table, TVs, and even appliances can tip over and hurt our little climbers.
Do ensure that all your furniture is anchored and secured to the wall using brackets, braces, or wall straps. Also:
- Place your tv as far back on the stand as possible so that it’s out of reach.
- In dressers, store heavier items in the bottom drawers.
- Store toys within reach on lower shelves.
Anchoring your furniture with an anti-tip kit is relatively easy to do. Yes, it involves drilling holes into your walls but getting it done far outweighs the worry of a potentially tragic accident.
Cover Exposed Electrical Outlets
All newly built homes (built after 2008) have outlets with tamper-resistant receptacles (TRR). They prevent electrocution if a baby were to tamper with the outlets.
TRR outlets have spring-loaded shutters that close off the openings. The only time the shutters open is if they are pushed simultaneously – like if you are plugging something in.
This is great safety measure because your baby will not be able to push both openings simultaneously, and therefore will not be able to poke anything into the outlets.
TRR outlets are installed as a standard, as required by the National Electrical Code. If you have a newly renovated house, you can expect them too.
If you have an older home, or you feel unsure of whether your home has these TRRs, be sure to cover any exposed outlets with furniture, or outlet covers.
BUDGET FRIENDLY HACK: Outlet covers are super cheap but you can also use painters tape or band-aids to cover electrical outlets. DO NOT USE DUCT TAPE to cover outlets. It is conductive and will still allow electrical currents to pass through.
Put Door Stoppers On All Doors
No matter your age, no one wants to get their fingers pinched indoors. This is an easy, and cheap problem to solve. Simply add baby safety door guards to all your doors.
BUDGET FRIENDLY HACK: You can cut pool noodles (which you can get from Walmart or the Dollar Store) and place one at the top of each door.
Secure Rugs With Non-Slip Rug Pads
If you have tiled or wooden floors, you will need rugs. Rugs offer safe and comfortable play, as well as cushioning for your baby’s hands and knees.
However, rugs can be a slipping hazard. Your baby is going to be running around soon and your rugs will cause slips and trips.
To babyproof that rug, use a non-slip rug pad. The non-slip rug pad sits underneath your rug or floor mat, hidden from sight. The rug pad gives your rug a better surface area to grip than a tiled or wooden floor.
Be sure to choose a rug pad that is the same size as your rug. If it’s too small, it would be useless.
Remove Everything That Can Break
If you are a mom who loves to decorate, you will likely cringe at this suggestion. Alas, breakables will have to be packed away for a long time or placed really high where your baby cannot have access to it.
Place Poisonous Plants Out Of Reach
Houseplants are important for two reasons: (1) your baby can create a huge mess if he/she has access to it and (2) some houseplants are poisonous.
As adults, we know not to eat the leaves of plants but babies don’t know that. There are several common houseplants that are poisonous if consumed, so do check out this resource to be sure.
If you have houseplants that are poisonous, give them to someone who doesn’t have babies or put them out of reach.
For houseplants that are not poisonous, put them out of reach or try your best to cover the soil. If not, you’ll be cleaning daily.
Radiators and heaters can cause serious burns. Avoid accidents by covering them.
Put Purses And Bags Out of Reach
Our purses may seem innocent but they are potentially dangerous for little ones.
Even if you don’t store medicines in your purse, there may be other things that are dangerous. According to The University Of Utah:
- Perfume may irritate eyes. It also contains alcohol and if consumed in large amounts, your child may feel drunk;
- Hand cream may cause stomach upsets and diarrhea if large amounts are swallowed;
- Nose spray may cause extreme drowsiness and agitation;
- Over the counter medicines may cause agitation, jitters, and drowsiness;
- Prescription medicines may cause a wide variety of major and minor problems.
Place Battery Operated Items Out of Reach
Batteries and the fluid they carry are a serious danger. If swallowed, it can result in choking, chemical burns and internal bleeding.
Because of this very real danger, most new toys now come with a screw-on cover. This is great for toys, but remote controls don’t. They are the biggest culprits. Be sure to tape them shut so that your baby cannot open it. Better yet, cover them up and always put it out of reach.
Install Doorknob Covers To Prevent Escapes
Our little angels are escape artists. If given the opportunity to escape, they will take it. Keep them safe with doorknob covers.
BUDGET FRIENDLY HACK: Doorknob covers are cheap but you can also crochet covers to cover your doorknobs. Here is the pattern. Another option is to cut a small hole into a small container and screw it onto the doorknob.
Babies put everything in their mouths and if little things are found under chairs or tables, they are choking hazards. Be sure to vacuum under chairs and tables where small items could have fallen. Also, vacuum behind any furniture.
Cover Power Strips
Power strips are usually on the ground. That being the case, your baby will have access to it.
At best, your baby will be able to unplug your tv, computer, etc, or at worse, it’s an electrical shock hazard.
BUDGET FRIENDLY HACK: If at all possible, try to hide those power strips and outlets behind furniture. If that’s not an option, use large, heavy-duty storage bins with handles that can lock, to store your power strips. You would have to cut a hole in the side for the cords, but this is an effective, albeit temporary solution until your baby figures out how to undo the handles.
Cover Exposed Wires And Cables
Babies and toddlers can trip over exposed wires and cables. It’s best to cover them as best as you can. A great option is to use gaffers tape. Duct tape or masking tape could also work but there’s no guarantee that it won’t leave sticky residue on your floors or carpets.
Install Window Guards
Screens are not enough to keep a child from falling out of a window.
If your toddler or child is able to open a window, there is always the possibility of an accident.
Do not assume that windows are out of reach. Children are curious and resourceful, and they will climb on furniture or toys to reach windows. This is why window guards are a great idea.
Let Baby Wear Non-Slip Socks To Prevent Slips
If you have tiles or wood floors, your baby will slip on the floors, so it’s a great idea to buy non-slip socks.
BUDGET FRIENDLY HACK: Turn any socks into non-skid socks by drawing on the soles with puffy fabric paint.
Do Not Leave Your Baby Alone With A Dog
As grownups, we know not to pull a dog’s tail or poke their eyes. Babies don’t know that and they make provoke a “good dog.”
It is always better to be safe than sorry.
Baby Proofing Your Kitchen
Latch Kitchen Cabinets
Kitchen cabinets hold sharp objects, breakable objects or hazardous cleaners. You will want to keep your baby out of them.
Install A Stove Guard
Prevent a horrible accident that can scar your child for life. Install a simple stove guard.
Another option is to ALWAYS and exclusively cook on the back burners. That way, even if you turn away for a moment, the threat level is lower.
Lock The Oven Door
Some newer ovens offer the ability to lock them. If yours does, use it. If yours does not have a lock, get an oven lock. Babies have been known to climb into ovens.
Also, if you have a kitchen towel hanging from the oven door, remove it. Your baby could use the towel to pull down the oven door.
Get Covers For Stove Knobs
Whether you have an electric or gas stove, you do not want your stove knobs to be turned on by your baby or toddler. Prevent the dangers that can come from this with simple stove knob covers.
Keep Harsh Chemicals Out Of Reach
Keep all your harsh kitchen and cleaning materials out of reach. Keep them on the highest shelf, or lock them away with safety locks.
An even better alternative is to lock away environmentally safe cleaning products. They are equally effective (for the most part) and they are not toxic.
Baby Proof Your Dishwasher
Your dishwasher provides instant access to detergent, sharp knives, forks and breakables. Therefore, keep your dishwasher closed and latched at all times.
For peace of mind, install a safety latch.
You may like a pretty tablecloth, especially during the holidays. However, it’s not a good idea when you have a baby or toddler because he/she is bound to pull on it and bring everything down.
Kitchen Habits To Keep Your Child Safe
The following do not necessarily make it onto baby proofing lists, but for the safety of your child, it needs to be mentioned.
Right from the time that your baby is born, it’s important to get into a few new habits that will keep your baby and children safe. With regards to your kitchen, please:
- Don’t leave anything near the edge of your tables and counters. In particular, hot beverages and sharp objects should always be placed in the center and well out of reach. Even if you believe the table or counter-tops are too high, don’t risk it. Toddlers are curious and they can find a way to get to something that interests them.
- Unplug electrical appliances like your toaster as soon as you are done using it. Put your appliances away and ensure that no cables are lying around. Cables are strangulation hazards. Also, if your baby is able to get his/her hands on a stray cable, they can pull on it and subsequently pull the appliance down onto themselves.
- Keep your dishwasher closed and latched, and place sharp objects like knives and shears facing down;
- Do not put detergent into your dishwasher until you are ready to run it. Detergent is poisonous if consumed.
- Never let your toddler see how you open the safety locks. He/she will figure out how to open it themselves.
- If you plan to hook a portable highchair onto your kitchen table, check that the table is sturdy and strong enough to hold it.
Baby Proofing Your Bathroom
Invest In A Toilet Lock
Toddlers seem to be very interested in toilets.
There are the obvious dangers that toilets present to a baby or toddler, but there’s also the risk of your toddler throwing toys, stuffed animals, etc down your toilet. This can result in a very costly plumbing bill.
Avoid the hassle and install a toilet lock on each toilet in your house.
Get A Spout Cover For The Bath Faucet
With hot water coming out of the bath spout, it may be warm to the touch. You will want to cover the spout with a spout cover to prevent your baby from burning if he/she were to touch it.
BUDGET FRIENDLY HACK: Spout covers are relatively cheap but if you’re in a pinch, cut off a piece of a pool noodle and cover your spout. It is equally as effective and way cheaper. However, it may not fit all bath spouts.
Place Locks On Your Bathroom Cabinets
Your bathroom is the place you are most likely to keep medicines. It is also the place you keep lotions, perfumes, mouth wash, etc. Even something that is seemingly innocent, like hand cream, may cause stomach upsets and diarrhea if swallowed in large amounts. Over-the-counter medicines can cause agitation, drowsiness, and jitters. In short – it is not a place for a baby or toddler to be messing around.
Avoid the dangers and put safety locks on all your bathroom cabinets.
BUDGET FRIENDLY HACK: Use Dollar Store dog collars to lock your bathroom cabinets.
Use A Non-Slip Bath Mat To Prevent Falls
Avoid the dangers of slipping and get a non-slip tub mat.
Also, be sure to put a bath mat or towel right outside the bath to prevent slipping on the floor.
Unplug And Store Electric Appliances
Hairdryers, curling irons and any other electric appliances you use in the bathroom must always be unplugged and put away once they have cooled down. There are all kinds of hairdryer holders that make this chore easy and practical.
Adjust Your Water Heater To Under 120 Degrees Fahrenheit
Your baby sees you turn on the faucet and water comes out. He/she will try to do that too. If your water is not set to below 120 degrees Fahrenheit, the water could be scalding hot. Prevent that and adjust the temperature to a safe one.
Baby Proofing Toys
Do Not Offer Toys That Cannot Fit Through A Toilet Roll
This is also known as the “toilet paper roll rule”. It means that if something is small enough to fit in a toilet paper roll, it is too small for your baby.
To avoid choking hazards, baby toys should be a minimum diameter of 1¼” (3 cm) and 2¼” (6 cm) long. To find out if a toy is too small, use a choke tube or small-parts tester. The tubes are approximately the same diameter as the windpipe of a child and if the toy fits into the tube, it could be a choking hazard. If you don’t have one of these testers, use a toilet paper roll. If any of your baby toys can fit through a toilet paper roll, it should not be offered to your baby.
Stick to Age Recommendations
Keep a close eye on the toy’s age recommendations and pick a toy that is appropriate for the age, skill level and interest of your child.
For educational purposes, you may want your child to play with more advanced toys. Sure, they may mentally be up for it but they are still babies who put things in their mouths. If you are going to offer toys that are not suitable for your child’s age, be sure to supervise while he/she is playing with it.
Toys With Batteries Must Have A Screwed On Cover
Baby toys that use batteries should have a cover that screws shut so that kids cannot easily pry them open. Batteries and the fluid they carry are a serious danger and could result in choking, chemical burns and internal bleeding.
Inspect Old Or Hand-made Toys
Inspect homemade and second-hand baby toys carefully, since they might not have been previously tested for safety. Do not give painted toys to infants that were made prior to 1978 since the paint might contain lead.
Toy Safety Guidelines
Here are some additional toy guidelines to follow. For an experienced parent, they may be obvious. To new parents, they may not be:
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. They have tested their product and they know of potential dangers if the toy is not used as intended.
- Get rid of plastic wrappings immediately after opening the toy. They are a potential suffocation risk.
- Any toys given to a child younger than 8-years old need to be inspected for sharp edges and points. Even stuffed animals that have wires could be a potential stabbing, cutting or choking hazard.
- Never offer toys that have potential choking hazards like small parts including removable noses, eyes, etc. Never give young kids small balls, coins, marbles or games that have balls under 4.4 cm (1.75 in) in diameter since they could become a choking hazard if they get lodged in the windpipe.
- Children younger than 8-years old should not be given toys made of glass or metal.
- Teach older siblings to keep toys with sharp points, small parts or with electrical components away from their younger siblings. Young children love to explore their surroundings and may go after toys that are not suitable for their age.
- Never hang toys with strings, ribbons or cords close to playpens or cribs. These could entangle a young child and result in injury or death.
- Keep in mind that toys given away or sold at carnivals or the ones in vending machines do not have to adhere to safety standards. You will want to stay away from them because they usually have small parts. If you decide to let your child have one of these toys, always thoroughly inspect them for sharp edges and loose parts.
- Instill the habit in children at an early age to put away their toys when they are done playing with them. This will prevent tripping over them by accident.
- When inspecting the safety of a toy, ensure it is not breakable and is sufficiently strong to endure chewing.
- Toys should not have pointy ends or little components such as eyes, wheels, or buttons which could be tugged loose.
- Baby toys should not have tiny ends, which could stretch into your baby’s mouth.
- Avoid toys with strings 7 inches ( 18 cm ) or longer.
- Avoid toy components that might turn into pinch points for little fingers.
Note From The Author
Our third son took a tumble down the stairs when he was almost 2 years old. I still remember that day clearly. I still hear the sounds of the tumble and the screaming. It was awful. It was sickening. My husband and I knew exactly what was happening but there was nothing we could do to stop it because we were too far away.
He fell facedown, and just lay there for what seemed like an eternity, without making a sound. Someone told me later that the air might have been knocked out of him, and this may have been the reason why he didn’t immediately make a sound when he hit the ground.
There was a safety gate. We’ve always had safety gates, but an older sibling forgot to close the gate. This is why I personally feel that everyone must have those auto close safety gates.
I am an extremely frugal person – I feel it’s unnecessary to pay more money for something that could do the same job for cheaper. However, I don’t feel that way about these auto-closing safety gates. They are a little bit more expensive than other gates, but for peace of mind, they are worth it.
I also feel I may get a little push-back from parents who say their dogs would never hurt their babies. I hear you, but there are thousands of news reports from parents who also thought that, and they were wrong. I mean no offense. I say it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Finally, I know it’s a drag to install anti-tip locks and “screw in” safety locks everywhere. I hear you! However, I propose just getting it over with. It beats worrying about the “what ifs”. If you are asking your husband to do it, I propose you hand him a beer and put on his favorite music (or audiobook), and let him at it.