Once your baby becomes a little more mobile, as early as 5 or 6 months (sitting up, crawling, cruising, etc.), it's time to start babyproofing your home. It doesn't hurt to get a head start on your childproofing checklist while you're still pregnant, but we definitely put it off until after the 4th trimester. This post contains affiliate links which means that if you make a purchase, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Don't forget - this is not medical advice! Please check with your pediatrician for specific recommendations, and to come up with a plan that works best for you and your family.
What to Childproof:
Throughout the House
Cut or tie cords from hanging blinds. Cordless window coverings (like these) are the safest option for small children. However, you can cut the cords or use cord cleats, cord tensioners, breakaway tassels, or inner cord stops to make corded blinds safer. (Read more from the CPSC)
WTFTM Tip: You can request a free cord retrofit kit from the Window Covering Safety Council.
Install gates at the top and bottom of each staircase.
Install covers on electrical outlets.
Use a fireplace- or hearth-specific gate, and store all fireplace tools behind the gate.
Cover radiators and heating vents to prevent burns.
Install window gates and guards to prevent falling through windows, no matter which floor the windows are on. They will be strong enough to prevent a fall, but easy enough to open in the case of a fire. Alternatively, window stoppers can help you limit how far a window can open.
Remove the rubber tip on door jambs, which is a choking hazard, or replace them with soft jamb door stops.
Install smoke detectors on every floor of your home and near the bedrooms. If you already have them, check the batteries and set reminders on your phone calendar to replace them every six months. Replace the entire smoke alarm once every 10 years (check your product for the recommended lifespan).
Install carbon monoxide detectors on every floor of your home and near the bedrooms and in the garage. If you already have them and they contain replaceable batteries, set reminders on your phone calendar to replace the batteries every six months. Replace the entire carbon monoxide detector once every five years (check your product for the recommended lifespan).
Use door knob covers to prevent access to unsafe rooms including all those leading outside and bathrooms. If your doors have levers rather than knobs, you can use lever locks.
Put foam cushions on the corners of sharp furniture like coffee tables.
Add non-skid pads under rugs.
Add finger-pinch guards for hinges on doors.
Keep batteries out of reach. Coin lithium batteries (button batteries) and the devices that contain them can be fatal if swallowed. Regular batteries can leak acid, causing burns.
Keep toxic substances stored outside like pool chemicals and fertilizer in locked cabinets or locked storage sheds.
Check that your houseplants are non-toxic. Some are very poisonous (especially Oleanders), and varying levels of poisoning can happen from eating the leaves, soil, berries, roots, or blossoms, touching the leaves or sap, and drinking water from the plant tray (Read the list here).
Check the floor for food and non-food choking hazards on a daily basis.
WTFTM Tip: Familiarize yourself with a list of food choking hazards and non-food choking hazards (marbles, balls, uninflated/broken balloons, rubber bands, small magnets, lego pieces, small toys, broken crayons, jewelry, and anything that fits into a toilet paper roll).
Kitchen, Bedroom and Bathroom
Use a lock or latch for appliances (dishwasher, oven, refrigerator, washing machine) and trash cans.
Install a stove guard and/or stove knob covers.
Use the back burners on your stove when cooking so your baby can't grab the handle and pull pots and pans down on themselves. If you're using all four, turn handles away from the front of the stove.
Keep the area above the crib and changing table clear (no frames, shelves, etc.)
Don't put remotes, toys, or other irresistible items on top of a dresser or other tall furniture.
Use cabinet locks, and keep all toxic substances (including liquor) in locked cabinets.
Keep all toxic substances in their original containers.
Set your hot water heater temperature to 120 degrees F (~49 degrees C). If you do not control your hot water heater, ask your landlord what it's set at, and always use a bathtub thermometer (our favorite).
Use a toilet lid lock.
Keep shampoos and soaps off of sink and tub ledges, as they pose a poison risk.
Swimming Pool or Hot Tub
If you have a pool or hot tub, it is important to childproof the entire area. Most importantly, install a four-sided fence that's at least four to five feet tall with a self-closing, self-latching gate. Next, install alarms on doors to the outside. Finally, consider products to further keep kids safe in and around pools including: pool nets, wearable devices, surface wave sensors and subsurface disturbance sensors.
Pool Safety Reminders: Supervise babies and toddlers near water AT ALL TIMES, learn CPR, take pool toys out after swimming, don't rely on floaties to prevent drowning, enroll your baby in swim lessons, stay away from drains, and empty baby pools after each use.
How to Handle Childproofing at Other People's Homes
Check the floor for choking hazards.
Be aware of strangulation (blind cords) and tipping hazards so you can keep baby away from them.
Explain to other children who are present that baby can choke on anything that fits through a toilet paper roll. Children are often innocently eager to share their legos, Barbie's shoes, etc. with babies.
Bring a portable baby gate to create a temporary barrier (e.g. portable mesh gate).
General Safety Reminders
Screens are not strong enough to prevent a fall through a window.
Have your fireplace and chimney cleaned and inspected regularly.
Don't leave baby unattended near any amount of water (tub, sink, bucket, baby pool, etc.).
Don't leave baby unattended near heat or flames (stove/oven, fireplace, barbecue grill).
Save important phone numbers in your phone (e.g. doctors, fire department, poison control, etc).
Poison Control: 1-800-222-1222 / www.poison.org
Take an infant CPR course.
If your house or apartment building was built before 1978, check if you have lead based paint (Read more from Mayo Clinic)
If you have a firearm in the home, follow important precautions such keeping it unloaded and locked/out of reach of children and storing ammunition separately from the gun(s). (Read more from Project ChildSafe)
Have a plan for natural disasters (a planned escape route in case of a fire, a "go-bag" for earthquakes, stored water/non-perishable food for hurricanes, etc.)