To a baby's eyes, your home is one big playground. They see a lot of things to crawl under, climb on top of, pull down, touch, taste, and smell.
It can be fun to watch your baby discover new things as your baby learns to crawl and walk. But it can also be scary to think about what your baby might get into around the house. You can't watch your baby's every move. But you can take steps to help keep your baby safe and still let your baby explore.
To prevent injury
You can't watch your baby's every move. But there are steps you can take to help keep your little one safe.
- Be sure that all the products your baby uses meet U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) safety standards.
Check safety standards for things like cribs, strollers, playpens, high chairs, and changing tables. Go to the CPSC's website at www.cpsc.gov to learn more.
- Always use the safety straps on high chairs and changing tables.
- Secure things that could tip over if your baby tries to grab onto them or climb on top of them.
Examples are bookshelves, dressers, TVs, and other objects that might tip.
- Cover sharp corners around furniture, such as end tables, with corner guards or soft pads.
- Put sliding gates at both ends of stairs or in other areas where your baby could fall.
Don't use accordion-style gates, because your baby's head could get caught.
- Keep cords from blinds, drapes, and phones out of your child's reach.
Attach cords to mounts that hold them tight, and wrap them around wall brackets. Cut open any loops in cords for drapes or blinds.
- Put childproof locks or guards on all windows, doors, drawers, and kitchen and bathroom cabinets.
- Keep cribs away from windows.
- Put away all sharp objects, such as knives and scissors, and things that can break easily, such as glasses and dishes.
- Never leave your baby alone with a pet.
It only takes a moment for a pet to hurt your baby.
- Avoid keeping guns in the home or car.
If this isn't possible, unload all guns, keep them locked up, and store bullets in a place away from the guns.
To prevent drowning
Here are some steps you can take to help keep your baby safe around water.
- Never leave your baby alone in the bathtub or a bath seat or ring, even for a moment.
Always keep your baby within arm's reach. And never leave an older child in charge of watching your baby, even if the older child is in the room or in the tub with your baby.
- Drain the water from the tub right after the bath.
- Keep toilet lids down.
You can use toilet seat locks to keep the lid closed.
- Empty liquids from buckets and coolers completely when you're not using them.
And turn them over when they aren't in use.
- Make sure that pools are fenced off, gated, or locked.
Use pool covers that lock.
To prevent poisoning
Here are some ways to help keep your baby safe from toxic substances in the home.
- Be sure that all the products your baby comes in contact with, such as toys and jewelry, haven't been recalled because of high lead levels or other hazards.
If your child is exposed to lead, they might develop health problems and have trouble learning. Go to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) website at www.cpsc.gov to learn more.
- Have a qualified person test for lead in paint on walls and other surfaces, especially in homes built before 1978.
House paint is no longer made with lead. But older homes may still have it. Babies often like to eat paint chips or chew on painted surfaces. Even a small amount of lead can harm your baby. If you know that paint has lead in it, don't remove it yourself. When crushed or broken down, lead paint may contaminate dust and dirt in the surroundings. Have it removed by a professional with experience in lead hazard control.
- Put safety caps on all products that can poison your child, and store them in a high or locked cabinet.
This includes cleaners and other chemicals, medicines, makeup, perfumes, and other products that can harm your baby if they eat or smell them. Be aware that everyday items, such as mouthwash and some plants, can harm your baby.
- Keep the phone number for the Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) in your phone.
To prevent choking
Here are some ways you can help protect your baby from choking.
- Learn the signs of choking so you can react fast.
For example, a baby who is choking can't cry, breathe, or cough. Take a class on the Heimlich maneuver and CPR so you'll know what to do if your baby chokes.
- Keep small objects or parts of objects out of reach. This includes toy pieces, coins, buttons, marbles, rubber bands, and balloons.
- Never put your baby to bed with a bottle.
Your baby could choke if the fluid "goes down the wrong way" and gets into the lungs.
- Remove mobiles from cribs and playpens before your baby is able to reach up and grab them.
To prevent suffocation
Here are some ways you can help keep your baby safe from suffocation.
- Until your baby's first birthday, always place your baby to sleep on their back to help prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
- Dress your baby in sleepers instead of using blankets.
And remove any pillows, toys, and stuffed animals from the crib. They can cover your baby's face and make it hard for your baby to breathe.
- Be sure that the crib mattress fits tightly so there are no gaps that your baby can fall into or get trapped in.
Don't use crib bumpers or sleep positioners.
- Make sure that your baby's crib doesn't have raised corner posts or cutout portions that can trap your baby's head.
- Do not place your baby on a couch to sleep.
Your baby could be smothered and be at a higher risk for SIDS.
- Do not let your baby play with plastic bags or sacks.
Keep them out of reach.
- Be sure that all doors on refrigerators and freezers—even those that aren't in use—are securely closed.
If you are storing an old refrigerator or freezer, remove the door.
- Do not allow your pet to sleep with your baby.
Dogs, cats, and other animals can smother your baby.
To prevent burns
Try these tips to help keep your baby safe from burns.
- Turn your water heater's temperature down to 120°F (48.9°C).
This can help prevent burns from hot water.
- Keep hot liquids, such as coffee, away from your baby.
- Do not heat formula or breast milk in the microwave.
Hot spots in the liquid can burn your baby's mouth and throat.
- Keep pan handles on the stove turned inward so your baby can't reach up and grab them.
- Use safety plugs or covers on all electrical outlets.
- Unplug household items when they aren't in use.
Unplug items such as coffee pots, toasters, fans, and lamps.
- Screen off fireplaces and other heat sources.
Secure fireplace screens so your baby can't knock them over or get around them.
- Install smoke detectors in your home, and change the batteries at least once a year.
Current as of: September 20, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Susan C. Kim MD - Pediatrics
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
John Pope MD - Pediatrics