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Childproofing Your Home

image for part 3 baby sitter safetyClose supervision is the best way to prevent accidents, but even the most vigilant parent cannot prevent every accident. Take these simple steps to make sure every part of your home is safe.

Get to Your Child’s Level

It may seem silly, but getting down to your child’s level can help you spot potential hazards. Spend some time looking around your home from your child’s eye level. Note anything dangerous within your reach and target these areas during your childproofing.

Common Household Hazards

When childproofing, keep in mind the most common household hazards. These include:

Childproof Every Area of Your Home

These childproofing rules apply to every area of the house:

Bedrooms

Make your child’s bedroom a safe place for sleeping and for playing. In addition to following the general childproofing guidelines above, consider these ways to keep your child safe in their bedroom:

  • At the changing table:
    • Never leave your child unattended.
    • Keep diaper-changing supplies within arms’ reach and keep one hand on your child at all times.
  • In the crib:
    • Check with your crib’s manufacturer to make sure it has not been recalled.
    • Use a firm mattress that fits snugly into the crib and fitted sheet.
    • Keep fluffy items like pillows, quilts, and stuffed animals out of the crib. They could cover your child’s face and create a suffocation hazard.
    • Do not leave any bulky items in the crib that your child could use as a step to climb out.
  • Keep night-lights away from drapes or bedding where they could start a fire. Use a night-light that does not get hot, even after being on all night.

Bathroom

Take these steps to make your bathroom safe:

  • Install no-slip strips on the bottom of the bathtub to prevent falls. Put a cushioned cover over the faucet.
  • Close the lid of the toilet when it is not in use. Consider a childproof lid lock.
  • Adjust your hot water heater so that water from the faucet is never hotter than 120°F (49°C). You can also place anti-scalding devices on faucets and showerheads.
  • Keep electrical appliances, such as hairdryers, unplugged and out of reach when not in use.
  • Have an electrician install ground-fault circuit interrupters. These decrease the risk of electrical injury if an electrical appliance is dropped into water.

Keep your young child out of the bathroom unless they are with an adult.

Kitchen

It is probably best to keep young children out of the kitchen, but that may not be possible for many families. Take these steps to keep your child safe in the kitchen:

  • Put babies and young children in a highchair or play yard while in the kitchen.
  • Install child locks on drawers and cabinets within your child’s reach.
  • Keep knives and sharp utensils out of reach.
  • Unplug electrical appliances when not in use so your child cannot accidentally turn them on.
  • Use a refrigerator latch to keep the door closed.
  • Turn pot handles toward the back of the stove so your child cannot reach them. If you have to walk with hot liquid, be sure your child is not underfoot to avoid tripping.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher within reach of your stove.

Garage and Basement

Even if your child does not spend much time in the garage or basement, it is still important to have these areas childproofed.

  • Store tools, paints, and other toxins in a locked, safe area that is out of reach.
  • If you have an unused freezer or refrigerator, remove the door so your child cannot become trapped inside.
  • Do not allow children to play where vehicles might be entering or exiting.
  • If you have an automatic garage door opener, keep the opener out of sight and reach. Know where your child is before opening or closing the door.

Yard

Make your yard safe for your children by childproofing your outdoor space:

  • If you do not have a fence, teach your child the yard boundaries. An adult should always supervise outdoor play.
  • Keep toys age appropriate. For example, don't let your child play on swings, slides, or seesaws until they are ready. Keep in mind that monkey bars are not recommend.
  • Teach your child to never pick and eat anything from a plant.
  • If you use pesticides or fertilizers, do not let your children play in the yard for 48 hours after applying them.
  • Do not use a power mower to mow the lawn when young children are around. Never let your child ride on the power mower with you.

Childproofing your home may take some careful planning, but it is a small price to pay to keep your child safe. Take some time to look around your home and evaluate any areas that may need childproofing. And remember—no amount of childproofing can replace the need for adult supervision.

RESOURCES:

American Red Cross Health and Safety Services
http://www.redcross.org

National SAFE Kids Campaign
http://www.safekids.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

About Kids Health—The Hospital for Sick Children
http://www.aboutkidshealth.ca

Canadian Red Cross
http://www.redcross.ca

REFERENCES:

At home. American Academy of Pediatrics Healthy Children website.Available at: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-home/Pages/default.aspx. Accessed July 5, 2017.

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Kids and babies. Consumer Product Safety Commission website. Available at: http://www.cpsc.gov/en/safety-education/safety-guides/kids-and-babies/childproofing-your-home--12-safety-devices-to-protect-your-children. Accessed July 5, 2017.

Gun safety: Keeping children safe. Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics website.Available at: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/all-around/Pages/Gun-Safety-Keeping-Children-Safe.aspx. Updated August 15, 2013. Accessed July 5, 2017.

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Landing lightly: Playgrounds don't have to hurt. National Safety Council website. Available at: http://www.nsc.org/learn/safety-knowledge/Pages/news-and-resources-playground-safety.aspx. Accessed July 5, 2017.

Make baby's room safe. Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics website. Available at: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-home/Pages/Make-Babys-Room-Safe.aspx. Updated November 21, 2015. Accessed July 5, 2017.

New crib standards: W hat parents need to know. Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics website. Available at: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-home/Pages/New-Crib-Standards-What-Parents-Need-to-Know.aspx. Updated November 21, 2015. Accessed July 5, 2017.

Tips for poison prevention and treatment. Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics website. Available at: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/news/Pages/Tips-for-Poison-Prevention-and-Treatment.aspx. Updated March 6, 2017. Accessed July 5, 2017.

11/29/2010 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillancehttp://www.dynamed.com: Phelan KJ, Khoury J, Xu Y, Liddy S, Hornung R, Lanphear BP. A randomized controlled trial of home injury hazard reduction: the HOME injury study. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2011;165(4):339-345.

Last reviewed July 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael Woods, MD, FAAP  Last Updated: 7/17/2015