Making your home baby and child-proof
We all want to protect our children as much as possible. Whilst there’s no guaranteed way to completely baby- or child-proof your home, there are lots of things you can do to reduce potential accidents. This is our guide to what to do at different stages of your baby’s development. Remember, it’s best to be prepared, so try and put safety measures in place in advance.
Home safety before your baby becomes mobile
You may think there are few threats to a baby who can’t move about independently but there’s still plenty to consider, as babies love to reach out and grab things. The three main areas of focus for parents with new babies should be:
Safety in the nursery
- The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths (FSID), now known as The Lullaby Trust, recommends babies sleep in the same room as their parents for the first six months of life. This has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of cot death.
- Set up your baby’s cot as far from heat sources and windows as possible. If you can’t avoid placing your baby’s cot near a radiator, turn it right down or off so your baby can’t get burnt or overheat. If your baby’s cot has to be under a window, make sure you keep it locked or use a restrictor that stops it opening more than 10cm. Your baby may surprise you by climbing earlier than you expected.
- Make sure there aren’t dangling cords that your baby could choke on. Tie up light pulls and curtain or blind cords and, if you use a cot bumper, cut any tapes or ties as short as possible.
- Remove mobile and hanging toys from the cot as soon as your baby can stand up, or make sure these are well out of reach.
- Secure heavy furniture so that it can’t topple forwards and crush your baby. Also, don’t position the cot under shelves, as items might fall down into the cot.
- Don’t buy any second-hand or antique furniture that might be painted with lead-based paints as these are toxic and your baby could swallow peeling flakes. The most risky pieces are those from the early to mid-20th century.
- If you have a cat, buy a cat net to fit over your baby’s cot. Always keep animals out of your baby’s room.
Safety in the bathroom
- Wet babies are very slippery, so a baby bath seat is a great idea to keep him or her secure. It also lets you keep both hands free for washing your baby. Baby bath seats are usually made of towelling fabric over a metal frame and sit inside the bath with your baby safely reclining inside.
- Cover the bath taps by tying a flannel around them. This will protect your baby from bumps and scalds.
- Secure all bathroom cupboards with cupboard locks, even before your baby becomes mobile. Babies like to pull door handles and bathroom cupboards can contain all kinds of hazards.
- Never leave your baby unattended in a bath, even in a baby bath seat. Babies can drown quickly in only a few centimetres of water.
Safety in the kitchen
- Check your baby can’t reach out and grab electrical cables and cords when they are in their highchair or bouncing seat, in case you turn your back for a second.
- Don’t position your baby near drawers, especially those containing sharp utensils. Always keep cupboards containing medicines or chemicals locked.
- Keep the highchair or bouncing seat away from anything that could fall on to it, and well clear of any breakables, such as glasses.
- Place the highchair or bouncing seat away from heat sources such as kettles, radiators, cooker fronts and the hob.
Home safety for older babies
Once your baby is rolling, crawling or bottom-shuffling, it won’t be long before they’re standing, presenting you with a whole new world of safety hazards.
Safety in the toilet
- Now’s the time to fit a toilet seat lock - an inquisitive, mobile baby who can stand up can also fall into a toilet, which is both full of germs and chemicals and a very hard surface to collide with.
- Fit cupboard door locks in the bathroom to stop your toddler reaching cleaning products or toiletries.
- Don’t keep bleach or air freshener sprays down on the floor by the toilet.
Safety in the kitchen
- Keep toddlers out of the kitchen by fitting a safety gate (conforming to safety standard BS EN 1930:2000).
- If a safety gate into the kitchen is impractical, you’ll need to make extra safety checks. As well as taking on board all the advice for a younger baby (see above), check for anything that’s reachable from your baby’s height.
- Fit drawer locks to prevent exploring and stop them getting their fingers trapped. Anti-slam cushions will also stop your baby’s fingers from being slammed in closing doors.
- Fit a fridge and freezer lock.
- When cooking, turn saucepan handles to the back of the stove.
- Make sure all cords and cables are well out of reach.
- Don’t leave pet food dishes and bowls on the floor. Put them away as soon as your pet has finished eating and lock the cat flap whenever your baby is roaming.
- Always secure your baby in a highchair when you’re carrying hot food or dishes across the kitchen in case you trip.
Safety in the nursery
If you’ve bought a cot bed , have a detachable side rail ready for when your baby is ready for the bed (at about two or three years old).
Safety around the house
- According to the NHS, falls account for around 44% of all children’s injuries. Fit baby safety gates across your stairs. You’ll need a fixed gate at the top of the stairs but pressure-fitted gates are fine for downstairs.
- Fit baby safety gates across the doorways of any spaces you don’t want your baby or toddler exploring. This could include the utility room, downstairs loo or conservatory. For more information, read our safety gates guide.
- Make sure your baby can’t fit through spaces between your banisters. If they can, board them up temporarily.
- Fit electric plug covers to stop your child putting their little fingers inside them.
- Keep all alcohol locked away and put childproof locks on cupboards with cleaning products, medicines and toiletries, breakables (such as glassware) and sharp implements.
- Cut looped ties for window blinds or drapes to remove the risk of strangulation.
- Place a fixed fire guard with a mesh top around open fires and keep matches and firelighters out of reach.
- Secure rugs with a non-slip underlay.
- Install corner protectors to all furniture with sharp edges.
- Secure furniture that can topple over, such as bookcases, to the wall.
- Clear all surfaces your baby could pull itself up to, such as coffee tables and counter tops, and cover a glass-topped coffee table with safety film.
- Secure table lamp wires behind items of furniture or use a hide-a-cord device so they’re not visible or accessible.
- Keep hairdryers, hair straighteners and other electrical equipment well out of your baby’s reach, along with cosmetics and toiletries.
- Don’t use floor-based electric or fan heaters when your child is in the room.
- Get rid of toxic houseplants or place them up high out of reach. If the leaves shed, it’s best to remove these plants from the house altogether.
- If you use a tablecloth, fix it with clips to prevent it – and everything on it – from being pulled down.
- Remember to keep all handbags, including visitors’, out of reach as they can contain chemicals (such as perfume or hand wash) that could harm your baby. They may have small items in them like hairgrips and pen caps that could become lodged in a toddler’s nose or mouth.
- Lock all doors that lead outside, including balcony doors and French windows.
Baby safety tip
Crawl around on your hands and knees to get a baby’s-eye view of your home and spot any potential hazards. Secure or remove anything that looks tempting to pull down and explore
Making the garden safe for your baby
- Securely cover, or (better still) fill in ponds and other water features.
- Empty paddling pools and upturn buckets when not in use.
- Keep side gates locked.
- Check regularly for any pet or other animal faeces. Clear faeces away and keep your baby from regularly soiled areas – fence or screen them off if possible.
- Keep all tools locked away securely.
- Always supervise your baby when they’re exploring outside.
- If your baby is sleeping outdoors, cover their crib, carrycot or pram with a cat net, which will also protect against flying insects.
- Don’t let your baby dig around in soil with their hands. They could swallow something toxic.