When it’s time to bring your newborn home, you want to be sure the house is safely set up to receive him—and the best time for baby proofing your home is long before he actually arrives. Ideally, get started at least three months before your due date, because some of the recommended baby proofing preparations may take time.
Once baby starts to crawl (around 6 to 10 months), you’ll need to do a second baby proofing sweep to make sure the house is safe for a baby on the move. For a roundup of those big to-dos, check out The Bump baby proofing checklist for when baby is on the move.
Baby Proofing the House
It’ll be several months before baby starts scooting around on her own, but there are still baby proofing tasks you’ll need to tackle to keep your newborn safe. And you’re not just checking for things that could pose a direct risk to your little one—anything that could harm you while you have baby in your arms (think slippery floors and wobbly furniture) will need to be addressed too. Use this baby proofing checklist to secure your home and prepare for emergencies.
Baby proofing around the house
• Install a UL Listed carbon monoxide detector on every story of your house if you use gas or oil appliances or have an attached garage. Check the batteries of any detectors you already have.
• Install smoke detectors on every level of your home and in the hallways outside of bedrooms.
• Purchase a fire extinguisher and learn how to use it.
• Stock your medicine cabinet or first-aid kit.
• Have at least one phone in your home that’s connected by land line. Cordless phones don’t work when the power is out, and cellphone batteries can run out. Place a list of emergency numbers near the land line.
• Make sure your home or apartment number is easy to see so fire or rescue can locate you quickly in an emergency.
• Install a temperature guard on your water heater at a maximum of 120 degrees Fahrenheit (48 degrees Celsius).
• Get any flaking or peeling paint sealed or removed by a professional, especially if your home was built before 1978. Dust from lead paint, which was banned from residential use in that year, can be harmful if ingested
• Put non-slip pads under all rugs.
• Cover all sharp furniture edges and corners with bumpers or safety padding.
• Block all open outlets with furniture or use safety plugs.
• Latch closed any drawers, doors or cupboards within baby’s reach.
• Get rid of any blinds or curtains with looped cords, or install safety tassels and cord stops to tuck away the cords.
• Always unplug and store electric appliances that aren’t use (iron, curling iron, etc.)
• Check the house and yard for poisonous plants and move them out of baby’s reach
• Always store your and visitors’ purses out of baby’s reach.
• If you plan to hook a highchair to your kitchen table, check that the table is sturdy and strong.
Baby proofing the nursery
• Place baby wipes and supplies where you can reach them from the changing table but baby can’t.
• Put a thick rug or carpet below the changing table.
• Position the crib away from windows, heaters, lamps, wall decoration and cords.
• Finish all painting and wallpapering at least eight weeks before baby is expected to avoid exposing baby to any potentially harmful fumes.
• Check that none of the crib slats are more than two and 3/8 inches apart, and that all the bolts and screws are tight. Make sure there are no gaps between the mattress and crib
• Keep bumpers, comforters, pillows, blankets and toys out of the crib.
• Check all nursery furniture according to our safety suggestions
Baby Proofing the Car
Baby proofing doesn’t just stop at your front door—ensuring that your car is clear of any hazards is also part of the deal. In fact, your vehicle is the first place baby will encounter on his way home from the hospital, so it’s important to brush up on car seat safety basics. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you’re baby proofing the car.
• Install an approved rear-facing car seat in the back seat (in the middle, if possible) and get it inspected (for free!) by a local certified child passenger safety technician.
• If the sun is strong in your area, apply stick-on sun shades to the back windows to block the rays (but avoid ones that hang or connect with suction cups, which can fall or pop off).
• Clear the car of any small objects that could be choking hazards, such as coins and pens.
Illustrations by Brown Bird Design
Updated September 2017