Your Child's Room
You can go a long way in protecting your children by conducting a room-by-room safety check. Follow our guide to learn the simple changes you can make to turn your home into a baby-safe zone.
- Make sure the crib has a firm mattress and doesn't include decorative cutouts or corner posts.
- Keep pillows, fluffy comforters, and even soft stuffed animals out of the crib in the first four to six months of life -- these can suffocate baby.
- Make sure your baby's changing table has three raised sides and a restraining strap.
- Once a child is old enough to pull to stand, remove bumper pads and any toys from the crib -- they could serve as "stepping stones" to climb out.
- Make sure the crib or playpen slats are narrow, and don't leave enough space for your child's head to get wedged between them.
- Once your baby's up on all fours and reaching for things, take down decorations or toys that are strung across the crib from rail to rail.
- Don't buy a toy box with a heavy hinged lid -- it might fall on your child when he reaches in to get a toy.
- Furnish the room with a soft carpet to prevent injury from those unavoidable falls.
- To prevent scalding burns in the bathtub, make sure your water heater is set to 120 degrees.
- Consider child-resistant "toilet locks" that secure the lid when the toilet's not in use.
- Unplug all electric appliances, such as hair dryers, when you're not using them, and store them out of reach.
- Place nonskid mats or rugs in the bathtub and on the floor to prevent falls.
- Make sure everything in your medicine cabinet has a child-resistant cap. Store all medications in their original containers.
- If the medicine cabinet is not out of your child's reach, install a child safety latch, or keep medicines in a new, locked tackle box.
- Remember to supervise young children in the bathroom at all times.
- Put latches on any accessible drawers that contain matches or sharp or pointy utensils such as knives.
- Keep small appliances far back on the counter, and make sure the cords aren't dangling over the edge.
- Put forks and knives in the dishwasher with the handles up and points down.
- Keep appliances unplugged when they're not in use.
- Place chairs and step stools away from counters and the stove, so your child can't climb up and then take a tumble.
- Make sure your child's high chair is sturdy and has a seat belt with a crotch strap.
- Use knob covers or stove shields to keep little hands from accidentally turning on the oven.
- Use the stove's back burners instead of the front whenever possible, and make sure to turn all pot handles inward.
- Remove any refrigerator magnets that are small enough to fit in a child's mouth and cause choking.
- Avoid using tablecloths, since young children will typically tug on them and can pull hot food down on themselves.
- Place pads on edges and corners of tables to prevent injuries.
- Use extension cords sparingly. Run cords behind furniture, out of reach.
- Place houseplants out of your child's reach -- some may be poisonous.
- Secure tall freestanding furniture, such as high bookcases and cabinets, to the wall. Use brackets available at your local baby or hardware store.
- Place physical barriers around your fireplace.
- Secure televisions and other heavy items (such as lamps) to the table to prevent tipping.
Around the House
- Keep cleaning supplies in their original containers -- with safety caps -- behind latched cabinet doors.
- Make sure stairs are carpeted and protected with non-accordion gates.
- Invest in outlet covers for empty outlets, and outlet guards for outlets in use.
- Keep all rooms in your house free from small parts, plastic bags, small toys, and balloons.
- Shorten drapery and blind cords, and cut any that are looped.
- Consider opening windows from the top rather than from the bottom, or installing hardware that limits how far the bottom window can be opened.
- Install window guards to prevent kids from falling out.
- Put radiator guards on all heaters -- radiators can cause blistering burns.
- Install smoke detectors all around the house, and keep a fire extinguisher handy.
- Teach your children how to call 911 in an emergency.
Additional reporting by Mark Widome, MD
All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.