How to make your home baby-friendly
After you bring your baby home for the first time, things are going to move quick—there’s going to be feedings, naps and sleep schedules to start wrangling. So before your little guy or gal makes their grand arrival, you’ll want to make sure your home is ready and retrofitted to keep them safe.
Here’s a list of general guidelines and principles to keep in mind as you start baby-proofing your home:
Start early —ideally, three months before your due date —to avoid rushing. You’re going to want to go slowly —room by room —as you look, problem-solve and make lists of what every room needs.
Something else to keep in mind is that baby-proofing actually takes place in two rounds: First, before the baby’s arrival from the hospital. Second, once the baby starts crawling (at around 6 to 10 months).
The baby’s room is going to require the most work, so start there. One of the most important tasks is to ensure everything is secure, locked down and safe. Secure any dressers and bookshelves to the wall with screws, and pull the crib away from any other furniture. To avoid spills, make sure to put a thick rug or carpet below the changing table, and install non-skid rug liners underneath. For the crib itself, make sure that none of the cribs slats are more than 2-3/8" apart (standard with most manufacturers), and that all bolts and screws are tightly in place. All comforters, pillows, blankets and toys must be kept out of the crib, just make sure there are no gaps between the crib and the mattress.
Better safe than sorry
One of the most important baby-proofing principles is to consider how everyday items and parts of your home could actually prove dangerous for your little one. Some are more obvious than others: you’ll want to install a fireplace screen around hearths, put safety covers over electrical outlets, and install latches over any cabinets containing dangerous or sharp objects. You’ll also want to make sure your water heater is set below 120°F to make sure you won’t scald your baby at bath time, and make sure your TV is securely attached to a wall, table or entertainment center. And once your tyke starts crawling, install baby gates at the foot and top of stairs, as well as apply cushioned corner guards to the edging of coffee and side tables.
Don’t forget to ‘adult-proof’ as well
In the rush to prepare a space for a little one, new parents often forget to take care of hazards that might hurt them. Anything that might be a hazard to you, especially if you’re in a rush (which you’ll be…a lot) can present a problem to you, which can, in turn, affect your ability to care for your little guy or gal. Make sure to fix any wobbly furniture, especially chairs, and call a professional to handle any home improvement. Lights that flicker on and off could be a sign of faulty wiring and get any flaking or peeling paint sealed or removed by a professional. And it’s always a good time to make sure you have up to date smoke alarm batteries, fire extinguishers and a first aid kit.
Ultimately, baby-proofing is about seeing your home through your child’s eyes. One simple way to see if there’s anything you’ve forgotten is to get down on all fours to see what’s in reach and perhaps out of sight of us vertical-walking adults. You’ll also want to recognize that any small item, from the batteries in a remote control to the removal caps on doorstops, can become a choking hazard. If it can fit through an empty toilet paper roll, it’s a hazard and should be kept high and out of baby’s reach.
While these are some helpful tips to help get you started, it’s also important to do your own research (from multiple sources) as you decide what’s best for you and your family. Good luck, and happy baby-proofing!