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Whether your little one is zooming around on their hands and knees, starting to pull themselves up on the furniture, or stumbling around the house as they learn to walk, it’s important to ensure that your home is a safe space for them to learn, grow and explore. This is where babyproofing comes in. Babyproofing not only reduces the risk of potential accidents and injuries for your child, it also offers you peace of mind and simplifies daily routines by creating a more organised, secure living space.
Accidents can happen
According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) more than two million children under the age of 15 experience injuries in and around the home requiring a visit to A&E each year, yet taking simple steps to childproof your home could make all the difference towards ensuring it's a safer environment. Mumsnetter dottiedaisee advises:
Babyproof whatever makes your life less stressful. It literally only takes a second to be distracted and an accident happens. I’m not sure how a baby or toddler can be supervised 100% at all times!
It might sound daunting, but babyproofing your home doesn’t have to be complicated or completed all at once. In fact, many parents like MeadowHay babyproofed their house in stages.
We just did things we needed to as we went along. The first thing we did was stick pads onto corners of tables and things as DD kept sitting close to them/pulling up to standing and almost banging her head on them. She was probably about eight months old or so when we did that.
Safety Corner Protectors
Not sure where to start in your home? We’ve got you covered with this comprehensive guide, covering everything from when to start babyproofing to which areas in your house need it most.
What is babyproofing?
Babyproofing, in essence, is the process of making your home environment safe and secure for your baby or toddler (or both!). It involves identifying and addressing potential hazards or dangers that could harm your child. This proactive approach aims to minimise the risk of accidents and injuries like falls, burns, electrical shocks, choking or poisoning, which are more common during your baby's early stages of exploration and discovery.
Typical babyproofing measures include installing good-quality stair gates to block stairways and dangerous areas, securing heavy furniture and appliances to prevent tipping, covering electrical outlets, locking away hazardous substances, ensuring window safety, and using corner protectors to cushion sharp edges. We cover all of these in more detail below.
Of course, you can also use other ways to keep your little one safe whilst you’re busy in the house. Mumsnetter Guineapigbridge found a playpen useful during the festive season. She says, “It’ll be useful to put around your Christmas tree when you have a toddler too. And if you have another baby, it can keep your toddler away from poking at the baby.”
Essentially, babyproofing is about creating a nurturing, worry-free environment, knowing that your home is a secure space for your little one to explore, whilst you get to enjoy a hot cup of tea!
When should you begin babyproofing?
Babyproofing should ideally begin before your baby starts to crawl or explore independently. Many experts recommend starting the process around the three- to four-month mark, as this gives you enough time to identify potential hazards and implement safety measures before your baby becomes more mobile. However, the exact timing can vary based on your child's developmental milestones. You’d be surprised how quickly a baby can get in trouble too. For instance, the cords on your window blinds could be a choking or strangulation hazard, and pillows, plush toys or blankets in the cot or sleeping area could also put your child at risk of suffocation.
Keep in mind that babyproofing is an ongoing process, as your child's abilities and interests evolve, so regularly reassess your home for potential issues and make necessary adjustments as your baby grows.
According to the Consumer Safety Unit's 24th Annual Report, the largest number of accidents happen in the living/dining room. However, the most serious accidents happen in the kitchen and on the stairs, so it’s important to cover these big areas first.
Before you officially start babyproofing your home, spend a couple of days looking over your entire space with a critical eye, and taking note of any potentially dangerous areas or objects whilst considering how your baby is going to move from crawling to climbing and then walking. This will give you a good overview and a place to start.
Here’s how to tackle babyproofing room by room.
Staircases are a top priority when it comes to making your home safe for your little explorer. As your child begins to crawl, climb and walk, stairs can become quite the adventure – and a potentially dangerous one. So, it's essential to add stair gates at both the top and bottom of your stairs to keep your child from wandering into this area on their own.
Make sure these gates are properly secured and meet safety standards. Mumsnetter Dyra says, “We had a stair gate installed at the top of the stairs by the previous owners. We were unable to install one at the bottom of the stairs, otherwise we'd have done that as well. I imagine we'll have to put a stair gate up on her room once she's tall enough (and able to) open her bedroom door.”
Flappityflippers1 advises, “If you’re putting a stair gate at the top of the stairs, be sure it doesn’t have a ledge on it (so when you open it, it’s completely flat and can’t trip over). We just did a gate on DS room upstairs.”
You might also want to consider adding soft corner protectors to cover any sharp edges or corners along the staircase to prevent bumps and bruises.
The living room
One of the main concerns in the living room is the potential for tumbles and accidental collisions with furniture that has those pointy corners. If you're dealing with sharp edges, a simple solution is to use stick-on corner guards to make your space safer for your little one. If you’re keen to reevaluate your furniture, softer and rounder ottoman-style coffee tables are a safer bet than glass coffee tables with sharp edges.
When it comes to furniture or electronics like TV’s that can topple over, most parents agree that it’s a top priority for these large objects to be secured to the wall, should the kids pull themselves up or hang on it.
Mc3209 says, “I’m planning to put a baby gate at the top of the stairs and fix all large furniture to the wall like bookshelves and drawers - basically anything he can pull up on or try to climb. We’ll do that once he’s able to manoeuvre from one place to another, be it crawling/shuffling, and the rest will play it by ear.”
BertieBotts adds, “High furniture and flatscreen TVs need to be tethered ideally to the wall. Also, chests of drawers even if fairly low, because when the drawers are opened and climbed in, they can tip over.”
Lastly, if your living room has easy access to the front door, be sure to keep it locked. Mumsnetter, ValpolicellaPrimitivo says, “The other thing we had to do was always make sure the front door was dead locked and we put a key hook up high next to the door as DS had a habit of opening it.”
If you have an open fireplace, the NHS maintains that you should always use a fireguard that encloses the whole fireplace, and preferably one that can be attached to the wall. Avoid putting anything on it or hanging things from it. Additionally, always keep matches and lighters out of reach of children.
Canyousewcushions used large fireguards in her living room. She says, “We have the massive ones but not actually anchored to the wall so we can take them down after bedtime and through summer. Will use them until youngest is 4 or 5 I guess.”
Or you could double up your baby items and use a playpen as a fireguard as Mumsnetter Figmentofimagination explains, “We bought a six-sided playpen that can be used joined together or as a room divider with it secured to the wall. Firstly, we used it as a playpen to put DS in, but as he has gotten older, we’ve changed things around. We now have two sides and the gate as a fireplace guard, and two other sides to block a side table that has plug sockets underneath it.”
The Christmas tree
During the festive season, there’s no doubt that the twinkling lights and shiny ornaments on your Christmas tree are enticing to curious babies and toddlers, but they can pose various hazards. Glass baubles hanging low on the tree may break, creating sharp shards that could hurt your child. Tinsel, while visually appealing, can be a choking hazard if little ones decide to wrap it around their necks and of course, there’s a serious risk of injury if your child tries to pull the entire tree over.
By creating a protective barrier around the tree and strategically placing delicate ornaments out of reach, your family can enjoy the Christmas tree, worry-free. Mumsnetter, AnnaSW1 shares her Christmas tree strategy, “Mine pulled it over! For the last two years, I got an artificial M&S table top tree instead. This year my kids are four, and I'm reverting to buying a big real one again.”
It's really important to make your windows safe for your little explorer. For one, it prevents the scary possibility of your child accidentally falling out of an open window, which we all want to avoid. Plus, it keeps those window blind cords, which can be quite tempting for kids, out of reach to prevent any strangulation hazards.
The NHS says that windows should be fitted with locks or safety catches. This step, in addition to ensuring cords are tucked away, will not only make your home safer but also establish a secure environment for your little one to roam throughout the house – wherever the windows are.
Since the bathroom is where there’s likely to be water (in the bath, toilet or sink) and therefore a potential drowning risk, as well as medications and cleaning supplies, this area of the home needs special attention.
According to the NHS, medicines are the most common cause of hospital admissions for poisoning in under-5s, and common painkillers like paracetamol and ibuprofen are the main culprits. So, it’s important to keep all medicines locked away or high up out of your child’s reach and sight. Also be sure to stash cleaning products high up out of reach, including those for the toilet. If this isn't possible, fit safety locks to low cupboard doors.
When it comes to preventing drowning, the first line of defence is active supervision during bath time, ensuring you stay within arm's reach and never leave your child unattended. Additionally, keep the bathroom door securely closed when not in use, utilising childproof locks to restrict access. Empty the bath and sink immediately after use and install non-slip mats to reduce the risk of slipping in the bath or shower.
Toilet seat locks are also a simple but effective measure to prevent accidental access to the toilet water. Educating your child about water safety from an early age is crucial, emphasising the risks associated with water and the importance of not playing in the bathroom without supervision.
Think about the possible dangers your child might reach in the kitchen. In homes with open-plan kitchens, it's important to remember that even if you're in the living room, your little explorer can quickly reach the cabinets or pantry.
Letsallscreamatthesistene has the following advice: “I use stairgates and cupboard locks for the kitchen cupboards that have stuff in that I don’t want DS to get hold of, like the cupboard under the sink that has all the cleaning products in.”
Himawarigirl agrees that magnetic safety locks are amazing but believes it’s great for kids to have access to a safe Tupperware cupboard as it encourages imaginative play. Laserbird16 also rearranged her cupboards so noxious chemicals are high up, plus she’s kept exploratory drawers like Tupperware and things that can't be broken like the colander, low down.
MuchTooTired suggests keeping the kids out of the kitchen using screw-fit stair gates. “Crawlers aren’t so bad, but once they start walking it’s a whole other kettle of fish. Oh, and door stops and door wedges that stop the door closing on their fingers if you’ve got kids like my two who delight in a game of open/close door,” she adds.
Here’s a kitchen safety checklist to consider:
Use stove knob covers to prevent accidental hob activation.
Place safety locks on the oven and dishwasher.
Secure heavy appliances and objects to prevent tipping.
Lock away sharp utensils and knives.
Use corner guards on countertops to protect against head bumps.
Install outlet covers on all accessible electrical outlets.
Keep tablecloths and placemats out of reach to avoid pulling hot dishes or sharp objects.
Store cleaning products and chemicals in a locked cabinet.
Use a stove guard to prevent access to hot surfaces.
A note on cables
When it comes to any cables in the kitchen, The NHS advises using a kettle with a short or curly flex to stop it hanging over the edge of the work surface, where it could be grabbed. AuntyJack adds, “Unplug anything connected to any moveable appliance. If something needs to stay plugged in, make sure the cord is inaccessible behind a cabinet or something.”
Mumsnetter, Bringallthebiscuits agrees and says “Something I hadn’t thought about till it happened was the danger of them using a plugged in cable to pull things down on themselves - for example an Alexa we had plugged in. Also make sure they can’t reach any surfaces through climbing on furniture and leaning over. We have a very determined climber!”
Although SafeHome’s 2022 Annual Report revealed that only 3% of parents in the US viewed their child’s nursery or bedroom as potentially hazardous, compared to the kitchen or living room for instance, it’s still wise to babyproof this space to create a safe and nurturing environment where kids can explore and rest without unnecessary risks.
When arranging the nursery, ensure that there are no hanging objects directly above your baby's cot, and avoid placing any pictures or decorations on the wall behind them. This reduces the risk of anything falling into the crib and potentially hurting your child.
As your baby grows and becomes more adventurous, choose a toy box without a heavy lid, which can be a hazard and opt for one with a lightweight design that won't accidentally trap little fingers. Consider using finger pinch guards on doors to prevent painful accidents and if you notice that your child is attempting to climb out of their crib, it's crucial to provide a soft-landing spot to avoid serious injury. Place soft, cushioned mats or rugs around the crib to cushion any potential falls. Keep all baby products like creams, ointments, mosquito repellents etc, safely locked away in a higher drawer or cupboard.
Lastly, secure any shelves or cupboards that have the potential to tip over to the wall. This ensures that curious hands won't accidentally pull heavy furniture onto themselves, providing a safer and more worry-free nursery for your little one.
While some parents don’t think it’s necessary to babyproof all radiators in the house, this step very much depends on the types of radiators you have in your home (some get hotter than others), how many you have and where they’re positioned.
Installing radiator covers or guards to create a barrier between your child and the hot surface is a good idea. These guards not only protect little hands from burns but also prevent small objects from being accidentally dropped into the radiator. Additionally, use safety straps or anchors to secure the radiator cover in place, ensuring it can't be easily removed by your child.
Remember the process of babyproofing your home should be ongoing as your child grows and learns new skills, or as your home evolves. Try to see things through your curious child's eyes to spot any possible dangers and ensure a safe and happy environment for them.
About the author
Tammy Jacks has 15+ years' experience in the publishing industry, enjoying a long and fruitful career as Managing Editor and Health & Beauty Editor for Woman & Home magazine in South Africa. She later went on to become Assistant Editor of popular South African parenting title Living and Loving, and has written for numerous lifestyle publications including Oprah Mag SA, Health Intelligence, Your Family, Longevity and pharmaceutical company Clicks Clubcard Magazine, as well as edited books for popular fitness influencers and health professionals.
Tammy has always been passionate about fitness, wellness and nutrition and is a keen marathon runner and cyclist. She is also a mum to a busy six-year-old girl.