Like most first-time parents, you’re probably feeling a bit overwhelmed right now—and it’s no wonder. Everyone is giving you advice, you’re spending a ton of money on the nursery, and now you’re facing your first parenting challenge: baby proofing your home.
Take a deep breath and repeat, “I can do this!”—because we’re here to make sure you can. Based on my experience as a mom, and through interviews with other veteran moms, we’ve put together this list of tips to help you create a safe environment for your baby.
1. Secure Windows to Help Prevent Falls
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls accounted for 59% of nonfatal Emergency Department visits for babies less than one year of age.1 Unfortunately, some of these injuries are a result of babies falling out of windows. Your newborn won’t be mobile for a few months, but it’s wise to go ahead and secure your home’s windows now.
What to Do:
Help create a baby proof home by moving furniture away from windows so your baby can’t pull up or climb to reach them. Then, install window stops on all of your home’s windows so they can’t open more than four inches. Remember, screens alone are not strong enough to prevent your baby from falling out of the window.
2. Invest In a High-Quality Baby Video Monitor
Whether you choose a basic model or one with advanced features, a high-quality baby video monitor is worth its weight in gold. A well-made baby monitor not only allows you to better see and hear your baby, but also alerts you when your baby needs to be changed or is in possible danger.
What to Do:
Buy the best monitor you can. Avoid the frustration of researching monitors yourself by consulting the SafeWise baby monitor buyers guide. Here you’ll find thorough baby monitor reviews that include features, pros, cons, and our top ten recommended brands.
Sydney, mom of twins, says, “We bought a monitor with nighttime video, and I’m so glad we did. It’s definitely a feature I recommend—especially considering most new moms and dads want to check on their baby several times per night.” She adds, “Don’t make the mistake we did—figure out how to work the monitor and get familiar with all of its features—before you bring your baby home.”
3. Install Baby Safety Gates and Learn How to Work Them
Baby safety gates are must-have items for expectant parents who want to make a baby proof home. In addition to containing your baby in a safe room or preventing a fall down the stairs, baby gates can help keep pets at bay until they’re comfortable with your family’s new addition.
What to Do:
Use our baby gate buyers guide to find a high-quality gate. Remember that pressure gates can become loose, so don’t use them at the top of stairs—choose a baby safety gate that screws into the wall instead. Install safety gates several weeks before your baby is due and practice opening and closing them. This way, even if your little bundle is born sooner than expected, you’ll be prepared.
4. Buy a Bathtub Designed for a Newborn
According to the CDC, drowning is responsible for more deaths among children ages 1 to 4 than any other beside birth defects.2 Equally disheartening is the fact that the Commission Product Safety Commission estimates a total of 2,300 infant injuries related to bathtubs occurred from 2004 to 2015.3
What to Do:
Wash your newborn in a bathtub specifically designed for them—not in your household tub and never in any type of bucket or container. Baby proofing your home is all about safety, so we want to remind you that a baby can drown in as little as one inch of water. With that in mind, never leave their side or rely on baby bath rings to keep your newborn safe.
Ella, mom of two, says, “Bathtubs aren’t the only potential drowning hazard for babies. I caught my daughter trying to climb into the toilet! Until then, I had never thought of a toilet as dangerous. Don’t wait until your baby is crawling or pulling up, install a toilet lid lock on all of your homes toilets now.”
5. Contain Cords on Blinds and Curtains
Cords of any type are dangerous for children, but ones that raise blinds or open curtains are notorious strangulation hazards.
What to Do:
If your home has blinds or curtains with cords, secure them with a product like Dreambaby Blind Cord Wraps, or, better yet, swap them out for cordless window coverings. Check with the Window Covering Safety Council for more idea about baby proofing your window coverings. We also recommend using a cord shortener on long electrical cords and securing extension cords with a rubber duct cord cover.
6. Protect Your Home with a Security System
A security system is a smart investment in your family’s safety and security. In addition to helping protect your home from intruders, many security systems can also alert you to dangers like smoke, fire, and carbon monoxide.
What to Do:
Learn how to choose the best home alarm system for your needs. Keep in mind there are some good DIY security systems that don’t require monitoring, but for the most comprehensive protection, SafeWise recommends monitored home security systems.
Amanda, mom of two, says, “I started telecommuting once I had my son, but frankly I was worried about our safety—even though we live in a good neighborhood. A friend said her home security system made her feel safer as a stay-at-home mom. She suggested we get one, and we did. I immediately felt more at ease. Plus, my husband liked that our home security cameras allowed him to check in on us right from work, and get more facetime with our baby. A total win-win.”
7. Research Baby Cribs and Baby Car Seats Carefully Before You Buy
Just like cribs help keep your baby safe and comfortable while they’re resting, car seats protect them while they’re traveling. In both cases, it’s vitally important you choose the best one for your baby’s needs.
What to Do:
Reference our car seat buyers guide to discover the top baby car seats of 2017 and learn more about car seats for newborns. Practice installing your newborn’s car seat before your baby arrives and have it checked at a car seat inspection station to make sure it’s installed properly.
As for cribs, familiarize yourself with the different types of baby cribs and find out which ones we’ve reviewed and approved. Make sure to set up your baby’s crib according to the manufacturer’s directions, and once it’s in use, periodically check it for safety.
Isabell, mom of four, says, “I made the mistake of buying a crib based on looks. Sure, it matched the nursery perfectly, but it became unsteady in just a few months and put my baby in jeopardy.” She adds, “Not only that, but it was also super expensive. My advice to new parents? Research and read reviews to find a safe baby crib—and remember, a hefty price tag guarantees a quality product.”
8. Embrace Home Automation
Home automation allows you to control a wide range of things right from your mobile device, including lights, locks, electrical outlets, appliances, and thermostats. You can also set schedules so your home’s devices and systems virtually run on their own—leaving you more time to play with your newborn or take a much-needed, daily nap. What’s more, home automation devices can help get you through the toddler years—and trust us, they’ll be here before you know it.
What to Do:
Take an interactive tour of today’s automated home to learn more about common home automation features. Then, consider pairing home automation with home security for additional convenience and enhanced safety.
Congratulations, you’re now well on your way to creating a safe and comfortable home for your baby. While you’re waiting for their arrival, take our quick and easy home security test to assess your home’s possible security weaknesses and get actionable tips for correcting them.
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention, and National Center for Injury and Control, “National Action Plan for Child Injury Prevention”
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Unintentional Drowning: Get the Facts”
3. Consumer Product Safety Commission, “Safety Standard for Infant Bath Tubs”