When you bring your newborn home for the first time – between feedings, naps and sleep schedules – things are going to move quickly. So it’s very important to make sure the house is safely set up for their grand arrival. In fact, the best time for baby proofing your home is at least three months before your due date because some of these preparations may take time.
To help you get started, here’s a list of general guidelines to keep in mind as you baby-proof your car, secure your home and prepare for emergencies.
Baby-Proofing Your Car
- Before your baby even gets to your house, they’ll have to ride in your car. Having the right car seat and installing it correctly is essential to keeping your baby safe. 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.
- Clear the car of any small objects that could be choking hazards, such as coins and pens.
- If the sun is strong where you live, consider applying stick-on sun shades to the back windows to block the rays.
Preparing The House
- Put non-slip pads under all rugs and make sure rugs don’t have curling edges that you (or a growing child) can trip on.
- Cover 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.
- If you plan to hook a highchair to your kitchen table, check that the table is sturdy and strong.
- Get rid of any blinds or curtains with looped cords, or install safety tassels and cord stops to tuck away the cords.
- Check your doorstops; many have removable caps that pose a choking hazard.
- Unplug and store electric appliances whenever they aren’t in use (iron, curling iron, etc.)
- Make sure all of your houseplants are non-toxic varieties. Some plants are extremely poisonous.
- Get any flaking or peeling paint sealed or removed by a professional, especially if your home was built before 1978 when it was more likely to have lead-based paint. Dust from lead paint, which was banned from residential use in that year, can be harmful if ingested.
Install a UL certified carbon monoxide detector on every story of your house if you use gas or oil appliances or have an attached garage.
- Install smoke detectors on every level of your home and in the hallways outside of bedrooms.
- Test the batteries of any detectors you already have.
- Install a temperature guard on your water heater at a maximum of 120 degrees Fahrenheit (48 degrees Celsius).
- Purchase a fire extinguisher and learn how to use it.
- Purchase a baby first aid kit, which is important to have at home so that, in case of an emergency, no one has to run out to the store and waste valuable time to get supplies.
- Add emergency contacts and medical information to your phone that can be accessed even in lock mode.
- Place a list of emergency numbers within easy access near a landline phone or on the refrigerator.
- Make sure your home or apartment number is easy to see so fire or rescue can locate you quickly in an emergency.
Creating A Safe Sleep Environment
- Finish all painting and wallpapering at least eight weeks before baby is expected to avoid exposing baby to any potentially harmful fumes.
- Secure any dressers and bookshelves to the wall with screws, and pull the crib away from any other furniture.
- If the crib is near a window, remove pull cords or use cord shorteners on window dressings. Those curious little arms like to reach out and cords can so easily get wrapped around your precious little one.
- Use a firm, flat mattress in a safety-approved crib. Soft mattresses can create a pocket (or indentation) and increase the chance of rebreathing or suffocation if the infant is placed in or rolls over to the prone (face down) position. Also, a solid mattress base provides the resistance necessary for developing and strengthening muscles.
- Keep soft objects and loose bedding away from baby’s sleep area. Do not use bumpers, comforters, pillows, blankets and toys in the crib to reduce the risk of SIDS and suffocation.
Your newborn baby will spend most of its time at home and in your car, and you’d be surprised at how easy it is for a baby to get into trouble. The first step in baby safety is making sure both of these places are completely safe for your newborn!