Baby Proofing Guide

General Safety

Thinking about baby safety doesn’t necessarily come naturally to parents and, in fact, might seem like yet another overwhelming and intimidating task related to bringing up baby. Fortunately, babyproofing is something parents can–and should–take care of before baby even arrives, when you do not yet have the day-to-day care of a new infant as your first priority. You might consider it as the warm-up before the big game–a time to get into the right mindset for parenting and get comfortable with your equipment and strategy. Like many things, you should rely on instinct, but here are some general guidelines to help you make your home a safer place for your bundle of joy.

The guidelines below contain very specific suggestions about how to babyproof your home. However, it’s also helpful to keep some basic things about baby development in mind as you consider ways to make baby’s surroundings safe:

  • A new infant, though not mobile, requires safe equipment (car seats, cribs, strollers,monitors).
  • Once a baby can push herself up on her hands or roll over (around 3 to 6 months), you will need to make sure there is nothing within her reach in or above the crib or on a playmat that may be hazardous.
  • When a baby learns to creep or crawl (around 7 to 9 months), the area in need of babyproofing expands exponentially. You may have to develop babyproof “zones” in highly frequented areas of the home–rooms that are safe for baby and are blocked off from the rest of the home by gates or other equipment. Staircases now become a hazard, and some experts suggest that the bathroom and kitchen should be completely off-limits to mobile children, due to the difficulties involved in making those areas safe for baby.
  • A walking child can get much farther than a crawling child and can do so much faster. At this stage of the game (around 10 to 14 months) you will need to be especially vigilant about watching your child and making sure off-limits areas are well guarded by gates or other barricades. An upright child can also reach much higher than a crawling toddler, so the area that must be babyproof expands vertically as well as horizontally.

Basic Household Safety

“Better safe than sorry” is the best approach to adopt when it comes to making your home a safer place for your baby. The best way to assess what could pose potential hazards for your child is to see your home from a child’s point of view, quite literally. Start by getting down on your hands and knees and explore your home from that vantage point. When you view things from this perspective, it will probably become quite obvious to you just how dangerous that coffee table corner is or how easy it would be for a baby or toddler to stick curious fingers into an electrical socket. Below is a checklist of things you should do in every room in your house.

  • Use socket guards for all unused electrical sockets.
  • Use safety locks on all windows.
  • Put coins, keys, matches, batteries, paper clips, ashtrays, purses, and other small items out of your child’s reach.
  • Place safety latches on all cupboards and closets.
  • Install smoke detectors in all sleeping areas.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector.
  • Use corner cushions to protect your child from sharp corners.
  • Use cord shorteners to avoid exposure to window cords and wires in the house.
  • Secure gates at top and bottom of all stairways.
  • Eliminate baby’s access to the bathtubs, showers, toilets, swimming pools, and hot tubs.
  • Make sure cosmetics, perfume, aftershave, and other toiletries are out of reach.
  • Position pet food and the litter box out of baby’s way.
  • Post the number of your local poison control center next to telephones along with a list of other emergency numbers–such as the ER, pediatrician, grandparents and other close relatives, and neighbors. You can print our fridge sheet of useful numbers.
  • Stow cleaning products, paint, electrical tools, and exercise equipment out of baby’s reach.
  • Keep plastic wrap and plastic bags out of baby’s reach.

Living Room/Family Room/Nursery

  • Place knickknacks on a high shelf.
  • Use a fireplace screen that a baby cannot tip over, store fire utensils and matches out of baby’s reach, and cushion the corners of fireplace edges with padding or guards.
  • Use socket guards for all unused electrical sockets.
  • Cushion the edges of tables, desks, or other furniture with padding or guards.
  • Do not hang mobiles or other toys over the corner or sides of a playard once baby can push up on her hands, as this could present a strangulation hazard.
  • To prevent your toddler from hurting themselves climbing into or out of a playard, don’t leave them in a mesh playard with the drop side down, and keep the drop side of a playard up even when your child is not in it. Do not leave children unattended in a playpen.
  • Do not use use a playard with holes in the sides, as this could entrap a child’s limbs or head.
  • Avoid locking mechanisms on toy chests that could lead to pinched fingers or accidental closures.

Bathroom

Many experts suggest that babies and toddlers should not be allowed in the bathroom at all (except at bathtime or potty training sessions), as young children can drown in even the smallest amounts of water. However, because toddlers and crawlers are quite curious once they are up and moving on their own, experts suggest that you take the following safety precautions:

  • Keep the toilet lid down and secure it with a latch and do not allow children to play with the water in the bowl. An open toilet bowl presents a potential drowning hazard (not to mention a germ hazard).
  • Do not leave water in the bathtub when it is not in use. Children can drown in as little as 2 to 3 inches of water.
  • Do not leave a child unattended in the bathtub or rely on an older sibling to supervise.
  • Use nonskid mats in the bathtub to prevent slipping.
  • Check to see that the suction cups on a bath seat are securely attached to the bath seat and tub surface.
  • Never use the baby bath seat in a non-skid, slip-resistant bathtub because the suction cups may not adhere to the bathtub surface.
  • Do not rely on bath seats to keep baby safe in the bath.
  • Keep the medicine cabinet locked and keep all medications in childproof containers.
  • Move all soaps, shampoos, bath gels, razors, and other toiletries out of reach of children.
  • Before placing your baby in the bathtub, make sure you have everything you need to bathe your baby near you to prevent having to turn away from baby to fetch it later.
  • Test the temperature of the water before bathing your baby by using your wrist or elbow, and remember that babies may not be able to tolerate the same water temperature as an adult. The correct temperature should be between 96 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Place soft or inflatable covers over tub faucets to prevent bumps and bruises.

Dining Room

  • Always use all restraining straps provided on a highchair–both the waist strap and the strap that goes between the legs. Injuries or even strangulation can occur from unrestrained children slipping down under the highchair tray.
  • Make sure that the locking device on a folding highchair is fully engaged.
  • Don’t allow your child to stand up in a highchair or an older child to hang onto a highchair while baby is in it.
  • Place the highchair far enough away from the table, counter, or wall to prevent the child using that surface to push off and tip the chair over.
  • When seating a child at a table, use place mats instead of tablecloths, in case they succeed in pulling the tabletop items off the table.
  • Add sharp knives to place settings only after adults are seated.
  • Use plastic plates and glasses for children.
  • Be sure that your china and silverware are stored away from your baby’s curious grasp.

Kitchen

The kitchen, like the bathroom, is full of potential hazards. It may be best to block access to the kitchen with a safety gate.

  • Never leave babies or toddlers alone in the kitchen.
  • Do not let your baby play on the floor by the stove while you are cooking.
  • Use the back stove burners when possible. When using the front burners, turn the pot handles toward the back of the stove so that children cannot grab them.
  • Install cabinet and drawer latches and locks to prevent your child from finding items that may present a choking hazard.
  • Keep all dishwashing liquids and cleaning agents in locked or latched cabinets.
  • Keep sharp and potentially dangerous items out of reach.

Safety Gates

When your baby starts to crawl, explore, or use a walker, it’s time to install gates wherever potential hazards may be present around your home. At the top of stairs, at the bottom of stairs, and in between rooms, safety gates act as barricades that communicate which areas are off-limits for your little scooter. When purchasing gates for your home, there are several things to keep in mind: types of gates, features, and safety. We recommend you check our complete guide to choosing safety gates for your home.

Baby-Proofing Products

Tandem Strollers

Double and Triple Bundles of Joy

If you’re the lucky parent of multiples or if you have an infant and toddler in your household, walking them by yourself may sound next to impossible… unless you have a stroller made especially for more than one child. Tandem strollers offer the convenience of walking two (or three) children at the same time as comfortably as if you were walking just one. These strollers are also handy for carrying a child and groceries, once one child has outgrown it. They are available in a wide variety of fabrics and features. Double strollers are appropriate for newborns only when the full-reclining seat feature is available and can be used until your toddler is approximately 4 years old.

There are two types of double strollers:

  • Front-to-Back (Tandem) Style Front-to-back style: infants face forward, one in back of the other. These strollers fold easily and compactly for storage or travel. For maneuverability, this is a good choice; however, there is that “front seat” issue. Some models, however, do give the back seat a “boost” so that both babies can enjoy the view. The front-to-back style is best if you have an older child and a newborn. Features may include: a single canopy hood, separate canopies, individually reclining seats, rear wheel brakes, fully retractable rear seat for a sleeping infant, removable/washable pads, separate footrests, and restraining straps with safety buckle.
  • Side-by-Side Style Infants sit next to each other. These strollers are lightweight and fold quickly and compactly. Most will fit through normal-size doorways, although due to their sheer width it can be difficult to maneuver this “minivan” of sorts through grocery stores, crowded events, or if your children vary greatly in size or weight. The side-by-side style is most commonly used by parents of twins (or two or more children of comparable weight). Features may include: European styling, thick padding, removable/washable pads, individually reclining seats, single shared canopy, storage basket, footrest, and restraining straps with safety buckle.

A great choice to consider is the Baby Jogger City Select or the BOB Revolution SE Duallie Stroller – both have been rated very highly by parents.

Age range: As with the single stroller, if the seats recline fully, the stroller is appropriate for a newborn. You can use it until your children are 3 to 4 years old.

Strollers We Love

Travel Systems

A Convenient Package

One of the most convenient innovations in the stroller industry in recent years has been the travel system–a convenient stroller and infant car seat in one. The infant car seat provides head, back, and neck support for your newborn, while keeping baby in a comfortable, reclined position, just like a carriage. With the stay-in-car base feature, the infant car seat can also be used as an infant carrier. This allows you to take the infant car seat from the car to stroller and vice versa without ever disturbing your baby. Many travel system manufacturers have designed these strollers so that the car seat inserts with baby facing you. However, there are styles that allow you to insert the car seat so that baby can either face toward you or away from you. Either style will offer your baby a comfortable and secure ride. Once baby outgrows the infant car seat, it can be removed, converting the system into a convenience stroller. The stroller’s own seating and restraint system is used until your child is approximately 4 years old. These strollers are designed to fold quickly, easily, and compactly for storage, and offer many features that will make it a comfortable ride… for both of you.

Stroller features may include: Child play tray; parent cup holder; 3-point or 5-point harness system (not overhead); removable, washable pad; all-terrain, swivel wheels; brakes that set with a lever or foot pedal; seat recline; and storage basket.

Infant car seat features may include: Canopy, level indicator, ergonomically designed handle, head cushion, stay-in-car base.

Age range: Newborn (for car seat) to toddler (stroller).

Check out the Britax B-Agile Travel System or the Baby Trend Expedition – two travel systems that have been getting consistently great reviews from parents.

Strollers We Love

Lightweight & Umbrella Strollers

A Featherweight Backup

Light as a feather and easy to fold, lightweight strollers generally offer the most basic features and are made to store easily in an overhead bin, trunk, or closet. While these lightweight models are unbeatable for quick jaunts to the store, many parents find that they aren’t as comfortable for children on longer stints as their midsize or full-size counterparts. Still, many parents feel a lightweight stroller is great to have when a buggy, pram, or travel system is too unwieldy (while traveling, for example).

Ultralightweight models, dubbed “umbrella” because of their hooked handles, are best when used as a second stroller. If you are looking for a lightweight, affordable stroller that’s easy to take along for the ride (or toss in the trunk of your car), this would be the perfect choice. Do keep in mind, however, that umbrella strollers are not recommended for use with newborns or infants who require a fully reclining seat and head and neck support. Featuring aluminum frames and weighing as little as 5 pounds, most umbrella models offer a safety device that prevents accidental closing. Umbrella strollers are available in a wide range of prices according to the features offered, and will last you well into the early preschool years (3 to 4).


Features may include: Aluminum frames, semi-reclining seat (some fully recline), canopy, one-step fold, locking swivel wheels, and super lightweight.

Lightweight Umbrella Stroller Age range: If the lightweight stroller reclines fully, it is safe for a newborn; however, most umbrella strollers do not fully recline or have suspension features, so to make sure your baby is in the appropriate age range for these strollers, it is best to wait until baby is at least 4 to 6 months old.

We especially liked the the Summer Infant 3D Lite Convenience Stroller, a stroller which has many reviewers raving. If you can afford to spend a bit more on a stroller, the excellent Joovy Caboose Ultralight Stroller should be on the top of your list. This fine stroller is comfortable for both parent and little rider, and is the first choice of many parents we know.

Umbrella Strollers We Love

Mid-Size Strollers

Compact and Portable

Midsize strollers are designed to be portable and fold easily and compactly. You will most likely find the greatest range of prices ($40 to $500) and features in this category. Made of aluminum, the frames are relatively lightweight (typically just over 15 pounds), durable, and easy to maintain. Because of these features, they offer a smooth ride for city dwellers or those who enjoy longer walks. Because they are a bit heavier than a lightweight, they are sometimes not the best choice for travel. Although the convenient midsize strollers will offer your infant a safe and comfortable ride indoors and outdoors, only those models that offer a full-reclining seat feature are appropriate for use with newborns.

Features may include: Easy-to-use folding mechanism, midweight body (typically just over 15 pounds), canopy, and roomy storage basket. Deluxe models may include features like a fully reclining seat, extendable handle, and larger, all-terrain wheels.

Age range: If a midsize stroller fully reclines (and most do), it is safe for your newborn.

Our favorite stroller in this category is the B-Agile 3 Stroller by Britax. A solid, versatile stroller, and a great all-around choice. If you can afford to spend a bit more on your stroller, the UPPABaby Vista Stroller is a favorite among parents and should be on the top of your list.

Strollers We Love

Full-Size Strollers

Considered the “limousine” of baby strollers, full-size strollers offer numerous convenience and comfort options. Although heavier than other styles, there are some full-size models designed with aluminum frames for easier maneuvering as well as rust-resistance. Ranging from English-style buggies to feature-rich rugged models, the full-size stroller is a great all-purpose pick. Most are typically convertible–that is, they can be used as a carriage or a stroller, so they grow with your baby. Full-size strollers are appropriate for newborns because they have a full-recline feature, shock-absorbing suspension system, and oversize wheels to keep baby comfortable while strolling over varying terrain, and they remain suitable for use until your child reaches approximately 3 or 4 years of age.

Features may include: Multiple-position seat recline and strong back support, removable weather boot, extra seat padding, removable front tray, large storage basket, European-style canopy, reversible handle for conversion to carriage, dual wheel brakes, and adjustable footrest.

Age range: If the stroller reclines fully, it is appropriate for a newborn. It can be used with children up to 3 to 4 years of age.

Our favorite stroller is without a doubt the Bugaboo Cameleon3 Complete Stroller, a stroller that combines function, style, durability and most importantly safety to keep your baby happy and comfortable.

Strollers We Love