Babies and toddlers are a naturally curious bunch – and not exactly well-versed in proceeding with caution or care. That curiosity is a big part of how they learn, but can also cause preventable accidents if left unchecked. There’s much to consider when it comes to keeping babies safe at home and we know it can be overwhelming! Read on for some basic babyproofing tips along with our favorite picks from Munchkin’s arsenal of baby safety products.
When is the Best Time to Baby Proof?
Household dangers are inevitable. In a perfect world, you’d start babyproofing during the last leg of your pregnancy, when you have the time to assess your needs and refine purchases accordingly. Babyproofing is a precursor to childproofing, so keep in mind that you’ll need to revisit your safety strategy when your little one starts to crawl and scoot, and do another round when he’s old enough to walk or climb. Babyproofing is non-negotiable when you have a happy little explorer in the house, but it’s well worth the time and effort!
Identify Potential Household Hazards
The first step to babyproofing is to think like a baby. It may sound silly, but getting on all fours and cruising around is a good way to start. When you’re eye level with the floor, you might notice potential areas of concern that may not have otherwise crossed your mind.
Babyproofing is all about risk mitigation, and that looks different in every house. If you have toddlers or older kids, for example, you’ll want to be mindful of the toys and snacks they leave lying around. Babies love taste testing just about anything they come across, edible or not! Small, colorful toy pieces like Legos are irresistible and most definitely choking hazards – so be sure to place them out of baby’s reach. The same goes for battery-operated toys, household chemicals, detergent packets, medicine, and any other poisonous items that baby can get her hands on.
Be sure to check for additional hazards like cords (electric cords or those attached to window coverings and shades) and remote controls (small batteries be fatal or cause devastating injuries if swallowed) and move them out of baby’s reach. Tablecloths can be a hidden hazard, because they’re easy to pull down. Even a seemingly harmless bowl of hard candy can be a major risk. Bare surfaces are best at this stage.
Sharp table edges are also problematic. When my son was a year old, he fell forward onto one and split open his eyebrow (so. much. blood). And I was right next to him, so accidents can literally happen in a flash. We replaced that coffee table with a pair of ottomans shortly thereafter, but you can opt to put in a bumper or table edge protector instead.
Secure Doors, Cabinets, Drawers and Furniture
Keeping little ones safe is more than just having a watchful eye on curious crawlers and fearless toddlers (see coffee table story above). You can reduce the risk of injury with anti-tip devices and wall brackets that secure dressers, bookcases, consoles and other large furniture pieces to the wall. Keep babies out of places they don’t belong with Munchkin’s Xtraguard safety latches, a 2019 pick for Best Baby-Proofing Products by Reviewed.com. The latches’ flexible adhesive straps are easy to use, non-damaging, and great for a variety of uses, like securing cabinetry with breakables or cleaning supplies inside, or sealing microwaves and appliance doors. While babyproofing the kitchen, you might also consider knob covers for the range or stove. When they’re old enough to walk, these Door Knob Covers can help keep danger from knocking at your door. And of course, outlet covers are a must for all unused electrical outlets throughout the house.
When and Where to Install Baby Gates
Though you won’t need baby gates until baby is mobile, it’s a good idea to get ahead of the game (your future exhausted mom self will thank you!). Take time to measure each doorway, stairway and hallway and order child safety gates well in advance. When baby starts moving (it happens sooner than you expect!), you’ll be relieved to have gates on hand. Munchkin’s trusted baby gates come in pressure mounted and hardware mounted varieties and are very easy to install, with modern aesthetics that blend with any living room style. If you have a multi-story home, we recommend placing gates at both the top and bottom of the stairs. Don’t forget to place a gate at the door connecting to an attached garage as well – garages are ripe with dangers for kids. Don’t know where to start? Here are some helpful tips on choosing the right baby gate.
Keep Baby Safe in the Bath
When it comes to bath safety, slips and burns are common, but thankfully highly preventable. The Beak Tub Spout Guard helps prevent injury by covering the tub spout, which can hot to the touch. And our beloved White Hot® Ducky is the smartest rubber duck you’ll ever buy. Why? When it comes to water temperature, what’s comfortable for adults isn’t necessarily comfortable for super-sensitive newborns and babies. These ducks are a great way to gauge when the bathwater is too hot, because the the word HOT appears if you need to adjust the temperature. Always use a proper infant tub for your baby’s age and size, and a non-slip mat when they graduate to the regular tub. You can also look into setting your hot water heater to a certain temperature (the Mayo Clinic recommends below 120 degrees F, or 48.9 degrees C) to protect against unnecessary burns.
Babyproofing the Sleep Space
Here’s what you don’t need in baby’s crib or bassinet: bumpers, blankets, pillows, sleep positioners, or soft toys. Wearable sleep sacks are fine in lieu of blankets, though – they keep baby warm during cold nights and give him a sense of comfort and security, a bit like a weighted blanket might do. Make sure there are no hanging cords for baby monitors or window treatments within three feet of the crib or bassinet. If you have a soft rug in the nursery, don’t forget a non-slip rug pad underneath. And someday, when your little one transitions to a toddler bed, this mesh bed rail will keep him safe and secure during sleep.
Germ Safety at Home and On the Go
2020 has introduced new challenges and considerations when it comes to keeping kids and families safe. We’re all hyperaware of sanitizing practices these days, and this Nursery and Toy Sterilizer helps provide peace of mind. Babies can’t wear face coverings or masks, so the next best thing is to use UV light technology to safely kill 99% of viruses and germs from the surfaces of things that inevitably wind up in their mouths. If you’re always on the go, the portable 59S Mini Sterilizer is a smaller version that’s great for travel too. Just toss it in your diaper bag along with some antibacterial wipes and you’re set to safely sanitize dropped pacifiers, bottle nipples, teething toys and more. UV light is commonly used by hospitals to disinfect operating rooms, and these products are a great way to add an extra layer of hospital-grade safety and protection.
September may be Baby Safety Month, but Munchkin has spent the last three decades designing baby-safe products with both parents and babies in mind. We’re cheering you on as you navigate the overwhelming but necessary task of babyproofing. You’ve got this – and we’ve got you!