Practical, Low-Cost Ways to Baby Proof Your Home

Believe it or not, injuries in the household are one of the top reasons why children aged 3 and under visit the emergency room each year. Your child’s risk of injury starts from day 1, so it’s best to start thinking proactively about making your home safe and secure before baby comes home.

Even before your baby sits on his or her own, injuries can still occur. Here are the most common home injuries seen in children under 6 months:

Burns from water that’s too hot in the bath, hot beverage spills from parents/caregivers, hot buckles from carseats, and/or overheated formula or food.

  • Set water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, which can delay scalding by at least 15-20 seconds.
  • Never drink hot beverages while carrying or hovering over baby.
  • Tuck car seat buckles under the seat fabric or under a burp cloth when leaving your car. Feel the temperature of the metal before strapping your baby in.
  • Never heat breastmilk or formula in the microwave. The core of the milk is hotter than the outside. Make sure to swirl the bottle contents and test on the inside of your wrist first.

Falls from a height – all too often, little babies (often in their carseats) shimmy off a bed, changing table, couch or other furniture and get injured in the process. Even parents carrying their baby, unstrapped, can trip and fall, and baby goes flying.

  • Don’t rely on the straps that come with changing tables – take them off, keep one hand on baby at all times, and have supplies within arms reach.
  • Place babies in an approved carrier, and sit it on the floor, with straps on.
  • Never place a baby on a couch, chair or bed to sleep – there are also suffocation risks.
  • Avoid putting bouncy chairs on any surface but the floor.
  • Always strap baby in the carseat, even when carrying in the house.

Drowning – turning your back on baby in a tub, even if in a hammock, ring, or other device, allows enough time for accidental submersion.

  • Put your answering machine on, and plan to stay focused on baby during bath time.
  • Never turn your back when baby’s in the bath.
  • Never allow a child to bathe or supervise an infant in the bath.

Smoke/Fire/Second hand smoke – smoke or vapor of any kind irritates baby’s delicate respiratory tract and can lead to asthma and illness.

  • No one smokes or vapes in the house or car. Period.
  • Smokers should change into clean clothing before holding or caring for baby.
  • Make sure there are smoke alarms/CO alarms installed and working near baby’s room.
  • Create a family plan for emergencies – who takes the baby, the pets, etc. and where to meet.

Strangulation – from window blind cords, clothing strings, fringe, even long tethers for pacifiers. Babies can quickly become entangled.

  • Use a cleat or cup hook to elevate cords above baby’s reach, or cut cords shorter and knot ends.
  • Remove all cords and ribbons longer than 6 inches off from clothing and toys.

Suffocation can occur from soft objects, blankets, pillows, positioners, stuffed toys, or other things placed in the crib. Babies who fall asleep on chairs and couches also face suffocation/SIDS risk.

  • Keep crib zen. No bumpers, no pillows, no positioners or toys while baby is in the crib. Dress baby in layers to keep warm.
  • Only let baby sleep in an approved crib or co-sleeper.

Avoid remodeling/demolition if your house was built before 1978 – lead in paint that becomes airborne is toxic for both baby and parents.

  • Plan remodels before baby’s birth.
  • Use safe paints, low VOC and safe building materials.
  • Remember to mask off the air ducts in any rooms being remodeled so baby won’t share the air.

Lead Pipes – check to see if your plumbing has any lead pipes. Older buildings have either lead pipes or lead used in the soldering.

  • Use a Brita or other filter to trap lead and other impurities from drinking water or water mixing with formula.
  • Run COLD tap water vigorously for 10-15 seconds before using – this will wash most lead out leached into pipes overnight.

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About Dr. JJ Levenstein

Dr. JJ Levenstein is a board-certified pediatrician and fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and in 2012 retired from her thriving private pediatric practice in Encino, California. She served on the staff of CHLA and Encino Tarzana Hospitals for 20 years and was consistently voted one of the Best Doctors in America® from 2003 through 2012. Drawing from her experience as a pediatrician and mom, Dr. Levenstein serves as president and co-founder of MD Moms, makers of Baby Silk, the first personal care line for babies developed by pediatrician moms. She serves on the board of United Cerebral Palsy LA, is an active writer and sits on the advisory boards of several child-centered websites. She is an accomplished chef and completed culinary school in 2013! She has had a lifelong interest in child nutrition and all things related to preventive health.

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