Baby Proofing Checklist

It won’t be long before your little one gets mobile and starts exploring, so you'll need to baby proof your house or flat and create a safe environment before your baby can crawl or walk. To help you with this, we’ve made a list of baby proofing ideas so you can easily work your way through your home and get this important task out of the way.

What Is Baby Proofing?

Baby proofing is taking steps to make your home safe for your baby or toddler. Baby proofing precautions you might need to take include:

  • Fitting safety devices to mechanisms like doors, windows or drawers

  • Adding barriers, like a baby gate, to keep your child away from hazards such as stairs or fireplaces

  • Locking dangerous things (for example, household chemicals, medicines) away or moving them out of reach

  • Securing heavy furniture like cupboards and TV stands to prevent toppling

  • Eliminating or covering sharp edges and corners.

When you start baby proofing, it’s helpful to look at things from your baby’s perspective, because what seems like a harmless, everyday object to you can be dangerous to your tiny tot. It might feel a bit silly at first, but one thing you can do is crawl around your own home to get a ‘tot’s-eye view’ of the hazards your child could encounter. It's also important to keep in mind that no safety measure can replace parental vigilance and careful supervision.

When Should You Baby Proof Your House?

It makes sense to tackle most baby proofing tasks before your baby starts crawling, and you may like to take on some of the bigger jobs during pregnancy to get them out of the way before your baby’s arrival. You might find you have more energy for baby proofing during the second trimester of your pregnancy, between around 14 and 27 weeks pregnant. This is when many mums-to-be get an energy boost and some of the more debilitating early pregnancy symptoms like nausea and fatigue may be wearing off. Baby proofing is an ongoing task though, so you may need to do several rounds of it and keep a watchful eye out for anything that may be unsafe as your infant becomes bigger and more agile. For example, it’s a good idea to double-check all your safety measures before your child starts walking or moving around by holding onto the furniture. You may also have to do additional rounds of child proofing as your child gets taller and is able to reach more cupboards, for example.

Baby Proofing Tips for All Areas

Although some safety concerns are specific to a particular room – for instance you’ll need to baby proof the oven door in the kitchen – there are a few safety issues that could be present in every part of the house. We’ll take you through these general tips here:

Plug Sockets and Electric Cables

Here are some ways to baby proof your home to protect your baby from coming into contact with electrical cords and power outlets

  • Cover plug sockets. Baby proof power outlets with a cover. Experts advise using a lockable cover that fits right over the housing of the power outlet, and NOT the ‘blank plug’ type that you push into the holes of the socket itself. A properly fitted plug socket cover can be closed even when a plug is in the outlet, locking it into place so that inquisitive little fingers can’t pull the plug halfway out and accidentally touch the metal pins. Get on your hands and knees and look around so you don’t miss any sockets. For example, crawling under your desk may remind you of the rarely used outlet beneath it.

  • Tie up or cover electrical cables. Baby proof all cables and cords, including the ones for your charging devices, computer, Wi-Fi router, home entertainment centre, lamps and household appliances. Your baby or toddler could get an electric shock if he or she chews on a cable. Flexes and cables can also be a strangulation hazard. Protect and hide electrical wires in child-safe cable tubes or secure them high up out of reach.

  • Block power outlets and cords with furniture. In some cases, you may be able to block access completely by using heavy furniture like a bookshelf or a TV stand, for example. Just make sure your little one can’t reach behind or under the furniture, and that the furniture itself is secured to the wall.

Floors

When baby proofing your house, make the floor a safer place for your baby to crawl, walk and play by doing the following:

  • Remove any small objects that are in reach. Children love putting things in their mouths. Coins, buttons, screws and other small objects could be a choking risk, so take a good look around to make sure nothing that could be dangerous is in your baby’s reach. While you’re checking the floor, include low cupboards, shelves, baskets and boxes too. Move anything that’s unsafe out of reach or place it in a suitably baby proof locked cupboard.

  • Button batteries are especially hazardous, because if swallowed they can short-circuit and discharge, causing internal burns. Seek urgent medical attention – take your child to A&E or call 999 – if you think your baby may have swallowed a battery.

  • Remove or secure rugs. When your child is old enough to walk, rugs can become a tripping hazard. Even before that, you might find it safer to have a more obstacle-free environment when you’re carrying your newborn baby. You might decide to roll them up and pack them away until your child is older and steadier on his or her feet. If you’d rather not have a bare floor, use a rug-grip underlay to reduce the risk.

Windows

The outdoors is enticing for your tiny explorer, so child proofing your windows is important so your child can’t crawl or topple out. Here are a few things you can do:

  • Install window restrictors. These essential items of baby proofing kit allow you leave a window slightly ajar for ventilation, but without it opening far enough for your child to fall out. Be sure to buy a restrictor that’s suitable for the kind of windows you have in your home. These devices should not allow a window to open more than 6.5 centimetres. Even if you do use a window restrictor, never leave your child unattended next to an open window.

  • Add child proof window locks. This is an essential part of baby proofing your house, to help ensure that your toddler doesn’t accidentally open the windows. Always remember to lock windows when you close them. If window locks or restrictors use a key, adults in the house should know where the keys are kept so the windows can be opened in the event of a fire.

  • Remove any furniture from under windows. Children can climb onto furniture to access a high up open window, so move any furniture that your child could climb up on.

  • Use cordless window coverings. Cords can be a strangulation hazard. If you do have any loose dangling cords, cut them shorter, tie them up, wrap them around a cord cleat or use other safety devices like cord wind-ups to keep them out of reach of your child.

  • Use shatterproof glass. Find out if your windows already have shatterproof glass (modern double-glazed windows often do). If they don’t have this child proofing feature already installed, applying a layer of safety film could be an affordable alternative to reglazing the entire house.

Doors

To make sure your little adventurer doesn't wander out while you’re not watching, and to avoid door-related injuries, follow these guidelines for baby proofing your doors and doorways:

  • Use door stoppers. These devices prevent doors from shutting completely, so your child can’t get a hand or foot trapped in a closing door.

  • Use baby gates to close off doorways. You could lock doors that you want to remain off-limits to your child, but in some cases you might like to have the door open between rooms but still prevent your little one from accessing certain areas. In this case, baby gates are a great solution.

  • Make glass doors and panels safe. Glazed doors should have safety glass whenever the glazed part is at child-level. Instead of replacing the glass, it may be possible to add a layer of safety film to an existing glass door or panel.

  • Install finger guards over door hinges. Sometimes when doors open a gap appears between the hinge and the doorframe, and little fingers could get trapped in this space when it closes up again. A finger guard installed over this gap can prevent painful accidents like this from happening.

Furniture

From baby proofing the coffee table and cabinets to securing the TV stand, take steps to make sure your furniture is safe and secure. Here are a few baby proofing tips to consider when it comes to your furniture:

  • Secure large, heavy items. Sooner or later, your little explorer will try to pull him or herself up by holding onto objects. Make sure that any free-standing furniture like bookcases, dressers, chests of drawers, shelving units and the TV stand are all secured to the wall or floor so there’s no danger them toppling over onto your child. Anti-tip straps or brackets (which attach to the furniture and wall) may be supplied with new furniture, but you can also find them in most DIY stores for existing furniture.

  • Baby proof sharp corners. All sharp edges on furniture should be cushioned to prevent injuries if your toddler bumps into them. Put corner guards on table edges, especially lower-level furniture like coffee tables, bedside tables and TV stands.

  • Fit safety catches to cupboard doors or low drawers. This aspect of baby proofing should also include sliding wardrobe doors. Keep your child out of cupboards that hold small, dangerous or breakable items such as medications, cleaning products, glassware and electrical appliances. Better still, keep such items high up and out of reach altogether.

  • Remove dangerous items from lower storage spaces. If a storage space doesn’t have any lockable doors, dangerous items should be placed high up and out of reach.

  • Check that glass in furniture is safe. If you buy cupboards, tables or any other furniture items that contain glass, check for the British Standards kitemark to make sure the glass complies with UK safety standards.

Stairs

Until your child can confidently walk up and down stairs unsupervised, it’s important to block access to the stairs. This way, you can control when your budding mountaineer gets to practice using the stairs and you’ll always be there to catch any falls. Here are a few tips:

  • Block the stairs with baby gates. If you have stairs in the house, you'll need to baby proof the stairs by placing baby gates both at the top and the bottom of the stairs. Once the baby gates are in place, it’s good to get into the habit of always closing them even before your baby starts to crawl. Experts advise keeping the baby gates up until your child is at least 2 years old.

  • Check your banisters for gaps. Measure the distance between the bannisters on your stairs. If they’re more than 6.5 centimetres apart, baby proof them by covering them with safety netting or boards to prevent your baby from squeezing through.

Babyproofing Your Home

Other Baby Proofing Tips for the Whole House

Before you launch into baby proofing specific rooms of the house, check you’ve done the following in all areas of your home where it’s needed:

  • Install smoke detectors

  • Move indoor plants so that they are out of reach and remove any poisonous houseplants altogether

  • Get rid of any plastic bags you have lying around or place them well out of your child’s reach

  • Fit a fireguard or screen around any baby proof fireplaces and other heat sources like electric or gas fires, radiators, floor heaters etc. The fireguard or screen should be secured to the wall and enclose the whole fireplace or other heat source.

  • Keep alcoholic beverages locked away and out of reach

  • Store portable cords, such as those for your laptop and phone charger, someplace out of reach

  • Place breakables like glass or ceramic vases out of reach

  • Lock away any potential hazards, like cleaning supplies, paint, tools, chemicals, batteries, matches, pins and medicines, or store them way up high so that they’re completely out of reach of your baby

  • Keep the vacuum cleaner cord retracted when it’s not in use. Put the appliance away when it’s not being used.

  • Buy or assemble a baby first aid kit, and make sure everyone in the family – and anyone else who cares for your little one – knows where it’s kept and how to use the items it contains

  • Download a first aid app such as the British Red Cross’s Baby and Child First Aid app.

In Summary

Baby proofing steps you might need to take all over the house include securing heavy furniture like TV stands, cupboards and chests of drawers to the wall. Take steps to ensure windows, doors, stairs, power outlets, fireplaces and other fixtures and fittings don’t present a hazard. Secure or tidy away stray cords and electrical cables, household chemicals, plastic bags and any other sharp or dangerous items.

 

Nursery

Beyond what we’ve described above, here are a few additional things to bear in mind when baby proofing your baby’s nursery (or your own bedroom, if that’s where your baby will be sleeping):

Cot

Follow these tips on how to baby proof your little one’s cot:

  • Check that your baby’s cot meets safety standards. If you’re buying a new cot, check that it’s certified to British Standard BS EN 716-1. If you plan on getting a used or handed-down cot, check it’s sturdy and the distance between the bars is a minimum of 2.5 centimetres and a maximum of 6 centimetres. If it has any moving parts, make sure they work smoothly and there’s no way fingers or clothing can become trapped. Don’t use a cot that has broken or missing parts, or any signs of damage.

  • Keep an eye on the cot. Regularly check your baby’s crib for any damage like loose slats, chipped paint or wood and loose screws.

  • Use only the original parts, screws, bolts and components of the cot. Don’t modify the cot or substitute any missing parts with something you have at home or have bought from a DIY store. Contact the manufacturer or the retailer where you purchased the cot if you notice any broken or missing parts.

  • Use a mattress that fits snugly. Make sure the mattress is a snug fit with no gaps between the mattress and the frame, as any extra space could trap legs or arms. If you get a new mattress, throw away all plastic wrapping and material that comes with it.

  • Keep the cot empty. Keep stuffed animals, toys, quilts, blankets and pillows out of the crib in the first 12 months. This is crucial for safe sleep and helping to prevent SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).

  • Don’t use cot bumpers. These aren’t recommended because they can obstruct airflow and cause your baby to overheat. Babies can also get tangled up in the fastenings.

  • Lower the mattress in good time. If the cot’s mattress height can be adjusted, read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to find out when the mattress needs to be lowered so your baby can't fall or climb out over the top rail. Lower the mattress before your child can crawl over the top of the railing.

  • Remove any cords. Make sure the cot is not placed near any dangling cords such as blind cords, night light cords and baby monitor cables. A mobile suspended over the cot should also be completely out of reach.

Baby Sleeping Safely in a Cot

Changing Table

The safest place to change your baby’s nappy is on a changing mat on the floor. However, you might find a changing table more comfortable and convenient for changing and dressing your baby.

It could also be a good place for giving your little one a soothing baby massage.

Here are some changing table safety tips:

  • Never leave your baby unattended. Babies can wriggle, turn and roll over unexpectedly, so always keep an eye and a hand on your baby when he or she is up high on the changing table or any other high surface. Don’t turn away or leave the room – not even for a second. This applies even if your infant is secured with straps that are fitted to the changing table.

  • Use a sturdy changing table with raised sides. Make sure the changing table you choose is stable, and preferably has raised sides to hold a changing mat in place and prevent your baby slipping off.

  • Keep all supplies within your reach, but not your baby’s. Make sure it’s easy for you to reach nappies, wipes and other supplies, but make sure your baby can’t grab hold of them. This is doubly true when it comes to plastic packaging and the liners you might use for your nappy bin as these can all pose a choking or strangulation risk.

  • Secure the changing table to the wall. Just like other heavy furniture, the changing table should be secured to the wall to prevent it from toppling over while your baby is on or under it.

In Summary

Make the room where your infant will sleep baby proof with a cot that’s free of suffocation or strangulation hazards, meets safety standards and has a snug-fitting mattress. Don’t place any objects in the crib, including bumpers, pillows and toys. If you use a changing table, check it’s secured to the wall and never leave your baby unattended on the changing table or any other raised surface.

 

Kitchen

The kitchen is the heart of your home, and with a baby or a toddler around, you’ll most likely need to make some changes to make sure everyone is safe.

Check out these key baby proofing tips for the kitchen:

  • Fit safety catches to floor level cabinets or reachable drawers. This helps prevent your baby from reaching dangerous items like knives or blades. Experts recommend the type of safety catch that can be opened with a magnetic ‘key’. To satisfy your little one’s curiosity and allow him or her to safely explore, you might like to leave one cupboard unlatched and fill it with safe items like empty containers or perhaps some of your toddler’s favourite non-breakable bowls, plates and cups. As a part of your baby proofing strategy, add a childproof safety catch to the oven and fridge/freezer doors.

  • Put cutlery and sharp objects out of reach. Keep knives, forks, scissors, appliances with blades and any other sharp instruments out of your child's reach or locked in a child proof drawer.

  • Unplug appliances when you’re not using them. This helps prevent your child accidentally turning them on. Tuck away the electrical cords and place appliances out of reach when they are not in use.

  • Fit oven knob covers. Prevent your toddler from switching on the oven by fitting oven knob covers. Restrict access to the oven and never use it while your baby or toddler is nearby.

  • Avoid tablecloths that hang over the side of the table. One pull on the cloth and the hot dinner and plates can come crashing to the floor around (and on) your baby or toddler.

  • Turn the handles of pots and pans inwards. Even though it’s better not to cook with your baby or toddler near the oven or stove, an extra safety measure is to keep the handles of hot pots and pans turned toward the back of the cooker at all times – even when you think your child is not around. This can help prevent your child accidentally pulling a hot pot or pan onto him or herself. It’s also sensible to use the rings at the back of the cooker whenever possible.

  • Remove small fridge magnets. These can be a choking risk. Keep in mind that even large fridge magnets can be dangerous if they have a small magnet on the back that might break off or become unglued.

In Summary

When baby proofing the kitchen take steps to prevent your little one from accessing cupboards and drawers that contain sharp, dangerous or breakable items. Make sure your child can’t tamper with the cooker controls or pull hot items down onto him or herself.

 

Baby in a Highchair

Bathroom

The bathroom is a hub of activity for families with small children, especially as your baby starts to enjoy splash time in the bath more and more.

Here’s how to keep your baby or toddler safe in the bathroom:

  • Keep an eye on your child. Never leave your child unattended in the bathroom – not even for a moment. When the bath is over, empty the bath and any play buckets right away. Keep a basket with all the bath essentials near the bath – but out of reach of your child – so you won't need to leave the bathroom for supplies.

  • Use a non-slip bathmat. An essential baby proofing item for preventing slips and falls is a rubber bathmat with little suction cups to secure it in place in the bottom of the bath.

  • Set your water heater to 46 degree Celsius or lower. You baby’s skin is thinner than an adult’s, so he or she can be scalded more easily. Turning down the thermostat on your water can help prevent this. Another solution is to have a thermostatic mixing valve fitted to your bath tap. You should also test the water temperature on your wrist before placing your baby in the bath to ensure it is nice and warm – not too hot or too cold.

  • Fit tap guards. Tap guards are devices that can prevent your young child from turning on taps.

  • Install a lockable toilet lid. Get your family into the habit of keeping the toilet seat lid down and locked.

  • Keep dangerous items out of reach. Place things like medicines, cosmetics, liquids, razors and electrical appliances like the hair dryer and straighteners in a cabinet with a child proof lock or high up out of reach.

  • Keep the bathroom locked when not in use. Ideally, fit a high-up bolt or other kind of locking device to the bathroom door, and keep it locked when nobody’s inside.

Laundry Area

Whether you have a separate utility room in the house or keep your washing machine in the kitchen or bathroom, follow these tips for baby proofing your laundry area:

  • Fit a safety catch to the washing machine door. Always keep the washing machine door closed and locked. The same goes for the dryer.

  • Store laundry detergents out of your child's reach and sight. It’s safest to keep products in their original container, with the label intact, in a locked cabinet. Be especially careful about where you store liquid laundry capsules, as these can look like sweets or toys that your child might try to bite into or chew on. Put detergents away when they are not in use and wipe up any spills right away.

  • Don’t let your child play in the laundry area. Consider adding a baby gate to the utility room door or fitting it with a child proof lock. You might find it safest to do laundry and other cleaning chores during your child's downtime (such as during naps). This can help ensure that your attention is not diverted while you're using laundry and cleaning products and help avoid unintended exposure to detergents and other cleaning supplies.

Garage, Basement, and Outdoor Areas

Take a look at other areas of your house or garden, and consider these baby proofing tips:

  • Lock away dangerous items. This can include tools, paints, varnishes, thinners and any other toxic chemicals you might keep in your garage, basement or shed.

  • Don’t let your child play near the driveway or garage, and keep your child away from the garage door, especially if it’s automatic. Keep the doors to the garage, basement and outdoor areas locked with a child proof lock so that your toddler can’t go outside without you knowing.

  • Secure your garden pond or pool. If you have a pond or swimming pool it should be fenced off, securely covered or filled in. Never leave your child unattended near the water.

  • Check your greenhouse. If you have a greenhouse or similar structure like a cold frame in your garden, check that it’s made with safety glass. If it isn’t, it needs to be fenced off.

  • Remove or fence off any poisonous plants. When your child is old enough to understand, teach him or her never to pick and eat any fruit or berries outdoors without asking a grown-up first.

  • Add sand or wood chips under play areas. This can help soften the fall in case your child falls off the swing or has a rough landing from the slide.

FAQs at a Glance

  • Baby proof everything that may pose a risk to your little one. As a rule of thumb: If your baby or toddler can reach it, fall from it, bump into it or pull it down onto him or herself then look at how you can baby proof it.


    Baby proof (by locking away or placing out of reach) any items that your baby can swallow, and any cords or objects that can become a strangulation or suffocation risk.


    Baby proof rooms like the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry area, and look at how you can baby proof things like windows, stairs, and electrical cords and power outlets throughout your house or flat.


    Don’t forget about other areas like the garage, basement, garden and pool.

  • Some baby proofing kit you might need around the house includes:

    • Plug socket covers
    • Corner protectors
    • Non-slip rug underlay
    • Window restrictors and locks
    • Door stoppers
    • Safety catches for cupboard doors and drawers
    • Anti-tip straps or brackets for heavy furniture
    • Baby gates
    • Fireguards
    • Anti-slip bathmats
    • Smoke detectors
    • Glass safety film.
  • There’s lots you can do to baby proof your house. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

    • Install childproof locks on cupboards, doors, windows and drawers
    • Add baby gates at the top and bottom of stairs, and on rooms like the bathroom and kitchen
    • Cover sharp edges of furniture with corner protectors
    • Tie up electrical cables and other cords so they are completely out of reach
    • Place unsafe things completely out of reach. That means everything from cleaning detergents and small items like batteries to sharp objects like knives or blades.
  • This is how to baby proof a bookshelf:

    • Secure the bookshelf to the wall so there’s no danger of it toppling over
    • Remove any dangerous items from the lower shelves – including anything small that could be a choking hazard
    • Place any valuable books or other items you don’t want your child to play with – and possibly damage – on a higher shelf.

The Big Picture

Getting your house in shape for your newborn baby is big project, but fortunately it's one that can be done in smaller batches. As long as the nursery (or anywhere else you’ll be changing nappies and your baby will sleep) is done before your baby arrives, you can baby proof the rest of house bit by bit over the next few months so it's ready when your child starts moving independently.

Once you’re satisfied with your baby proofing efforts, you’ll love the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your baby or toddler can safely explore your home under your watchful supervision.

If you’re still (or already) preparing your home for your new arrival, you might like to check out this list of baby essentials you might need or want for your little one when he or she arrives.

How we wrote this article
The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the National Health Service (NHS). You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.