The first few months of parenthood are nothing short of stressful. Between the sleepless nights and hands-on everything, there’s little time to do anything else.
You eagerly await the little milestones.
But then … they happen.
Suddenly, that cooing six-month-old baby has a mischievous side. All it takes is a second for her to find a bottle of Lysol or stick a finger in the electrical outlet.
It’s every parent’s worst nightmare!
Part of the new parent’s learning curve is viewing the world from a child’s perspective. So, it’s time for a safety check!
Here are ten tips for baby proofing your apartment:
1. Install Locks Everywhere
Yanking handles, lifting lids, and twisting knobs are all hallmarks of a curious child.
Yet, this desire to explore can also lead a child to a handful of household hazards:
- A cabinet full of cleaning supplies and poisons
- A wide-open toilet (all it takes is 1” of water for a child to drown)
- A drawer full of sharp knives
- The top of the basement stairs
- A garbage can full of choking hazards.
The first item on your baby-proofing checklist:
Installing locks and latches.
Start in the kitchen and bathrooms with cabinet and drawer locks. Many new parents prefer internal locks because they automatically reset and are well-hidden.
But don’t stop there!
Lockable garbage bins, baby locks on doorknobs, and toilet lid locks will all help to keep your baby safe when the urge to explore hits.
2. Add Padding to Sharp Furniture Edges
Before you know it, your little one will be on the move. That once eight-pound bundle of joy will soon be pulling herself up on furniture and taking her first steps.
There’s no telling how far she’ll travel!
But if there’s one thing we know about nine-month-olds, it’s that they’re far from steady on their feet.
All it takes is one unexpected stumble to land head-first into the coffee table.
So, item #2 on your checklist:
Adding rubber (or foam) bumpers to the corners of sharp furniture.
Corner guards will protect from bumps, bruises, gashes, or eye injuries on the next tumble.
3. Block Off the Stairs With Gates
Curious toddlers have a knack for climbing.
But eventually, tables and chairs lose their appeal. The stairs soon become your toddler’s version of Mount Everest, and she can’t wait to tackle this feat on her own.
Babies and toddlers should never have unsupervised access to stairs.
So, our third tip is perhaps the most obvious:
Blocking off the tops and bottoms of staircases with well-secured gates.
Make sure your baby gates are:
- Drilled into the wall, not the banister
- Pull open instead of pushing open
- Meet the floor to avoid tripping hazards
- Have vertical bars to make climbing over more challenging
- Not pet gates, but baby gates
4. Invest In Non-Slip Rugs
There’s no worse combination than toddlers, socks, and hardwood floors. It won’t be long before those all-out sprints turn into the toddler version of indoor road rash.
Our next tip is all about keeping baby on his feet:
Investing in non-slip rugs!
A soft, non-slip rug can prevent accidental slips while also providing a soft landing pad on your toddler’s next tumble.
Think about putting non-slip mats:
- In the living room play area
- In the bathroom
- In the bathtub
- In the kitchen
- On the stairs
5. Cover Outlets & Hide Electrical Cords
Electrical outlets are responsible for more than 24,000 ER visits by children each year. Often, a lodged item like a hairpin or key is to blame.
But household electrical dangers don’t start and end with outlets.
A child’s desire to tug and chew on everything in sight — including electrical cords — is very risky. It can lead to severe electric shock, falling devices, and choking.
So, our fifth tip is one that’s often overlooked:
Hiding electrical cords and covering all accessible outlets.
The first step is to note where you have electrical outlets and then block them off with furniture or plug them with plastic covers.
Plastic cord covers can also make electrical wires entirely inaccessible for curious kids. Plus, they lend a helping hand when it comes to keeping your cords organized!
6. Keep Dangers Out of Reach
No matter how many toys you buy your toddler, she’ll always be on the hunt for something new and exciting.
So, our sixth piece of advice is about ruining your baby’s mission to find new toys:
Keeping dangers securely out of reach.
The following household items should always be out of reach and stored in a locked drawer or cabinet:
- Poisons, chemicals, and cleaners
- Power tools
- Medication (over the counter and prescription)
- Pest traps
- Knives and scissors
7. Secure Furniture to the Walls or Floor
When it’s too rainy for a trip to the playground, children get creative. Suddenly, your toddler’s heavy bureau becomes a makeshift ladder — albeit a highly tippable one.
This brings us to our seventh baby proofing tip:
Securing large furniture to the walls or floor.
The best place to start is by investing in a set of wall anchors for every bookshelf, drawer set, and table in your apartment.
Be sure to tighten the straps snugly so that, even if your toddler can climb on top, the fixture doesn’t sway enough to tip the TV or piggy bank onto your child.
8. Adjust the Crib Rail Height
Cribs are the safest sleeping arrangements for the first few years of a child’s life. Yet, at a certain point, they can also pose a serious falling hazard.
So, eighth on our list is about keeping the crib safe:
Adjusting the rail height as your child gets older.
A high crib railing will give you a little peace of mind for those first few months. But as soon as your toddler can stand on his own, it’s time to drop the crib railing.
When your baby figures out how to climb out of the crib on his own, you’d rather his distance to the floor be as short as possible!
9. Clean Up Small Objects
Nothing grabs a baby’s attention quite like a tiny action figure or loose coin. The problem is that children are notorious for putting small items in their mouths.
One second is all it takes for a small item to become lodged in your baby’s windpipe.
So, that brings us to our ninth tip:
Cleaning up small objects.
The trick here is finding an empty toilet paper tube and using it as a measuring device. If a toy or item can slip through the tube, it can also be a choking hazard.
Inspect your child’s toys regularly and check for broken, swallowable pieces.
10. Reduce Climbable Opportunities
It’s challenging to curb a baby’s desire to climb. But when those vertical adventures lead to a four-foot-tall table or a stairway railing, it’s time to intervene.
Here’s our final tip for baby proofing your apartment:
The goal here is to keep your child low to the ground and from falling.
To do that:
- Keep furniture away from windows, stairs, and ledges
- Separate furniture of different heights (e.g., A low table next to a bookshelf)
- Hide any items your child can use as a stepping stool
- Avoid putting toys and items of interest on a high surface
Baby proofing your apartment is about expecting the unexpected.
Walk around your unit, look at each item (large and small), and ask yourself:
- Is it very hot/cold?
- Can it fall or tip over?
- Is there a risk of choking, poisoning, or electric shock?
- Can it cause injury if a child falls from it or into it?
- Is it sharp?
If you answer “yes,” figure out a solution. Either remove the item entirely, create a makeshift blockade, or relocate it to another room in your apartment.
Remember: There’s no such thing as being too safe.
Caitlin Sinclair is the Business Manager at Riata Apartments. With over 5 years of property management experience, she begins and ends each day loving what she does. She finds joy in helping current and future residents and makes Riata a place everyone loves to call home.