One of the most intimidating aspects of becoming a new parent can be the prospect of “baby-proofing” your home. Even friends and family can be affected, as they will want to make their homes safe for your new little one to come to visit. With expenses already piling high with doctor visits during pregnancy, setting up a nursery and buying clothes, diapers, and toys for your new infant, the prospect of investing in expensive upgrades or replacing furniture can seem overwhelming.
Fortunately, there’s no need to go overboard. There are a lot of inexpensive ways to make your house child-friendly without breaking the budget or sacrificing safety.
In particular, remember that you don’t have to do everything at once. Because your new baby will spend most of their first few months sleeping or eating, and because they will also always be under your close supervision, you can do the basics first and then keep on making adjustments as your child grows more mobile. Get started by creating a list of changes that need to be made and establishing a timeline and a plan for getting them done.
A good tip is to look at your house from your baby’s perspective. Get down on the ground and look from your baby’s eye level in order to identify any potential danger areas.
Here are seven important areas of concern:
1. Electrical Outlets
A first priority should be installing safety plugs in any electrical outlets, especially those below knee level. This is one area where a very minimal investment can make a huge difference in overall safety. It is also advisable to put electrical cords out of reach wherever possible. Conceal them in cabinets or behind barriers and use plastic ties to arrange them neatly so that they don’t extend loose for long distances.
Another important step is securing furniture to walls so that there is no danger of it falling over or being pulled over by curious toddlers. In particular, prioritize bookshelves and dressers, or any other tall, heavy item. You can find appropriate supplies at any hardware store or buy ready-made kits designed for this purpose.
3. Objects on Furniture
Along similar lines, straighten up bookshelves, desks, and cabinets, particularly the areas that seem easiest for a child to reach, so that there won’t be piles of objects or books that a baby could cause to topple over onto him or herself. Use latches wherever possible to ensure that drawers and cabinets can’t be opened unexpectedly.
You will also want to secure the stairs so your baby or toddler doesn’t try to get up and down them before they are ready. Baby gates can be particularly expensive so this might be a good item to get used; just test them to make sure they work properly. Another option is to get hand-me-downs from friends or family with children who are old enough not to need them anymore.
You don’t want long curtains or window-coverings hanging down where the baby can reach them – there are a couple of options for dealing with that. You can either replace them entirely, or just tie them back out of the baby’s reach. Similarly, make sure that any long cords are up high enough so that the baby can’t get to them.
6. Loose Objects
Something else to think about is making sure your home is safe for when you walk around carrying your baby. Never leave objects around that you could trip over, especially on the stairs, and make sure that rugs are straight and even to ensure that you don’t slip and fall because of a loose mat or carpet.
Finally, don’t forget about the bathroom. Turn down the water temperature to avoid overly hot water when you give your baby or toddler a bath. Also, it’s a good idea to buy special latches to prevent any accidents because of an open toilet lid, especially as your baby grows and becomes more mobile.