A house that's safe for adults may hold hidden hazards for infants. If a new baby is part of your life, take steps to make sure your home is safe.
These tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics, Safe Kids Worldwide and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission can help.
Look for hazards
- Check the crib. Slats should be less than 2 3/8 inches apart. Corner posts should be flush with the end panels or very, very tall (like posts on a canopy bed). And there should be no space between the mattress and the crib sides. Be wary of used cribs, especially those made before new safety standards were put in place in 2011. It's best not to buy a used crib or use one made before 2012.
- Keep toys, pillows and soft bedding out of the crib when a child is sleeping there. And always put babies to sleep on their backs.
- Buy toys that are safe for the child's age. Watch for small toys or parts that kids could choke on. Also keep the floor clear of buttons, coins, magnets and other small objects that could cause harm.
- Look at rooms from a baby's point of view. Get down on hands and knees and look for hazards a baby could reach.
- Lock up cleaners, medicines and vitamins. Keep poisonous plants out of reach.
- Never leave an infant alone near water, including tubs, sinks, toilets or buckets. Empty out tubs, sinks and containers right after using them.
Prepare your home
- Set the water heater to 120 degrees or cooler. Test the temperature before placing a child in the bath by moving a hand back and forth through the water to check for hot spots.
- Install and maintain smoke and carbon monoxide detectors throughout the home.
- If the home was built before 1978, have it tested for lead paint. Lead paint should be professionally removed or covered with a sealant to prevent lead poisoning.
- Place safety guards on windows. Keep furniture and cribs away from windows. Be aware of strangulation risks from drapery and blind cords—consider using cordless window coverings.
- Always put kids in car seats when they're in the car. Use a rear-facing seat, placed in the back seat, until kids reach the height and weight limit of the particular seat being used. Visit the Safe Kids Worldwide website at safekids.org for more information on car seats throughout childhood.
- Don't leave a baby unattended on beds, changing tables or other furniture.
- Don't carry hot foods or liquids near a baby.
- Don't feed any small, round or hard foods to kids younger than 4 years old. So skip things like hot dogs, grapes and popcorn.
- Consider taking an infant CPR course.