New Mom’s Guide to Childproofing Your Baby’s Bedroom

Bringing a new baby home for the first time is an exciting moment in any woman’s life. In the weeks leading up to the grand arrival, however, the sheer volume of baby-preparation items on your to-do list can be staggering. One of the most important things on that list is making sure that your baby’s room is properly childproofed so that it’s truly the soothing sanctuary a nursery is intended to be.

Get Started Early

Before your baby is born, or when she’s still a very small infant, baby-proofing can seem like a task that’s easily put off. After all, it’s not like a newborn is particularly mobile, right? Actually, knocking out your childproofing chores before the baby arrives or when she’s still very small is a good idea. Babies reach milestones more quickly than you realize and time will be at a premium from the moment you bring your new baby home. Making sure that her room is safe, even when she’s too young to properly explore it, is a smart move.

Skip the Cutesy Bedding

Choosing the bedding and décor scheme for your new baby’s nursery is one of the high points when it comes to preparing for your bundle of joy’s arrival. Thick blankets, fluffy pillows and plush toys, however, are actually discouraged strongly by the American Academy of Pediatrics, and entire cities have banned crib bumpers due to their link to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. If you just can’t resist creating a nursery worthy of a magazine layout, remember to remove everything from the crib before putting your new baby down for a nap.

Keep Window Treatments Safe

Making sure that the sun isn’t shining on your baby’s small, delicate face while he’s trying to sleep is an admirable effort, but you’ll also want to make sure that his crib is situated far enough from windows that he can’t access it, and that the cords on the window treatments are properly secured. Dangling cords and tie-backs can present a strangulation risk when your baby gets older, so this is one baby-proofing step you certainly don’t want to miss.

Double-Check Used Baby Gear

Baby items are expensive, and a fully-stocked nursery requires a lot of them. There’s nothing wrong with saving money by opting for second-hand gear or with preserving a sense of tradition by using heirloom items. What you will want to do, however, is ensure that all of those items meet modern safety guidelines and that any paint on them isn’t lead-based.

Choose Low-VOC Paint

The wall color of any room sets the tone for the entire space, so it’s natural that you’ll want to start painting the nursery as soon as possible. Making sure that your baby won’t be exposed to potentially hazardous chemicals needs to be a priority, though. Choosing paints that are low in volatile organic compounds is advised, as the chemicals found in traditional paint have been linked to everything from asthma to certain types of cancer.

Cover Electrical Outlets

Electrical outlets are fascinating to little ones, and they’re incredibly dangerous. Making sure that all the outlets, especially those that are within Baby’s reach, are outfitted with childproofing covers is the most effective method of ensuring that she doesn’t hurt herself.

Avoid Furniture with Sharp Edges

There’s a reason why the lines on most nursery furniture are rounded. When your baby starts crawling and eventually learning to walk, he’ll encounter his share of falls along the way. Colliding with a hard, rounded surface is still likely to be painful, but not as harmful as landing on a sharp corner that can cut into delicate skin.

Keep Cords Out of Reach

If you’ll be plugging lamps and other electrical items into the wall outlets, be sure that all of the cords are properly secured. It’s easy for a baby to pull these things down onto himself when he’s looking for leverage to stand or simply curious about what will happen when a cord gets a sharp tug. Placing cords behind furniture so that Baby’s inquisitive fingers aren’t able to access them and securing loose ones so that they’re not dangling attractively is wise.

Install Window Guards

The last thing you want is for a fire escape route out of your baby’s room to be blocked, but you also don’t want him to take a tumble out of an open window. Even a fall from a first-floor window can be dangerous for such a small person, so consider the installation of window guards on any window that isn’t part of your fire escape plan.

Kitchen Safety Tips for Nannies

Few areas in the home are as full of sharp objects, heat sources, slippery floors, and dangerous chemicals as the kitchen. Even kitchens that have childproofing measures installed can be very dangerous, and nannies should take special care to supervise their charges while in the kitchen and reduce the risk of injury to her charges or herself by taking the proper precautions.

  • Keep Surfaces and Utensils Clean – Food-borne illnesses like salmonella and E. coli can be very serious, especially for young children. To prevent transmitting these diseases to your charges or yourself, be sure that you adhere to safe food handling practices and keep all of your surfaces and utensils clean. Uncooked meats and eggs are especially notorious for causing food-borne illness, so handle them with additional care.
  • Enforce Hand Washing Rules – It’s just as important to be sure that everyone washes their hands as it is keep surfaces and utensils clean; even small children that won’t be handling food should be instructed to wash their hands thoroughly, both as a preventative measure in case they do touch food items and to help them learn good kitchen hygiene early.
  • Turn Handles to the Back of the Stove – The handles of pots and pans should always be turned to the back of the stove to prevent them from being pulled from the scorching surface by small hands or from being accidentally spilled on your own part. Burns can be very serious, especially on the delicate skin of small children, so never leave handles turned in such a way that they can be grabbed by kids or jostled by your own arms and hands.
  • Supervise Kids Closely – Children love to help out in the kitchen, and they shouldn’t be left to bask in the glow of the television while you prepare meals. Instead of exiling children to the living room and leaving them to their own devices, invite them into the kitchen but be sure to supervise them very carefully.
  • Explain Tools and Their Purposes – Tools, implements, and utensils that kids aren’t allowed to examine take on a mysterious allure, so be sure to carefully explain what each item is, what it’s used for, and how it can be dangerous.
  • Get Kids Involved – When children are engaged in safe kitchen activities they’re less likely to be drawn to unsafe ones while you’re otherwise occupied. Let your charges complete small, safe food prep tasks as you cook; in addition to keeping them safely entertained, it also gives them a sense of accomplishment and teaches new skills.
  • Avoid Scalds – The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents turn water heater temperatures to 120° or less to avoid accidental scalds, which are the most common type of burn seen in small children that visit emergency rooms. However, some parents may have missed the memo; to be safe, assume that your employers have not adjusted their water heaters and teach kids to be very, very careful with the sink.
  • Outlaw Running and Horseplay – Let it be known before you enter the kitchen together for the first time that horseplay, running, or roughhousing of any kind is strictly forbidden, and take a no-tolerance stance on the issue. There are too many potential hazards in the kitchen for kids to treat it like a playground.
  • Keep Small Appliances Clear of the Sink – Small appliances that can easily drop into a sink full of water should be handled carefully, and unplugged immediately after use to prevent electrocution.
  • No Climbing! – Kids are usually taught not to climb onto shelves or counters in order to reach items placed on high surfaces, so it’s important for you to model the same behavior. If climbing is unavoidable, be sure to use a designated step stool and do so safely, rather than clambering onto a kitchen chair or the countertop.
  • Keep Kids Clear of the Oven – Curiosity is a major motivator for kids, especially if there are tasty treats in the oven. Watching cookies go from gooey batter to delicious snacks is fascinating for little ones, who may want to peek into the oven from time to time. Be sure that they know not to ever open the oven themselves, and to stand well clear of the searing heat when you open it for them.

All of the safety precautions in the world can’t take the place of strict supervision, so do your best to maintain a close watch on your charges as they spend time with you in the kitchen. Also, ensure that there is a small fire extinguisher on hand before preparing a meal in your employers’ home, just to be on the safe side.