Pregnancy Information Center

Information, Symptoms, Treatments and Resources


7 Babyproofing Steps You’ll Be Glad You Took Now


Give your baby a safe start with these simple tasks you can do while pregnant

By Jenilee Matz, MPH

You may think it’s too early to babyproof, but pregnancy is actually the ideal time to start. The newborn period is exhausting, and safeguarding your home takes effort. “You have the time to do research now, and you can even put items on your registry,” suggests Debra Holtzman, JD, MA, a national child safety expert and author of The Safe Baby. While there are many phases to babyproofing, and you’ll add safety checks as your child grows, these seven tasks will take you through until baby’s crawling. 


1. Cover Electrical Outlets 

Electrical sockets are inviting to little fingers and shock can be deadly. Simple plastic plug inserts are affordable and easy to install. But you have to keep them in for them to work. If you remove one to vacuum, for instance, replace it as soon as you’re done. Otherwise the outlet is no longer babyproofed and the plug insert, a choking hazard, could be left lying around.

Sound like too much to remember during those sleep-deprived first months? Consider swapping your existing electrical outlets for tamper-resistant ones. These outlets have spring-loaded covers that can be pushed away by adult hands when plugging in an appliance. The springs bounce the covers back in place as soon as a plug is removed. If your home was built after 2008, you should already have these on your outlets, as required by the National Electrical Code®


2. Store Hazards Out of Baby’s Reach

Make sure all medications, cleaning products, and other poisons and hazards are kept up high, where your baby could never reach them, or are locked in cabinets or cupboards secured with a safety latch. Other common dangers that may not come to mind as quickly: toothpaste, mouthwash, hand sanitizer and dishwasher detergent should be completely out of reach, along with plastic wrap, garbage bags, balloons and ribbon. Don't forget that the category of dangerous sharp objects — besides the obvious, knives — includes such common household items as scissors and razors.  

These threats tend to be located in the kitchen, bathrooms, laundry room and garage. Keep doors to these rooms closed at all times. Think like a young explorer when it comes to seeking out hazards. “Get down on your hands and knees to view your home from your child’s perspective,” suggests Lisa Abdinoor with Safety 1st, a company that makes babyproofing products and has researched home hazards for children. “Seeing the world from their view opens your eyes to potential dangers.”


3. Make Sure Your Smoke Detectors Work

Place at least one smoke detector on each level of your home, in each bedroom, and in the hallways outside of bedrooms. Change the batteries at least once a year. “An easy way to remember is to do it in the spring or fall when you change the clocks,” Holtzman suggests. You should also have an escape plan in case of a fire.


4. Secure Items That Could Tip Over

A child dies every 2 weeks because something tipped over and crushed them under its weight, Holtzman warns. Large, heavy items, such as bookcases, dressers and flat-screen TVs, should be secured to the wall with anchors, braces, brackets or wall straps. If your furniture didn’t come with these safety mounts, you can buy them at your local hardware store. As they learn to walk, babies are likely to pull themselves up on anything accessible and, unfortunately, “even the smallest amount of weight can cause items to tip over,” says Holtzman.


5. Check That Your Child’s Car Seat Is Installed Correctly

You know the hospital won’t let you take your baby home without a car seat. But the nurse who wheels you out won’t check that your seat is correctly installed — despite research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showing that 7 in 10 children aren’t properly secured in their family car. Many local fire departments and police stations offer free car seat checks by certified technicians. Visit to find out where you can have one done in your area.


6. Take an Infant CPR and First-Aid Class

“All parents, grandparents and anyone who will be taking care of your child should take an infant and child cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first-aid class,” Holtzman says. These skills are your first line of defense if an accident does happen. She suggests that your group take this class together, or at least through the same provider, so everyone learns the same skills.


7. Get Your Flu Shot and Whooping Cough Vaccination

Newborns are too young to get vaccinated for these conditions, but parents can protect their kids by getting the vaccines themselves. The flu shot is safe throughout pregnancy. The whooping cough vaccination or tDap is recommended between weeks 27 and 36. Whooping cough has been on the rise in the last decade in the US. And both of these illnesses can, in rare cases, be fatal to babies; all caregivers should get immunized. Call your doctor or go to your neighborhood pharmacy and ask for these vaccines.

Published on December 30, 2015.

Jenilee Matz is a freelance medical writer living in the suburbs of Charlotte, NC. She earned her master’s degree in public health from the University of South Carolina, and previously worked for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Reviewed by Shira Goldenholz, MD, MPH on November 19, 2015.
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