A Guide to Childproofing Your Home
Keeping your home safe for your children extends way past baby-proofing. Learn how to childproof your home for every stage with this helpful guide.
Whether our kids are crawling, toddling or even driving, it’s our job to keep them safe from the hidden dangers lurking at home.
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy
“Research shows that children are more likely to be injured at home than anywhere else. Part of that may be because kids spend a lot of time at home compared to other places,” says pediatrician Kimberly Giuliano, MD.
“It’s also because children typically have less direct supervision at home. At school, the teachers are always watching. And the coach is there during your child’s game or practice. At home, there’s more likely to be some alone time,” she adds.
Wondering what you can do to keep your child safe at home at any age? Here’s how to take your home from a hazard to a safe haven.
Babyproofing becomes relevant when your child starts getting mobile — and Dr. Giuliano says rolling counts. Here are nine tasks to put on your childproofing list:
Outlet covers are pieces of plastic that you plug into electrical outlets. They prevent children from playing with electrical sockets and reduce their risk for electrocution.
“Keeping chemicals both out of reach and locked away is best,” says Dr. Giuliano. “Child cabinet locks are not foolproof. A savvy toddler may be able to break them. Storing chemicals out of reach prevents an accidental exposure if somebody forgets to relock the cabinet.”
Lock all cabinets and drawers that a toddler or young child could reach. Cabinet and drawer locks prevent small children from accessing dangerous chemicals and implements, including:
Child safety lock prices generally range from $3 to $20. Some options include:
You can find these locks and other styles at any store with a baby section. Hardware and home improvement stores sell them as well, or you can order them online.
Giuliano says blind cords pose a significant strangulation risk. “When they dangle, they can be enticing to a child — and they often dangle right at their hand and eye level.” To childproof your window treatments, choose blinds that:
Don’t throw away those L-shaped brackets that come with disassembled furniture. If you have a little explorer on the loose (or plan to have one), you should anchor tall and narrow furniture pieces to the wall.
“Children, if they’re reaching up high, can pull furniture down on themselves. We see serious injuries and even fatalities from that,” warns Dr. Giuliano. “Even if children can’t reach the highest part of the furniture, they can climb up by stepping on something next to it or pulling out lower drawers and stepping on those.”
While most child-unfriendly chests are no longer sold in furniture stores, you can still unwittingly buy one secondhand. “They can cause small injuries, such as pinched fingers or arms. They can also lead to more significant injuries like a fracture,” says Dr. Giuliano. “But the biggest concern is a child climbing inside the chest. The lid could close on top of them and cause suffocation.”
Windows are a fall risk, especially if your child can stick their entire head out of them. “Screens may keep bugs out, but they won’t keep children in. They’re too flimsy for a child who’s using a bit of force,” notes Dr. Giuliano. “If the windows are lower, make sure they are locked and secured. And be careful of windows that raise up. They could slide and injure a child standing underneath them.”
To childproof your windows:
Some window locking options include:
Window locking devices are available at stores with a baby section or home improvement and hardware stores. You can also purchase them online.
If you live near water, such as a swimming pool, lake or creek, it’s important to prevent your small child from accessing that water without you.
“Have a barrier between the rear exit of the home and the body of water. If you have a pool, get a fence that goes around the entire perimeter,” says Dr. Giuliano.
“And think about buckets, too,” she says. “Even if there is less than a foot of water or cleaning chemicals in a bucket, children, especially toddlers, can drown in it. They’re very curious and can peer over the edge and tip over. If they’re caught with their head down and feet up, a tragedy can happen within minutes.”
“Don’t just think about narcotics and abusable types of medication. Keep a close eye on everyday medicines, too. Even over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen can be harmful,” notes Dr. Giuliano. “Keep only small amounts accessible to the whole family. Store them in a safe, locked-in area, even if children are older.”
“It’s also common for people to keep medications inside purses. So whether it’s your purse or a visitor’s, keep it out of reach of young children.”
Childproofing doesn’t end just because your kids are finally out of the put-everything-in-my-mouth stage. Dr. Giuliano recommends maintaining vigilance in these three areas:
And just when you thought you were out of the woods, Dr. Giuliano says the teen years require different safety measures. “Teenagers sometimes engage in risk-taking behaviors or want to experiment with substances. Or potentially even more tragic, a teenager may be experiencing depression and suicidal thoughts. Make sure they don’t have access to potentially harmful substances.”
Be mindful about where you store:
We can’t keep our kids covered in bubble wrap, safe from all harm. But by combining a little planning, some child locks and a lot of common sense, we can prevent a whole lot of injuries and accidents.