Welcoming a little one into your home means seeing it with a fresh perspective. For crawling babies and curious toddlers, common decor and storage—like a cabinet full of cleansers under the bathroom sink, a tall bureau, or fragile nicknacks—can present potential danger.
“Accidents happen every day,” says Elizabeth Malson, president of the US Nanny Institute. In fact, for children aged one to four, accidents are the leading cause of death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“You can’t protect yourself from everything. But there’s a lot parents can do, so that’s what we should focus on,” Malson says. Babyproofing and childproofing are an important way to reduce some of the risks at home.
“Childproofing works and helps prevent injuries,” says Wendy J. Pomerantz, MD, MS, professor of pediatrics at the University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, and a principal investigator for Injury Free Coalition for Kids in Cincinnati.
During this process, you’ll thoroughly inspect your home, locate potential problem areas, and make safety-focused modifications.
How to Get Started Babyproofing
To make childproofing less overwhelming, most experts recommend attacking one room at a time. “I do room by room because it allows you to focus on a smaller area,” Malson says.
If you can, begin the process early.
“It takes a lot longer than you think. Even a little at a time while you’re pregnant [or awaiting arrival] is great,” says Gina Posner, MD, a board-certified pediatrician at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California. Some babies are early crawlers, Dr. Posner points out, so you’ll want to complete the project before your baby is on the move (which is typically between six and 10 months old).
Anyone who will regularly have a little one in their home should also childproof their space—including friends, grandparents, and other relatives, Malson says.