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I was about 4 weeks from my due date when I stepped out our back door and noticed that the bricks supporting the step were loose. As time was flying by, I knew that in the blink of an eye, our baby would be born and then crawling and mobile before we knew it, and that the step needed to be fixed before that time came.

Safety hazards like these are usually easy to spot. When you have small children, however, there are some less-obvious things to evaluate in the home to ensure a safe environment and minimize the risk of an accident.Young baby on rug

Thankfully, there are handy checklists available from trusted sources like WebMD and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. There are also entire sections on ‘baby proofing’ in baby stores that will equip you with supplies for creating a safer home.

Beyond implementing the standard recommendations, it is important for parents to take a common-sense approach based on what could potentially be hazardous in their home. Do you have a loose step that could cause a fall, or a window with a broken closing device that could slam on a tiny finger? Be sure to fix those sooner than later. Are there small items, trinkets or pet toys that could present a choking or ingestion hazard? Put those away in a secure place that a child cannot access (do this for anything that is small enough to fit in a toilet paper roll). Do your window blinds have long pull ropes that could cause strangulation? Is there a staircase that does not have a door or other barrier?

Use the checklists to begin, but don’t forget to also do a thorough walk around your home and consider the things that may not be listed. Remember to keep an eye out for poisonous substances that a child could access. Finally, get down on the ground level – where your baby will spend lots of time – and see what might need to be picked up, moved, or placed out of reach.

It may seem odd to baby proof before your baby is even mobile, but many babies progress quickly through milestones, and can go from just rolling over to crawling in a short time. Don’t let it become too late to start making a safer home!

Speaking of baby safety, be sure to read our blog post about safe sleep for infants. Safe sleep environments are critical for a baby-safe home.

Writer: Joanna Fifner Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Medina County.
Reviewer: Amanda Bohlen, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County.
Sources
American Association of Poison Control Centers (2018) Emergency. Information.Prevention. http://www.aapcc.org/
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (2013) Poison Control Home Safety Checklist http://www.chop.edu/health-resources/poison-control-home-safety-checklist
WebMD (2016) Slideshow:Baby Proofing Essentials https://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/ss/slideshow-baby-proofing-essentials
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