How to Baby-Proof Your Home for Those First 12 Months

Baby-proofing your home is one of the most important things you can do for your newborn. Here are some tips to get you started.

The Straight Story on Hand-Me-Downs

Family hand-me-downs, thrift shops and yard sales are a great resource for new parents, but many older items (even beloved family heirlooms) fail to meet safety standards and can put your child at risk of injury or death.

Buyer Beware!
Before you buy or accept any used item, make sure you review the Top 10 List of Recalled Children's Products Products Most Commonly Found in Resale Stores from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Newborns and Infants (under three months)

Before you introduce your newborn to his new home, remove or fix possible household hazards. Start with the basic precautions and continually modify according to your baby's development. Here's what to do from day one:

  • Use a crib made since 1992 that meets safety standards set by the American Society for Testing and Material (ASTM).
  • Be sure the crib mattress fits snugly. You should be able to slide just one finger between the mattress and the side rails and headboard, so your child can't slip between the mattress and crib.
  • Do not use a crib that has elevated corner posts or decorative cutouts in the headboard since a baby's head could become trapped there, or loose clothing could become snagged and cause strangulation.
  • The slats on the crib should be 2 3/8 inches apart or less so baby's head doesn't get trapped between them.
  • Make sure all screws, bolts, and other hardware are securely installed to prevent the crib from collapsing.
  • Never put pillows, soft bedding, electric blankets, heating pads, or stuffed animals in a crib.
  • If you use a playpen with mesh sides, the mesh "holes" should be less than 3/4 inch across (playpens made since 1974 meet this requirement) and free from tears or small holes to prevent an infant from becoming trapped. For the same reason, wooden playpens should have slats that are less than 2 3/8 inches apart.
  • Install and use a safety belt on your infant's changing table.
  • Always use a safety belt when your baby is sitting in a bouncy seat or swing.
  • Place a rug under the changing table and crib, which will offer some cushion in case of a fall.
  • Nightlights should be at least three feet away from the crib, bedding, and draperies to prevent fire.
  • Set your water heater to 120 degrees F or below.

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