Child Safety Basics for Your Home

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It's an all-too-familiar scenario: you turn around for just a moment, and your child makes a beeline for an exposed electrical outlet or practices their daredevil skills on the stairs. It happens!

No matter how vigilant you are when it comes to your child's safety, accidents are inevitable. The good news? Many can be prevented, and the more you know about childproofing your home, the safer your little one will be (and your anxiety level will drop, too).

Since accidents are the leading cause of death for children, we've put together a comprehensive checklist to keep your home and car as safe as possible. From the proper use of a car seat to putting baby gates on stairs, we have all the tips you need to keep your child safe while giving you some much-needed peace of mind.

Baby Proofing

Although some people consider baby proofing and childproofing to be the same thing, you can think of baby proofing as all of the safety measures you can take before you bring home your new baby.

These include:

  • Choosing a safe crib that is put together correctly and that hasn't been involved in a crib recall
  • Installing smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Learning CPR
  • Learning the number to poison control (1-800-222-1222) and posting it by the phone in case of an emergency
  • Learning to use baby products correctly and according to age-appropriate recommendations
  • Making sure that used or hand-me-down equipment hasn't been recalled for safety reasons
  • Making your home smoke-free, so that your baby isn't exposed to secondhand smoke
  • Reviewing your home's risk for causing lead poisoning, especially if it was built before 1978
  • Setting the temperature of your hot water heater to 120 degrees to prevent scalding burns


If baby proofing involves all of the safety measures that you take before you bring home your baby, then childproofing includes all that you do before your baby becomes mobile.

It's never too early to get started with these practices; be sure you're done by the time your infant is five or six months old. That way, you can be sure your baby is safe before they start crawling and walking.

Childproofing measures include:

  • Anchoring furniture and other heavy items so that children can't tip them over
  • Checking the floor regularly for choking hazards (marbles, balls, uninflated or broken balloons, small magnets, small toy pieces)
  • Creating a family home fire escape plan
  • Cutting window blind cords or using safety tassels and inner cord stops to help prevent your child from strangling in window blind cord loops
  • Installing a stove guard in front of the stove to keep your child's hands off the burners
  • Installing baby gates at the top and bottom of all stairs in the house
  • Installing covers on electrical outlets
  • Installing window gates, hearth gates, and other gates in rooms that you don't want your child to have easy access to
  • Keeping all household poisons out of your child's reach and in a childproofed cabinet
  • Placing latches and locks on cabinets and drawers
  • Putting doorknob covers on doors that you don't want your child to open, including bathroom doors, doors to rooms that aren't childproofed, and exterior doors
  • Securing appliances, including the refrigerator, dishwasher, and oven, with an appliance locking strap
  • Storing guns properly, which should include storing unloaded guns in a locked cabinet or drawer with bullets locked separately

If You Have a Pool

Home swimming pools must be enclosed by a permanent fence (which is better than a removable pool fence) with a self-closing and self-latching gate that is difficult for younger children to open.

Also, make sure that your child can't easily get out of your house to the pool area. That way, you have layers of protection; if one safety layer breaks down, such as someone leaves the gate to the pool open, your child still can't get out to the pool.

Car Seats

Besides a smoke detector for your home, a car seat is one of the most important child safety baby products you can buy. Learn how to choose the right car seat for your child and whether you need an infant carrier, regular car seat, or a booster seat.

Make sure the seat you buy is properly installed and that your baby is safely buckled in every single time they are in the car. If you live in a cold climate, be aware of the safety guidelines for winter coats and car seats.

Hidden Dangers

Since accidents are the leading cause of death for children, it is not surprising that pediatricians often focus so much on educating parents about childproofing, the proper use of car seats, and encouraging kids to use helmets.

Many parents are unaware, however, of less common dangers that don't get as much publicity as drownings, car accidents, or house fires.

Learning about these other hazards can help you take simple steps to keep your kids safe:

Safety Q&A

Have questions about your child's safety? Don't hesitate to ask your pediatrician.

Some common questions that parents have about child safety include:

6 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Health Statistics: Child Health.

  2. American Academy of Pediatrics. Home safety: Tips for families with young children.

  3. Roberts KJ, McAdams RJ, Kristel OV, Szymanski AM, McKenzie LB. Qualitative and quantitative evaluation of the Make Safe Happen app: Mobile technology–based safety behavior change intervention for parentsJMIR Pediatr Parent. 2019;2(1):e12022. doi:10.2196/12022

  4. Ablewhite J, McDaid L, Hawkins A, et al. Approaches used by parents to keep their children safe at home: a qualitative study to explore the perspectives of parents with children aged under five yearsBMC Public Health. 2015;15:983. doi:10.1186/s12889-015-2252-x

  5. American Academy of Pediatrics. Preventing furniture and TV tip-overs.

  6. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Car seats and booster seats.

By Vincent Iannelli, MD
Vincent Iannelli, MD, is a board-certified pediatrician and fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Iannelli has cared for children for more than 20 years.