Handyman wearing a tool belt

I have a 13-month-old son and am moving into a new home. What steps do I need to take to baby-proof my home?

Handyman Toolbelt

Once a baby is walking, making your home safe for the child is almost a daily chore. Here are some important things to watch for:

  • Keep coins, small toys, nail scissors, and balloons - any item that is small enough to fit inside a cardboard toilet paper roll - out of the infant's reach.
  • Remove mobiles and other hanging toys from the crib as soon as your child can reach up and touch them.
  • Shorten drapery and blind cords.
  • Remove the plastic end caps on doorstops, or replace the stops with a one-piece design.
  • Drill breathing holes into any trunk you are using as a toy box, in case a child gets trapped inside.
  • Lock any potentially dangerous substance in an upper-level cabinet. This includes alcoholic beverages, household cleaning formulas, laundry supplies, medications (including nonprescription varieties such as vitamins or children's Tylenol or Advil), paint, kerosene, gasoline, charcoal, lighter fluid, bug spray, pesticides, and fertilizers.
  • Place houseplants out of children's reach. Know the names of all plants in case a child eats one of them.
  • Cover every electrical outlet in your home with a child-resistant outlet cover (the plastic plugs are easy to pry out).
  • Install ground fault circuit interrupters on outlets near sinks and bathtubs. They stop the electrical current when an appliance gets wet.
  • Install a toilet seat latch to keep the baby out of the potty.
  • Install hardware-mounted safety gates at the top and bottom of stairways with two or more steps. Pressure-mounted models may not be strong enough.
  • Pad the edges of coffee tables and brick or tile fireplaces.
  • Remove the crib bumper pad as soon as your infant can get up on all fours because the baby may use it as a step to climb out.
  • Position audio/video equipment so children cannot pull televisions or stereos off furniture.
  • Keep appliance cords wrapped short so children cannot pull down coffeemakers, toasters, and other appliances.
  • Secure bookshelves, entertainment centers, and bureaus to walls because they can topple onto children who use furniture to pull up and stand.
  • For more information about creating a child-safe home, visit the National Safe Kids Campaign at www.safekids.org

Your local Mr. Handyman can assist you with many of these baby-proofing tasks, such as installing child gates, securing furniture, and installing child latches on drawers and cupboards. You would be surprised how much a trained technician can get done in a few hours.