Creating Safe Environments for Infants, Toddlers, and Young Children

Safe spaces for children at home.

Babies, toddlers, and young children are constantly learning about the world around them. But curiosity could open the door to unintentional injuries, such as those caused by burns, drowning, falls, poisoning, and road traffic. 

Though most unintentional injuries can be prevented, they are the leading cause of morbidity and mortality among children in the United States. 

Infants and toddlers have a limited understanding of safety, danger, and the consequences of their actions in their eager attempts to explore their environments. Drawers can become staircases, medicine and creams could be mistaken for food, and more. 

As a parent or caregiver, it’s important to continuously take steps to eliminate hazards and create safe spaces for children in the home and out of the home with childproofing, but remember that it doesn’t eliminate the need for supervision.

Around the House

  • Install smoke detectors on every level of your home and near bedrooms.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors near sleeping areas in your homes if you use gas or oil heat or have an attached garage.
  • Set your water heater temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit to help prevent burns from hot water. 
  • Install covers on all electrical outlets.
  • Secure furniture and large appliances to the wall, so that your kids can’t tip them over if they climb on them.
  • Use safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs and in the doorways of rooms with hazards. Ensure that you are using the proper gates for the area you choose for installation. For example, only gates that screw to the wall should be used as the top of stairs.  
  • Check the floor regularly for small items and toys that younger children can choke on.
  • Secure doors with door knob covers or lever locks to make it harder for children to open doors leading out of your home, to the bathroom, to the basement, or to closets.  
  • Place furniture away from balconies and high windows so children can’t climb onto window sills.
  • Use window guards and safety netting to help prevent falls from windows, balconies, decks, and landings. Window screens are not effective for preventing children from falling out of windows.
  • Make sure window blinds do not have looped cords, as they can be strangulation hazards.
  • Keep loose or spare batteries locked away. Keep devices with batteries out of the reach of children.
  •  Keep firearms unloaded and locked away.
  • Remove free-falling lids from toy chests, which should have lids that stay open or removable ones.
  • For infants, toddlers, and all children who still mouth objects, avoid toys with small parts, which could pose a fatal choking hazard. Never give young children small balls or balloons.
  • Install childproof latches on drawers and cabinets. 

Living Room

  • Mount your TV to the wall or anchor TVs on stands to the wall.
  • Keep candles and matches out of reach.
  • Make sure the fireplace is covered when it is not in use. When it’s in use, install heat-resistant gates to use when the flames are burning. 
  • Keep power strips hidden behind furniture or buy a powerstrip cover.
  • Use edge guards to cover coffee table corners. 

Kitchen/Dining Room

  • Turn pot handles inward on the stove and use back burners. 
  • Ensure your oven has an anti-tip bracket installed.
  • Install latches on appliance doors or keep them securely closed at all times.
  • Install stove knob covers.
  • Place hot foods and liquids at the center of tables.
  • Remove knives, glass, and other sharp objects from countertops.
  • Keep cleaners out of reach and locked away.
  • Keep drinking alcohol out of reach and locked away. 
  • Don’t use tablecloths, as they can be grabbed and pulled. 

Bathroom

  • Always supervise children during bath time. Empty bathtubs immediately after use.
  • Keep medication securely locked in child resistant containers in a high cabinet.
  •  Store razor blades, nail clippers, and other sharp tools in a locked cabinet.
  • Always leave the toilet closed and/or install a toilet-lid lock.
  • Unplug hair dryers, curling irons, and electric razors when they’re not in use.
  • Keep bottles of mouthwash, perfumes, hair dyes, hair sprays, nail polishes, and nail polish removers stored in a locked cabinet.

Laundry Room/Garage

  • Close washer and dryer doors.
  • Use childproof locks for the laundry chute.
  • Keep the following tools, products, and supplies stored away from children:
    • Auto maintenance, pool care, gardening, lawn work
    • Bleaches, detergents, detergent pods, and other cleaning products

Outdoor safety

  • Never leave children alone outside.
  • Install a fence with a self-closing gate around a pool or hot tub. Consider installing a pool alarm.
  • Remove ladders from above ground pools when not in use. 
  • If you own a pool, invest in swimming lessons for children if you’re able to. 
  • Remove trash, sharp branches, tools, lawn equipment, and animal feces from outdoor play areas. 
  • Keep swing sets parts free from rust, splinters, and sharp edges. Make sure all parts are securely fastened. 
  • Cover sand boxes when not in use so animals won’t use them as a litter box
  • Teach children not to play on the street and to hold your hand when you cross the street. 
  • If you buy bicycles, scooters, skateboards, or inline skates, don’t forget to include appropriate safety gear, such as helmets and pads.
Picture: A young baby looks up at the camera.

Series Navigation

The Developmentally Appropriate Parenting Series highlights several early childhood topics to support parents and caregivers who are caring for young children. Use the list below to navigate through each series topic:

Learn more about the series.

 

Picture: A young baby looks up at the camera.
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