Updated August 2, 2019
Toddler safety requires constant attention once your child becomes mobile. Babies can be placed in a swing or set down for a nap and this can give a parent much-needed time to rest.
All parents will agree that this luxury ends when your child takes her first step.
Though we cannot take your eyes off our baby when they are active, we can sit down and regroup when our child is napping or in a swing.
Toddlers, on the other hand, are free to roam and do they ever! They know how to get into things; however, they often don’t know how to get out.
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25 Toddler Safety Ideas For Your Home:
1. Lock Cabinets
If your toddler has seen you open a cabinet door once, it’s time to put a lock on it! Curiosity gets toddlers into serious trouble more than anything else. It’s how they learn and unfortunately, they can learn good things as well as bad. They simply don’t know the difference.
There are many safety locks you can purchase for your kitchen, bathroom and basement cabinets. If you prefer to shop locally, you can find these items at your local hardware store. We have seen any item you could possibly need at True Value, Home Depot, and Lowes to name a few.
It is also very easy to find these items online. Child-safety locks are essential. Your cabinets will remain easy for you to access and will keep your toddler safe from hazardous materials.
Remember that it takes no time at all for your child to get into trouble if you get called away or have to answer the phone.
No parent ever thinks their child will end up in the emergency room talking to poison control. It can happen to anyone. Being on top of toddler safety never ends until your toddler grows up.
One final comment we want to make. It is the impact accidental poisoning can have on parents. When a parent or health care professional has not experienced a tragedy such as this for themselves, there is often a rush to judgment. As a loving parent, it can be extremely hard to handle.
The unsolicited opinions you will hear from bystanders, medical personnel and other parents who have not been through this trauma, can leave any parent feeling like a horrible parent. You are already dealing with the fear about the health of your child and feel enough guilt.
This last comment is not intended to instill fear. As clinician’s and parents, we have seen this scenario in the emergency room many times. Sue and I want the take-home message to be that this does happen fairly often and is never (with rare exception) the fault of the parent.
* When choosing cabinet locks, decide what will work best based on the size and strength of your child.
Toddlers are strong and very determined. Once they have observed a parent or sibling open a cabinet or refrigerator door, they will never forget what they saw. At some time in the future, opening that cabinet or door will be their next big challenge.
Your toddler is always watching and mirroring what you do throughout the day. Many parents are aware of this fact, but don’t take preventive measures. Instead, they feel confident they will catch their child in the act. This can be a risky way to manage toddler safety in your home. As parents, we don’t realize how often we get distracted.
When it comes to selecting child safety products, it is important to select safety items that are appropriate for your child’s age and size. Certain cabinet locks are simply not strong enough for some toddlers.
*Our children were determined to get into the refrigerator. Ultimately, we had to screw a lock into the metal of our refrigerator door.
More about hazardous chemicals…
The cabinets that store toxic materials such as paints, detergents and other hazardous materials should be located up high and out of the reach of your toddler. Toddlers can climb, so these cabinets must still be kept closed and locked at all times.
If you have just had your first child, you have likely not been very concerned about where you have been storing your hazardous materials. In fact, many of us (before having children) tend to store chemicals in the lower cabinets under the sink in the kitchen or basement. Though toddlers will be deterred by locks placed on cabinet doors, locks also spark curiosity. A child with enough time, sitting in front of a cabinet at their level can get into almost any cabinet.
Toddlers and young children are fast learners. Combine this with the fact that they are not at all concerned about damaging cabinets and you have a recipe for disaster. In their eyes, anything goes. This is simply the perspective of a toddler and it is completely normal age-appropriate behavior.
Poison Control Numbers:
As parents, we have to constantly remind ourselves that toddlers are aspiring Houdini’s, and accidents are going to happen every day throughout the country Often these parents are very careful and take the necessary precautions.
No parent feels they will ever need poison control numbers or EMS; however, the fact of the matter is, they often do.
Should you need to call poison control, it does not mean you are a bad parent.
Quite the contrary, as you took the time to have the number readily available and were prepared.
Most parents put the poison control number on the refrigerator, alongside numbers for the local ambulance, police and fire department.
When you are in need of any of these numbers, time is critical and looking for phone numbers when you are stressed and panicking can take twice as long.
Also, take the time to get familiar with your cell phone and add the numbers to your contact list for auto-dialing.
Cell phones also have emergency access built into the phone.
Even if you know how to use the emergency option on your cellphone, always keep the numbers on a piece of paper and readily accessible should there be any technical problems with your phone.
Another concern when talking about toddlers and cabinet doors is the fact that the doors can close on little fingers.
2. Lower The Temperature Of Your Hot Water
The temperature of hot water varies significantly from one home to another.
When there are only adults in a home the temperature of hot water is often set hotter as it is less of a concern.
However, when toddlers are in the house, what temperature you set your hot water heater at is extremely important.
If a toddler can reach a faucet, they have no problem turning on the faucet and can easily access water in a sink or tub.
If the water is scalding, serious burns can result. If your child was to turn on the hot water in the tub, trying to get out of the tub in time may not be possible.
The best way to address this concern is to make access to the bathroom and other places in the house where water faucets are accessible, completely off-limits to your child by placing a lock on the door.
Many appliances are large enough for a toddler to get inside. Or, in the case of microwave ovens, they can place something in an appliance that does not belong there and cause serious problems.
Always put locks on appliances. This can be an inconvenience; however, better that than experiencing a tragic event that could have been avoided.
If a child gets into a refrigerator and closes the door, it can be hard or even impossible for your child to open the door due to the suction.
This goes for washers and dryers as well and is why appliances cannot be discarded without removing the door.
4. Poisonous Plants
When we think of poisonous plants in the house, many of us think of dogs eating poinsettias.
Unfortunately, toddlers are just as likely to put something in their mouth without any hesitation.
Parents with plants in the house, want to be aware of what, if any, plants are poisonous.
5. Candles and matches
This is often overlooked when toddler-proofing. If you’re anything like me, you love scented candles. I use scented candles all the time.
I know most of us probably don’t use matches anymore. But if you do, you’ll want to secure them up high or even in a locked cabinet or drawer.
Small children can be fascinated by fire and drawn to candles. Scented candles can smell amazing!
Your toddler could attempt to chew on the wax and get burned or possibly choke. If they ingest scented candle wax they could become seriously ill.
6. Secure Hutches, Dressers, And Bookcases To The Wall
Bookcases do not always sit securely against a wall. Furthermore, when filled with books the weight can make a bookcase top-heavy and very unstable.
So much so that it can easily fall over with little effort. Should your child be in front of a bookcase or hutch this can be a disaster waiting to happen.
Make sure any tall, upright furniture leans into the wall and secure the furniture to the wall with the appropriate hardware.
Let’s talk pictures.
Do you have a lot of pictures in frames that you keep on tables or on bookcases?
You’ll want to check if they are made of glass. If they are made of glass, hang them up high on a wall or change them out for plastic frames.
It probably seems like a minor concern, until the one time your toddler is playing, knocks over a photo and shattered glass ends up all over the floor.
Toddlers with access to pieces of broken glass is a very dangerous situation.
Then you find yourself in the emergency room and nobody wants to end up in the emergency room with a toddler…nobody!
Make sure that your flat-screen TV is mounted to the wall securely. If you have it on a TV stand be sure both the TV and the stand are mounted securely to the wall.
7. Secure Windows and Install Window Guards
Virtually anything your toddler has seen you do, she will be able to do if given the opportunity and enough time.
Toddlers learn very quickly. As parents, we may do something and not be aware that our child is watching.
The expression “see one do one” applies to toddlers as well as adults. If we do not give our children credit for there amazing ability to pick up tasks (both good and bad) very quickly, accidents can happen.
Windows are always a concerning matter depending on what type of building you live in. Windows on higher levels can be more dangerous, but toddlers can get hurt falling out of a first-floor window.
When a window or door is left open or unlocked, your child can get injured in a number of ways.
Recently, I heard a report on the radio involving a baby/toddler crawling across a busy road. Fortunately, a driver stopped his car and blocked oncoming traffic until he could pick up the child and return the child to the home which was adjacent to the roadway.
One might say that the parent should have been more attentive. Easy to say and in some cases this may be correct. This parent was in shock over what happened. Again, even the best, most attentive parents can experience a situation such as this.
It is not hard to imagine this happening. The toddler simply learned how to open the door and wander off the property.
This is a dramatic story; however, it does indicate what can happen if your child gains access to the outdoors without your knowledge. We will talk about door locks in another section.
If you have windows you never open, make sure they are securely locked. For windows, you use frequently, install window guards.
8. Keep Furniture Away From Windows
Toddlers are very good at figuring out ways to get what they want and getting to where they want to go.
They are always watching us and it doesn’t take long before they figure out how easy it is to simply climb on a piece of furniture.
Once they have mastered this maneuver, they have created a number of new ways to get themselves into serious trouble.
It may be accessing an open window, unlocking and opening a window or reaching for a cord next to the window as discussed below.
The terrible 2’s are just that but not because your child is ill-behaved. Toddlers are extremely adventurous and want to explore.
It is up to the parent to make sure they are not going to put themselves in a dangerous situation.
9. Keep Blind Cords Out Of Reach
Sadly, we have all heard stories of toddlers dying as a result of getting tangled in window blind cords.
No one ever believes it could happen to their child; however, the parents to whom this has happened thought the same.
Toddlers that can walk and babies that can stand up with the help of furniture, chairs or hanging cords are at risk of having an accident if window cords connected to drapes or blinds are not kept securely out of reach.
Make sure cords adjacent to windows are tied up high and well out of the reach of your child.
If possible use cordless blinds. Or cut the cords and attach a tassel that will still allow you to move the blinds up and down.
Place outlet covers on wall sockets
Placing outlet covers on all open sockets is good practice whether children are around or not.
For babies, you can use the plugin protectors; however, for toddlers, it is far better to use Universal Self-Closing Electrical Outlet Covers
Covering all unused sockets is extremely inexpensive and safeguards your house from any children that may visit the house.
This preventive measure is essential for if you have a toddler in the house. Putting utensils and other metal objects into outlets is easy to do and outlets are everywhere.
11. Cover Electrical Cords
Electrical cords run throughout most houses. Granted, with WIFi and Bluetooth there are far fewer cords around the house but they still do exist.
When your baby or toddler is crawling around the house, electrical cords are intriguing. Especially trying to find out where they go.
There are 5 main reasons why you want to account for all the electrical wires in your house that course along the floor and under rugs if your child is in the cruise-control mode.
- Toddlers will follow the cords back to their origin and we all know what can happen then.
- Cords can get damaged by vacuum cleaners or other floor machinery or simply with foot traffic. This can expose live wires and if there is a hot spot your child will be sure to try and find it.
- Your child can teeth on the cord.
- Pulling a cord and toppling a lamp on their head is not uncommon.
- Toddlers like to run and cords can trip your child.
- If you have a pet they can easily chew a wire and leave it bare
- Pets can also trip on a cord and cause an item to fall off a table or shelf
When it comes to plugs and outlets one of the things that you want to make sure is that your power strips are hidden behind or mounted out of reach.
A curious toddler can easily stick something metal into a power strip. Also, make sure to cover the other plug openings that aren’t being used.
12. Do A Final Walk/Crawl Through To Identify Any Toddler Accessible Hazards
When you are done toddler-proofing your home, it’s time for a walkthrough or better yet a crawl through.
Get down to the level of your toddler and see what home looks like from their perspective.
You may be surprised at the access your child has to hazards you might otherwise not have noticed.
Be sure to check your toddler’s toys and toy box when you are you down on their level.
Toys can break and small pieces could be on the floor or at the bottom of the toybox. Those small pieces can be a choking hazard.
Make sure if your child is doing any kind of sensory play that you carefully supervise them.
Sensory play often involves using ingredients that are not safe to eat and may include small items like rocks which could present a choking hazard.
13. Keep Pet Supplies And Litter Boxes In A Locked Room
If you have pets, aside from the disaster a toddler can make in a matter of seconds be simply dispersing the litter box contents, even more concerning, are the diseases that cats and other household pets can harbor in litter boxes.
Yes, not a pleasant topic but a reality. During pregnancy, many parents will have already learned that pregnant women should never clean the litter box due to the risk of a condition known as Toxoplasmosis which can affect the fetus.
Lastly and again not a pleasant thought, is that toddlers will put literally anything in their mouths and the contents in a litter box are no exception.
So be sure to lock up the litter box, the dog food bowls or anything else you find that is accessible when you do your house crawl-through inspection.
14. Make Bathrooms and the kitchen Inaccessible
Bathrooms should always be inaccessible to toddlers who are able to cruise or walk around the house.
If there is an open toilet, a toddler knows how to get into trouble but not necessarily how to get out. Sadly, drownings do occur as a result of this.
Furthermore, if they were to fall into a tub they cannot always get out. Even the toilet for that matter!
When it comes to medications in the home you need to keep your medication under lock and key.
There are so many medications that are toxic to toddlers, even in small doses.
It isn’t worth the risk. Even placing them high up in the cabinet Isn’t considered safe enough.
Toddlers climb. Keep your medications locked up and keep your toddler safe.
The best thing you can do in your kitchen is to make sure that it’s gated and that your child is not allowed in the kitchen without you or without adult supervision.
Make sure all low cabinets have a lock on them.
Keep all chemicals and cleaning products out of reach.
You’ll want to keep your dishwasher locked and be sure to run it right away when it is full.
Keep dishwashing pods locked up! Dishwashing pods can easily be mistaken for candy by a curious toddler.
If you use dishwashing pods, keep them in an upper cabinet.
They are brightly colored and could be mistaken for candy by your toddler.
The microwave presents a potential hazard for toddlers. Keep the microwave out of reach.
You’d be surprised how quickly a toddler can figure out how to use the microwave.
If possible use a stove guard.
Toddlers can reach up for things on the counter. Be sure all small appliances are secured and out of reach.
Keep Keurig K-Cups in an upper cabinet.
Do not leave a stool in the kitchen that your toddler could climb on to get access to the kitchen counters.
15. Gym Equipment
Being in the medical field, I cannot count how many times in over 20 years I have seen children inadvertently hurt by heavy GYM equipment.
In the emergency room, it is often an accident involving a sibling.
Dropping a heavy barbell on a sibling’s foot or a crushing injury as a result of fingers getting in between weightlifting equipment.
It is also very important to remember to cover sharp corners on gym equipment. Workout equipment is often at a toddler’s eye level.
16. Lock Doors To Outside
Be vigilant about keeping outside doors closed and secured. Recently, there was a news story about a baby crawling onto a busy street. Fortunately, a motorist was able to quickly stop the oncoming traffic.
The baby was not harmed and was returned to the home where the parents were shocked to learn their child had crawled out of the house through an open exterior door.
There will be those who will shame the parents of this baby for allowing such an event to occur. The true reality of this situation is that it could happen to any parent.
The important message here is to learn from others and not pass judgment.
Most often in these situations, parents feel bad enough and do not need comments to suggest they are bad parents.
Surely, there are exceptions; however, suggesting a parent is negligent should be determined based on the circumstances surrounding the incident.
17. Keep Electric Door Openers Hidden
Children have and always will be intrigued by remote control door openers.
Don’t think they aren’t watching your every move.
Not to mention seeing you open the door at least once a day.
So when your back is turned don’t be surprised if your little one has caused your garage door to magically open or close.
This is a concern for many reasons. Someone, including your child, could be under the door.
If the door is for security, opening it means your child could run out into the street.
The important point about this and many other safety tips outlined in this article is that toddlers and young children are still exploring the world around them.
Since a toddler does not understand the cause-and-effect relationship of a particular action, they should be instructed firmly about the actions they take that pose a danger to them.
Making the environment around them as safe as possible is not enough. They have to learn about the consequences of their actions.
Take the time to explain the danger associated with an action that could be harmful.
Sending a child to their room without a discussion may not do anything to stop a child from doing it again if they don’t understand what they did wrong.
18. Gate Stairways
Placing a gate at stairways is a must if you have children running around the house.
No Matter how careful we can be as parents, stairways need to be a top priority when it comes to safety in the house.
Setting an age limit is not possible as this is dependent on many factors and is always better to be over-cautious.
It is no wonder, if one searches on Amazon for safety items relating to children, that child gates is always near the top searched item.
Types of gates:
When buying gates for stairs and doorways, this is not an item where you want to improvise. Take measurements and make
sure you purchase the right size gate for the job. Almost anyone can relate to falling down the stairs at one time or another as a
child. I certainly can. Whether or not your child gets hurt is unpredictable. Other safety factors to keep in mind when dealing
with stairs is whether the stairs are carpeted or hardwood.
19. Empty bucket of water immediately after use:
This is something we might not think about if children are not around.
However, as discussed under bathroom safety, any amount of water can be hazardous when considering toddler safety.
Toddlers are adventurous and a bucket of water can easily attract their attention.
No one would think that a toddler could be injured or drown in a bucket of water but sadly they can.
These suggestions are not mentioned to instill fear in parents of toddlers.
The purpose is to simply remind parents of the safety concerns that have been identified as a result of rare-though-tragic accidents.
Evaluating toddler safety is best done by physically seeing the world from their perspective. Put yourself at their level and crawl around the house.
Look for potentially hazardous situations that can be avoided.
20. Secure the laundry room and cleaning supplies:
Like the bathroom, the laundry room also must be strictly off-limits when addressing toddler safety in your home. The dangers in the laundry room are numerous:
- Large appliances, particularly dryers are enticing to toddlers and this is one more reason the entire laundry area must be secure and off-limits to your toddler.
- Keep powdered and liquid detergents out of reach of your toddler.
21. Ceiling Fan Chains
Toddlers love to try and reach up for chains hanging from the ceiling.
Even if the chain is not within their reach a child is more than capable of pulling over a stool or chair to reach hanging items, whether that be plants, ceiling fan pull chains or skylight windows.
If you have chairs or ladders easily accessible, make sure they cannot be repositioned allowing your child to reach the items noted above.
22. Put Bumpers On Corners Of Glass Or Marble Tables
Many children cut their chin on the corner or edge of a table. It is an extremely common accident and the injury can be quite
severe. The best way to protect your toddler from this type of injury is to cover the corners of the table with foam rubber. You
should do this to all the tables in the house that have sharp corners. Toddlers move quickly and love to climb so there is no
table that is safe when there is a toddler in the house.
A quick-moving toddler and the sharp end of a table can easily have you taking a trip to the emergency room for
If you are currently in the process of buying furniture, avoid buying tables that have pointed corners. Especially tables with
glass, granite, or marble tabletops as they are the most dangerous.
You can cover the table corners with plumbing insulation used to wrap pipes. It is easy to find this insulation at Lowes or Home Depot. It’s a great option and is very inexpensive.
So if you’re strapped for cash, just get some pipe insulation. It will work well. Just make sure it is securely fastened. As with any DIY project, always check your work when you are done. Make sure the corners of the table are covered properly.
23. Put Away Ladders:
Ladders include even simple step ladders that we would otherwise not think twice about. Not only because your child could fall off a ladder. A child can also get their fingers stuck in the mechanism that locks ladders in place.
As a mom, I am always concerned when a ladder is leaning up against a wall in the garage or basement. Take your eyes off your toddler for a minute and they could be up that ladder. Worse they could pull the ladder over on themselves which could result in a serious injury.
Ladders must be secured to the wall and out of the reach of children so they cannot climb on them.
24. Ensure pool safety:
Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional deaths in children ages 1-4 years old. This information is according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). (Source)
Pool safety tips:
Never leave your child unattended at your pool. Stay within an arms reach of your child at all times.
- Make sure there is an adult who can swim next to the pool and watching the children at all times.
- Fence in your pool and make sure the fence is at least 4 feet high. If your pool is above ground be sure to pull up and lock your pool ladder.
- Install pool covers and gate alarms.
- Teach your children how to swim but never rely on their ability to swim.
25. Pets and Toddler Safety:
Here are some important statistics if you have a pet and a toddler:
- Between 2015 and 2016, 44% of family households in the United States have a dog according to the American Pet Products Association (Source)
- The Centers for Disease Control, states that there are 4.7 million dog bites in the United States each year (Source).
- The majority of dog bites in children are by a dog they know and often it is their own dog.
Based on the information noted above, preparation is the key to maintaining toddler safety around the family dog.
Tips for toddler safety around the family dog:
Teach your child to handle the family dog gently. No tail or ear pulling, no hitting the dog, and no yelling at the dog. Dog toys are dog toys only.
Do not allow your toddler to play with the dog’s toys. Teach your child to never put their hands in the dog’s food dish and try to avoid having your toddler walk around with food. Toddlers and dogs are often at the same level and dogs will lung for food.
When it comes to toddler safety, there is a lot to know. Toddlers are capable of getting into many difficult situations once they are able to walk. They don’t understand the consequences of their actions. Given their stage of development both physically and emotionally, it is no surprise that toddlers can experience extreme frustration and tantrums.
The next time your toddler is testing your limits. Instead of getting angry, listen and try to communicate using words and actions that your child can understand. Toddlers understand far more than we realize. They simply cannot express the way they feel.
Granted, when dealing with such a serious topic as toddler safety, there will be times when you will have to be firm. Try to make the serious confrontations more the exception than the rule. If you take this approach to toddler safety, when you need to discipline your child your actions will be more effective.
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