Curious and playful toddlers love to explore the world around them. That means there is no corner of your home that is off-limits in their adventurous minds.
That’s why toddler-proofing every room in your home is so important. This post explains everything you need to consider when child-proofing, plus you can grab a handy checklist to keep and print too!
Before your baby was born you probably did a little baby-proofing in preparation for their arrival.
But it’s not just rolling or crawling you need to worry about now. Your toddler is probably climbing on furniture and moving chairs around to give him or her access to nearly every inch of your home!
That vase you love so much and think is safe on the hallway console table? Think again!
The biggest concern here is of course your toddler’s safety.
But when toddler-proofing you may also want to consider your home’s safety. When left alone with a black marker pen, a toddler can do a lot of damage in a relatively short space of time.
So this toddler-proofing checklist for your home will look at not only areas of safety, but also potential damage limitation. This means that your toddler can play without you worrying that they have been awfully quiet for the last five minutes. And we all know what it means when a little one has gone quiet, haha!
Here’s a room-by-room guide to what you need to consider when child-proofing your home for a little one who is now walking.
The summary checklist can be downloaded at the end of the post.
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Whole house toddler-proofing tips
First of all let’s take a look at recurring potential issues around the home that may cause a problem for your toddler.
Kids take a few years to figure out their fingers should not be gripping the edge of the door when they slam it.
Your child may escape with just a few tears, but some injuries can lead to lifelong issues. The British Association of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons said that around 30,000 children trap their fingers in doors each year and around 1,500 need surgery, as reported by the BBC.
So take a look at all of the doors in your home. Are any of them spring-loaded, so that they automatically shut regardless of what’s in the way? Are any heavy and prone to slamming shut in a breeze?
You don’t need to put a buffer on every door, but consider if there are any that your toddler may be in and out of most frequently, such as the door between the living room and kitchen or the bathroom door, and add something to stop it slamming.
A great hack is to get a swimming pool noodle, cut it into sections, then cut those sections in half and place them over the door edge. It stops the door from closing!
Alternatively there are door stoppers that fit to your door without being too obtrusive visually and will stop your child from shutting the door.
In the last few years there have been warnings about the use of plug socket covers in the UK. Some reports said certain socket covers may actually be more dangerous than not using one.
Consumer website Which? Wrote a report saying most plug sockets are safe because by law they must have safety shutters that prevent a child sticking their fingers into the holes.
The Electrical Safety Council has said there is no significant risk to children from 13 amp sockets that comfort to product standard BS 1363.
Having said that, there are still plug socket covers on the market and many parents do prefer to use them just for peace of mind.
Choose socket covers that do not leave any gaps around the cover for a child to stick a finger or toys through the gaps.
In the US, the National Fire Protection Association offers advice on tamper-resistant receptacles for electrical sockets. This stops anything from being inserted into the holes. You can read more here.
Your staircase should have stair gates fitted at the top and bottom of the staircase. These can be removed when your child is around two, which is when they may be tall and nimble enough to climb over the stair gate.
At this stage it becomes more dangerous to have the stair gate than not to.
In 2018, the consumer site Which issued a warning to UK parents to not buy three brands of stair gate – the Dreambaby Retractable Gate, Lindam Easy Fit Plus Deluxe Safety Gate and Safetots Self-closing gate.
When buying a stair gate, consider the following issues:
- Measure where the stair gate will go carefully and ensure the gate you want to buy will fit safely in the gap. There should be a description on the product of what size gap it fits.
- How does the stair gate open. Will it allow you space to move around the gate when it is open? A concertina or retractable gate is good for small spaces where a side-opening gate may take up too much room.
- Stair gates at the top of the stairs need to open towards you, not down the flight of stairs.
- Use screw-fit gates at the top of the stairs.
- Test how easy it is to open the mechanism. Toddlers are smart and can work out how a system works, so make sure it’s tough enough to open so they can’t do it themselves.
Install window limiters where your toddler may be able to climb up to the windowsill, especially on the top floor of your home. In the summer you will want to have the windows open to circulate air, but your toddler will be drawn to stare out. A window limiter prevents the window opening wide enough for them to fall out.
Otherwise keep windows locked and keep keys somewhere your toddler cannot reach them.
Tables and other surfaces
Look at all surfaces that are at your toddler’s height or reach and clear them of anything breakable, heavy or sharp.
Yes this may make your living room decor look a little dull for a while, but don’t worry, it’s not forever.
In the meantime, consider installing some shelves around the room for your vases and other breakable decorative items.
Use wall straps or safety brackets to attach large pieces of furniture to the walls.
As your toddler cruises around your living room, bedroom and elsewhere, they may well either pull furniture over, or start trying to climb it.
If any of your furniture has sharp corners, add padding to the edges.
Do you have any full-length mirrors? How are they attached to the wall or are they free-standing?
If they are attached to the wall, then double check if they are secure. Your toddler may pull and bang the mirror as they love their own reflection, so consider whether the mirror is attached well enough to withstand this. If not, consider moving it to a room where you can shut the door and keep your toddler away.
Free-standing mirrors can be pulled over if your toddler falls into them or yanks hard enough on them, so be sure they are in a room that your toddler does not have access to.
If you have blinds installed anywhere, check the cords have been trimmed so they do not hang too low and that you have a secure fitting on the wall to attach them to.
The best option is to not have blinds with looped cords at all, so look into replacing them if you can. There’s lots of advice on the Rospa website.
Also check that the string used to gather your curtains into pleats is trimmed close to the curtain and the ends tied securely.
Bathrooms tend to be full of chemical products, from bubble baths and shampoos to cleaning solutions such as bleach.
Where you can, keep all chemical products in a cupboard at your head height so your toddler has no chance to reaching them.
Where you cannot, put them in a cupboard and install a cupboard lock so only you can access it.
Taps heat up when you’re using the hot water. You can cover them with cute tap covers that stop your child burning themselves on the hot metal.
Consider whether your toddler will be able to turn on any taps themselves when in the bath. Of course you should be with them at all times, but if you are worried then you can get tap covers that go over the tap controls as well as the spout.
When cooking keep pans at the back of the burners on your hob and turn handles away from the edge so that your toddler cannot reach and pull them down.
If you keep cleaning products in the cupboard under the sink then add cupboard door catches to it so that your toddler cannot open it.
The best option is to move all chemical cleaners to a high cupboard.
Toddlers are particularly drawn to things like dishwasher tablets and laundry detergent capsules as they are bright and colourful. Toddlers have suffered nasty burns to their mouth and throat after biting into this type of product.
Be sure to close the lids of the packaging for this type of product so that the safety catch clicks. As above, keep them stored well out of reach.
Keep your booze out of arm’s reach or in a locked cabinet.
Pet food and water bowls
Your toddler will be fascinated by your pet’s bowls, as well as the kitty litter tray if you have a cat.
Consider moving these items into a room which is secured with a stair gate (your cat will be able to jump over it).
Keep bags of pet food in a safe place, such as in the utility room with the door shut, so that your little one doesn’t decide to spill it everywhere, or worse snack on it.
Whether you keep your aspirin and other medications in a box or on a shelf, this should be well out of reach of your toddler. I recommend putting them in a kitchen cupboard at your head height so that your child definitely cannot reach.
Remember to place medicines that they use regularly, such as Calpol, here too.
Matches and lighters
Store matches and lighters in high cupboards. Kids will be in and out of drawers in the kitchen before you know it!
Keep knives in a block pushed to the back of the kitchen counter. If you do normally keep them in drawers then secure the drawers shut with child-proofing catches.
You could also try a magnetic strip on the wall above the kitchen counter to store the knives.
Stop your toddler from diving into the bin for leftovers by securing the lid with a catch.
Floor and table lamps
Toddlers will swing on floor lamps and may push table lamps over.
Try to move them so they are high up, and pushed towards the back of furniture units. With floor lamps you could strategically place them behind sofas or in a corner where your toddler cannot easily push them over and break them.
If you have a working fireplace then be sure to have sturdy guards in place to keep your toddler well away from it.
Decorative fireplaces may have been fixed to the wall with strong glue and nails, so check they are secure by tugging on them.
If it has sharp edges and steps around it, you may want to install a child safety gate around the fireplace, even if you never light it.
Ensure cables aren’t lying anywhere your child may trip over them.
Try to coil cables and secure any slack with cable ties and tuck them behind furniture so that your child cannot pull on them.
Is your television secure to the wall? If not, could your child easily tip it over? Consider placing it somewhere low so it won’t break if it does get pulled over and push it as far to the back of the unit as you possibly can.
Ever have that annoying feeling that you left your hair straighteners switched on after you’ve left the house?
The only way I found to solve this problem, and it helps with child-proofing, was to keep the hair straighteners stored away from where I plug them in.
This way I have to hold them in my hand at all times when using them, and cannot simply put them down on the side still plugged in when I’m done. I have to unplug them and store them away in a plastic container I have on my make-up trolley in the bathroom.
Be sure to not keeping your straighteners plugged in, even if the switch is turned off.
If you have expensive make-up then it’s best to keep it out of reach before your toddler eats your favourite lipstick!
Try installing a high shelf where you can keep your make-up organised in boxes well out of reach.
While your toddler may not hurt themselves with your laptop, iPad and smartphone, they can seriously hurt your bank balance!
Think about where you keep your expensive devices and find a secure place for them which is totally out of reach.
This may involve moving your charging station to a higher shelf.
If you use creams and moisturiser on your toddler’s skin then place these out of their reach. Kids love to copy what you do, and crave the independence to look after themselves. As a result, they may see playing with creams in their room as fun.
You could install a shelf close to your nappy changing station where you can reach the creams conveniently but your toddler cannot.
Keep your wipes supply out of reach too, as toddlers love to pull wipes out of the packet, which is a fun game for them but becomes expensive for you when you can to keep rushing out to buy more wipes!
Level of cot bed
If your toddler is still in a cot bed then ensure the mattress base is at its lowest setting (it probably is already). When they start climbing out, now is the time to take the railings off or upgrade them to a toddler bed.
Pens and stickers
Art supplies are great fun, but try to keep them secure when it’s bedtime.
Once your toddler can hop in and out of bed as they please, they will explore their bedroom after hours when you’re asleep or downstairs.
There’s nothing worse than discovering your little one found the black crayon and scrawled all over their wall, their furniture and themselves!
Plus stickers can be a nightmare to peel off furniture!
I keep our art supplies in the girls’ playroom, but previously have kept them in a sealed plastic box in the wardrobe on a high shelf between use.
If your back garden has a pond then consider fencing it off or adding a metal grid to cover it completely. This may not be very aesthetically pleasing, but it’s essential you secure the water.
You may want to consider getting rid of the pond altogether to give you a little more child-friendly space in the garden.
Does your back garden have a side gate or gates and are they secure? A sliding lock may be easy for your toddler to open once they figure out how, so consider adding a padlock so they can’t escape.
Check for toxic plants
If you’re anything like me then you may struggle to differentiate between plants.
But it’s important to take stock of what is in your garden now your toddler is probably eagerly exploring.
There’s a handy list of common poisonous plants over at House Beautiful.
Secure the shed
Keep the shed locked with a padlock, or a high catch on the door, especially if you keep a lot of tools stored there.
Utility room & garage
Ironing board and iron
Store your ironing board upright in a secure corner or secured to the wall.
Avoid leaving the iron plugged in, and never leave it unattended when using it.
Keep your tools secure in your garage and shed behind a locked door.
Ensure rugs have a non-slip rug holder underneath, especially on hard flooring.
Check the rug doesn’t have any raised corners that your child may trip over.
If your door has an easy-open handle then try to remember to lock it when you are at home.
Toddlers are little escape artists and may attempt to make a run for it!
Download your free checklist here: