Designing your dream nursery isn’t just about choosing a cute theme and poring over paint colors. While it’s easy to get caught up in all that fun stuff, you need to spend just as much time making sure it’s a safe space for your baby. Home accidents send nearly 2 million children under the age of 4 to the emergency room every year; so before your new baby moves in, use these tips to inspect the big potential trouble spots in your nursery.
Take Careful Crib Notes
Make sure yours meets current government safety standards. The slats shouldn’t be more than 2-3/8 inches apart (about the width of a soda can) so your baby can’t get her head stuck in them. (Cribs with cutout designs on the end panels pose a similar threat). Check out the corner posts too — they shouldn’t have any decorative knobs or other elements on top, which could snag your baby’s clothing and lead to strangulation or other serious injuries.
Check (and regularly recheck) the screws, bolts, and mattress supports to make sure they’re not loose or broken.
Arrange the nursery so that the crib, playpen, and other low-standing pieces of furniture are away from the windows. If they’re too close, your baby could reach the window cords -a major strangulation hazard. Install window guards, and buy cordless window coverings if possible
Store Toys the Smart Way
The Home Safety Council recommends storing toys in bins or boxes without lids. If your toy chest does have a lid, it should also have a spring-loaded mechanical arm that prevents the lid from falling on your baby’s hand or trapping him if he manages to climb inside. Don’t have one? Retrofit your toy box with a kit from the hardware store.
Don’t Overlook Outlets
Always put plug protectors in unused electrical outlets. Look for the type that covers the entire outlet plate, since a determined toddler can wiggle individual protectors out of the sockets. (Some models require that adults use two hands to get to the socket, so it’s especially hard for kids to remove them.) Keep electrical cords out of your little one’s reach by tucking them behind furniture or investing in cord shorteners.
Go for Minimalism
There should only be two things in your baby’s crib: a firm, tight-fitting mattress and a crib sheet. It’s tempting to make it look cute and cozy with lots of blankets, stuffed animals, and pillows, but they’re all suffocation hazards for kids under 1 year old. It’s wise to avoid crib bumpers as well — a recent research review in the Journal of Pediatrics found that the suffocation risk of bumper pads outweighed their benefits.
Avoid Changing-Table Dangers
Store baby powder, lotion, alcohol-based hand gel, and other supplies in a drawer or on a shelf beyond your baby’s reach. They’re more dangerous than you might think — ingesting cosmetics and personal-care products is the most common form of poisoning in kids under age 6, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. Another surprising hazard: assuming that the table’s safety strap is fail-safe. “Kids can wiggle out of it and fall when you’re not looking. Look for a changing table with a guardrail and keep diapering supplies within reach but beyond your child’s reach.
Safely store disposable diapers
If you use disposable diapers, keep them out of your baby’s reach and cover them with clothing when he or she is wearing them. A child can suffocate if they tear off pieces of the plastic liner and eat them.
Baby powders containing talcum can harm your baby’s lungs if they’re inhaled.
Prevent Furniture Tip-Overs
Use braces or anchors to secure tall or heavy pieces of furniture to the wall, no matter how stable they seem to be — the results could be deadly if they topple over onto your baby. Putting anything heavy on top of a dresser (such as a TV) just adds to the danger. Install safety latches on low drawers so your child won’t be able to open them and use them as “stairs” for climbing.