A small baby plays with interlocking blocks on the floor, showcasing why you need to baby proof your home

There’s a lot to think about when you’re getting ready to welcome a new addition into your family — and into your space. Be sure to check these items off your to-do list as you prepare your home for life with a little one.

Before your baby is born

Chances are you won’t have much time to spend thinking about home maintenance once baby arrives. Do yourself a favour and make sure your home’s key safety features are up and running before you say “welcome home.”

  1. Inspect your carbon monoxide detector. Maintaining a working carbon monoxide detector is the first (and the most important) step you can take towards protecting your family from carbon monoxide poisoning.
  2. Test your smoke detectors. Test all of your smoke detectors and identify spaces where you could install additional units. Pay special attention to sleeping areas, and make sure you have smoke detectors on each level of your home.
  3. Think about security. If you’ve been meaning to install a home security system but haven’t decided which kind of system is right for you, learn about the difference between self-monitored and company-monitored security systems and consider installing one before your little one arrives. Installing a security system may even qualify you for a discount on home insurance.

Before your baby learns to crawl

Don’t find yourself scrambling to make your space baby-safe when your little one has already started crawling around. Take some simple steps ahead of time instead.

  1. Lock up cupboards and drawers. Once your little one learns to crawl, it’s only a matter of time before they start opening every drawer and cupboard door they can get their hands on. Be sure to securely lock any drawers or cupboards that contain items that could be harmful, like cleaning products, sharp objects, and medications. Look out for choking hazards, too.

    Tip: If you can fit an object inside a toilet paper tube, it could become a choking hazard for a baby. There are exceptions to this rule, but it’s a good place to start.
  2. Cover all electrical outlets. Tiny fingers love tiny spaces — especially electrical outlets. Be sure to purchase outlet covers that are difficult to remove and large enough that they won’t be a choking hazard. Always replace an outlet cover as soon as you’re finished using the outlet.
  3. Set up baby gates. Protect your crawling tot from stairways and other potentially harmful areas by setting up durable baby gates that can’t easily be climbed or pushed over.
  4. Anchor your furniture. When your little one is trying to turn their crawl into a walk, they’ll likely grab onto whatever they can reach, including bookshelves, TVs, and other heavy furniture. Be sure to secure all furniture to the wall using heavy-duty furniture anchors to make sure it can’t fall down when grabbed.
  5. Cover the corners. Use something soft (or buy foam edge covers) to cover sharp corners on any furniture in your little crawler’s reach.
  6. Take a baby’s-eye-view of your home. Get down on your hands and knees and take a look around. You might be surprised to find that you missed a power outlet, an unlocked drawer, or a sharp coffee table corner.

Before your baby learns to walk

Don’t skip these steps as your little one gears up to take their first steps.

  1. Keep your water cool. Consider setting the thermostat on your water heater to 50°C or lower to prevent burns in case your little one gets their hands on a faucet.
  2. Secure the doors. Doorknobs can be tempting to little hands, especially when the room on the other side is off-limits. Think about using child-proof doorknob covers to keep your tot out of areas where they shouldn’t play, like your workshop, the garage, the laundry room, the bathroom, and the basement.
  3. Keep counters and tables clutter-free. As your little one gets bigger, they may be able to reach up and touch (or grab) whatever’s on your kitchen counter, your bathroom vanity, and any tables around your home. Keep these surfaces clutter-free to prevent your not-so-little one from getting their hands on something that could be harmful or make a mess.

These are just a few of the steps you’ll need to take to prepare your home for a new family member. If you’re unsure what else needs to be done, the Government of Canada’s website is a good place to continue with your research, or you could consider consulting a professional childproofing specialist.

If it’s been a while since you’ve reviewed your home insurance policy, a major life change (like welcoming a little one into your home!) is a good reminder to update your emergency preparedness plan and connect with your group’s home insurance broker to make sure you have the coverage you need.

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