When Your Baby Begins to Explore Safety Tips

Injury Prevention When Your Baby Begins to Explore crawl cartoon

12 months to 3 years old

As your baby begins to crawl, climb, or walk, their world expands. Their new independence and mobility raise a different set of safety concerns. Tiny hands can reach for possible dangers and wobbly legs can give way to potential head and body injuries.

Safety devices are available for virtually every room in your home. Routinely check your home for potential dangers and hazards. Crawl on your hands and knees through each room to see where locks, latches, guards, or other safety improvements may be needed. The suggestions in this section can help you protect curious toddlers and preschool age children from hazards throughout your home.

Kitchens and Bathroom Infant Safety

  • Install latches or locks on cabinet drawers and doors containing medicines, poisons and sharp or harmful objects.
  • Use safety caps or lids on bottles and jars containing poisons. Move these items to a high shelf or cupboard for extra insurance.
  • Do not keep food items and poisons stored together. Many food labels and containers often resemble poisonous products.
  • Do not place appliances near sinks, bathtubs, or toilets.
  • Install a stove guard to prevent your child from touching flames or hot burners. Make a habit of turning pot and skillet handles inward and cook on the back burners which are safer and out of reach of children.
  • If a stove has front controls, apply safety covers over the knobs to prevent your child from playing with them. Watch children carefully when you are cooking to prevent burns.
  • Teach children that there is a “3-foot hot zone” around the stove and the microwave to prevent burns from touching hot surfaces or foods.
  • Use latches or locks on refrigerators, microwave ovens, dishwashers, compactors, washers and dryers.
  • Use padlocks on freezers to prevent a child from getting trapped inside and suffocating.
  • Remove doors of refrigerators or freezers when not in use or when discarding.
  • Apply a switch cover to your garbage disposal.
  • Use locks on toilet seats to prevent a child from falling in headfirst and drowning.
  • Keep sharp utensils and appliances out of your child’s reach.
  • Keep all medications, cosmetics, mouthwash, and cleaning products out of reach.
  • Place a rubber mat or rubber strips on the bottom of the bathtub to prevent falls.
  • Never leave a baby or child alone in the bathtub, even for a few seconds.
  • After cleaning the kitchen or bathroom, empty buckets containing water to prevent accidental drowning.

Bed Guardrails

Use a guardrail for your child’s bed after she has outgrown her crib. Your child should be moved to a bed when she learns to climb out of her crib or is 32 inches tall.


Use safety latches or door knob covers on closet doors to prevent your child from becoming trapped inside closets.


Use one-piece, rounded-edge doorstoppers. Doorstoppers with rubber tips can be pulled apart and swallowed.

Electrical Outlets and Cords

  • Use plug protectors, guards and plate covers to prevent your child from sticking their fingers or other objects into electrical outlets. Be sure outlet covers cannot be removed easily.
  • Hide electrical cords and extension cords with cord covers or wide electrical tape.
  • Avoid dangling electrical cords by using cord-shortening devices.


  • Watch children closely when using the fireplace.
  • Use a heavyweight screen to prevent your baby from getting too close to the fire.
  • Cover your hearth’s sharp edges with a fire-resistant hearth cover to protect your child from bumps and bruises.
  • Make sure that your chimney is clean and safe to use. Have it inspected once each year.


  • Apply furniture corner guards and edge cushions to prevent head injuries, bumps and bruises.
  • Fill a chest of drawers from the bottom up when your child begins to climb. This prevents furniture (especially lightweight furniture) from falling over and trapping your child underneath.
  • Place televisions on sturdy stands and as close to the back of the stands as possible.
  • Mount TVs and furniture to the wall, if possible, to avoid tip-overs.

Peeling Paint Chips

Check older homes (those built prior to 1978) for leaded, peeling paint chips. Leaded paint chips, and paint chip dust, if swallowed or inhaled, can cause brain damage or poisoning. Lead paint can be removed from your home using certified contractors. Click here for more information.


  • Always supervise your child when he is around pets.
  • Avoid strange, sick or injured animals.
  • Keep pet dishes out of your child’s reach.
  • Teach your kids to never play rough with animals.
  • For more information about preventing dog bites, visit our Dog Safety page.


  • Keep plants out of your child’s reach. Certain types of plants are poisonous.
  • Familiarize yourself with the names of all the plants and flowers in and around your home. If your child eats part of a plant, you will need to tell the poison center the name of the plant your child has eaten.


For a hazard-free home, don’t use throw rugs. However, if you do, use safety tape or a nontoxic sealant to make rugs slip-proof.


  • Use safety gates at the top and bottom of staircases and in doorways to rooms where your child should not go. Make sure the gates are sturdy. Do not use accordion gates.
  • Cover doorknobs with safety covers to prevent your child from opening doors that lead to staircases.
  • Cover railings on steps, decks and balconies with safety netting to prevent children from falling and getting stuck.
  • When your child climbs steps, show her how to crawl backwards down the steps to prevent falls.


  • Use safety guards to prevent windows from opening four inches or more. The only exception is for windows that are used as a fire escape.
  • If possible, only open windows from the top.
  • Use locks on sliding glass doors to prevent a child from escaping.
  • Install alarm bars that sound when a child is near windows and sliding glass doors.
  • Do not place furniture close to windows.
  • Understand that window screens will not prevent a fall.
  • Do not rely on window screens to withstand a child’s weight and prevent falls. Window screens are meant to keep bugs out, but not to keep children in.