When Your Baby Is Home

From the time you bring your child home from the hospital, your baby’s care and safety depends entirely on you. Even in the first few months, there are many potential hazards in the home.

Whether it’s feeding time, changing time, playtime or bedtime, the safety guidelines in this section will help you give your child the safest care.

Bath Time

If the proper precautions are not taken, bath time can lead to serious injuries including burns and drowning. Be safe by following these recommendations:

  • Set the water temperature in the home no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Always test the temperature of the bath water with your elbow before placing your baby into the tub. The temperature should be pleasantly warm. Bathtub thermometers are also available to test water temperature.
  • Never add water to a tub while your baby is in it. If you need to add more water, remove the baby first. Be sure to test the water again before placing the baby back in the tub.
  • When bathing infants, cradle the child in one arm and use the free hand to wash the baby.
  • Use a bath mat or a towel in the base of a bathtub to help prevent the baby from sliding.
  • Keep the area free of appliances that could fall into the tub.
  • Use faucet covers and bath cushions that attach to the sides of a bathtub to protect your baby from bumps and bruises.
  • Never leave a baby alone in a bath (or near any water such as a bucket or toilet) for any reason or for any amount of time. A child can drown in less than 1 inch of water.

View interactive bath safety tips from the Family Education Network.

Baby Carriers

While a baby carrier can be a big help to parents, it also can cause serious injuries if the child accidentally falls out. Here are a few tips to help avoid injury.

  • Always secure a child in a baby carrier with the safety strap.
  • Watch your baby carefully when other children or animals are present.
  • Never use a baby carrier as a car seat.
  • The AAP recommends when using infant slings for carrying, frequently make sure that the infant's head is up and above the fabric, the face is visible, and the nose and mouth are clear of anything that could block air flow including your body or the carrier.

More tips on baby carrier safety can be found here.

Crib Safety and Bedtime

In addition to the crib safety tips already mentioned in the Before You Bring Your Baby Home section, it’s a good idea to remember the following.

  • Infants should be alone, on their back, and in a crib with a firm mattress and tight sheet every time they sleep. Do not use bumper pads, blankets, or pillows.
  • Always keep crib rails up when a child is in a crib. Make sure the side latches are holding securely.
  • Never tie or harness your baby in her crib.
  • Lower the crib mattress as your baby grows and before she is able to pull herself up.
  • Do not put pillows, stuffed animals or thick blankets in the crib. A child can suffocate on a pillow or stuffed animal or use them as steps to climb out.
  • Do not use plastic mattress pads. The plastic can cling to her face and cause suffocation.
  • Never allow your baby to rest or sleep on a waterbed. A waterbed mattress against a child’s face can cause suffocation.
  • A child should be moved to a bed when she learns to climb out of her crib or is 32 inches tall. Use guardrails on your child’s bed to prevent falls.
  • Children under 7 should not be permitted to sleep or play on the top bunk of bunk beds.
  • Guardrails on beds should be 3 1/2 inches apart or less to prevent a child from getting stuck.

Portable crib safety

Many of the same recommendations for crib safety apply to portable cribs; however, you should also keep the following in mind when using a portable crib.

  • Ensure that the mesh fabric sides are intact. Inspect the fabric frequently for tears.
  • The thickness of a mattress pad in a portable crib should not exceed 1 inch.
  • Do not use an additional mattress or padding. Infants can get tangled up in extra padding and suffocate.
  • Never leave an infant in a crib that has a side folded down. The child could roll into the space between the mattress and the mesh and become trapped.
  • Make sure the latches on the crib are in place and locked to prevent the crib from collapsing.
  • There should not be any screws, rivets, wing nuts, etc., sticking out of the crib.

Crib monitors

A crib monitor provides added safety and comfort when your baby is napping or sleeping. Use these general guidelines for crib monitors.

  • Use a safety-tested product.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use and maintenance, and keep the instructions for future use.
  • Test batteries regularly.
  • Keep the monitor out of your baby’s reach.

Changing Tables

Each year, thousands of children receive serious injuries to the head and internal organs from falling off changing tables. Remember that some babies can roll over when they are only a few weeks old. To protect your baby from serious injury, never use a changing table, sofa, or bed unless the following precautions are taken.

  • Keep one hand on the baby at all times.
  • Never leave a child alone on a changing table, sofa, or bed.
  • A safe alternative to a changing table, sofa or bed is to change the baby on a changing pad or receiving blanket on a clean and comfortable floor.
  • Baby powders, oils, and lotions can cause illness if swallowed. Do not store these items on a changing table or within a child’s reach.
  • Do not shake baby powder near a child’s face since it’s harmful for a baby to breathe in the fine particles of powder. It’s best to shake powder into your hand and then rub it onto your baby.

High Chairs, Playpens, Strollers, and Swings

High chairs, playpens, strollers, and baby swings are never a substitute for an adult’s close supervision. Use the guidelines below for safe use:

  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for assembly, use and maintenance.
  • Always secure a baby in a high chair, stroller or baby swing with the safety strap.
  • Don’t substitute a playpen for a crib. A crib’s built-in safety features help protect a baby from injury while sleeping.


Medical experts do not recommend the use of walkers. Injuries as serious as skull fractures, concussions and broken limbs can occur if the walker tips over or if the baby falls down a staircase. However, if you do use a walker, please be sure to use the following guidelines.

  • Close and lock doors to stairways and block staircases with gates. Explain to older children that leaving doors open is not safe when a baby is in a walker.
  • Use walkers only on smooth surfaces. Edges of carpets, throw rugs and raised thresholds can cause a walker to tip over.
  • Never leave a child alone in a walker.
  • In a walker, a baby may be able to reach more items in the room and may move around faster. Constant supervision is essential.

Feeding Your Baby

Your baby depends on you for the nutrition she needs to grow. There are a number of safety concerns associated with feeding that you should remember.

  • Nursing people: avoid alcohol and drugs, except medications prescribed to you by a physician. Inform your physician that you are breast-feeding before a medication is prescribed.
  • Don’t use a microwave oven to heat a bottle. The contents of the bottle could be hotter than the bottle itself, and the buildup of steam inside a bottle could cause it to burst. Use a pot of hot water or pour hot tap water over the bottle instead.
  • After warming, shake the bottle and test the temperature of the bottle’s contents by squeezing some onto the inside of your wrist. The contents should feel comfortably warm.
  • Never leave a baby alone with a bottle propped in her mouth.
  • Never eat, drink, carry or prepare hot foods or beverages while holding a baby.

Keep hot foods and drinks away from the edges of tables and counter tops.

Pacifier Safety Tips

If using a pacifier, here are safety guidelines to keep in mind.

  • The guard or shield on a pacifier should be large enough to prevent your baby from putting the entire pacifier into his mouth.
  • Check the parts of the pacifier frequently to make sure that they will not come apart.
  • Replace pacifiers often.
  • Never hang a pacifier on a cord around a baby’s neck or attach it to your baby’s clothing with a clip and cord.
  • Never substitute the lid and nipple of a bottle for a pacifier.

Playtime Safety for Your Baby

For children under the age of 6 months, playtime is about discovery. Since children at this age tend to place objects in their mouths, the risk of choking and suffocation is great. Keep play areas clean, and vacuum frequently to make sure smaller toys and toy parts are not within reach.

To obtain product safety information, contact the Consumer Product Safety Commission at 1-800-638-2772 or visit their website. In addition to following CPSC recommendations, you should avoid the following toys:

  • Crib gyms and mobiles that hang low in the crib.
  • Toys with small, removable parts that can be pulled off and swallowed.
  • Stuffed animals and dolls with buttons instead of patches for eyes.
  • Toys with long handles that can be inserted in the mouth or poked in an eye.
  • Pull toys with long cords that can become tangled around a child’s head or neck.
  • Toys made of brittle materials or those that have sharp edges.

First Aid Emergencies

In case of emergencies, keep first-aid kits and flashlights handy and post emergency numbers on or near telephones.

Visit the Treating Common Injuries section of our site for more information.

Tripping and Falling

Keep pathways and stairways free of toys, shoes and other objects. Don’t risk harming a baby by carrying too much at one time. Make additional trips if necessary.

Paint Fumes and Remodeling Debris

Keep a child out of a room that is being painted, has just been painted or contains furniture that has just been painted. Fumes from paint are harmful to young children. Also, remove a child from a room before starting household repairs or remodeling. The debris caused by the work can cause injury.


For the health of your baby, your family and yourself, avoid smoking. If you choose to smoke, don’t do so near a baby or any other family member. Secondhand smoke is dangerous to all who breathe it. Another reason to never hold a baby while smoking is to avoid accidental burning.