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One of a parent's worst nightmares is his or her child being hurt due to negligence. Yet many parents fail to take simple babyproofing steps that could mean the difference between a safe or dangerous home for their children. Step by step, room by room, you can babyproof your house in very little time, with very little financial outlay.

Baby's Bedroom
A baby spends a lot of time in his bedroom; this should be the first room you babyproof. First, check all the outlets. If they are not currently in use, put plug protectors on them (either the singles that you insert into the plug, or the covers that go over both plugs). Now follow the cords. How easy is it for the baby to pull or chew on them? Either bury the cords behind furniture, use a cord winder to keep the cord out of the way, or use heavy duty tape to affix the cords to the wall (do not use plain masking tape as this poses a choking hazard).

Next, check to make sure none of the furniture can tilt forward if it is pulled on or a lower drawer is pulled out. If anything is unbalanced, affix it to the wall with two bolts or adhesive.

Now check the crib. There should be nothing in a baby's crib at night but the baby. Remove all stuffed animals, blankets, and comforters, as they pose a SIDS danger. Keep mobiles up out of reach. Make sure the baby is unable to climb or fall out of the crib.

Finally, check for little things. Are there any nails or screws sticking out? Can the baby get into the dirty diapers? Where do you store Desitin or other non-edible supplies?

You can do a similar check to the other bedrooms in the house.

The Living/ Family Room
Depending on which room your family uses more often, you will probably want to babyproof the living room or family room next, as this is where the family as a whole spends a lot of time. Check all the outlets, cords, and furniture like you did in the baby's room. Also check for heavy books or knick knacks that the baby can pull down. If possible, move these items out of reach until the baby learns "no". Knick knacks you cannot move you can affix to the surface with simple, two-sided velcro or adhesive.

Check your coffee table and other furniture. Are the edges rounded or sharp? If they're sharp, you will probably want to provide a bumper to prevent nasty cuts and bruises. You can buy a rubberized bumper at most baby stores, or you can make one out of fabric and stuffing if you're a crafty type. Neither method is expensive.

If your television/ VCR/ DVD player/ stereo is in this room, you may wish to babyproof it to protect IT from your baby. You can buy a clear acrylic protector for the area where the buttons are, or you can simply buy a wedge of acrylic and fit it yourself. Again, neither method is expensive.

Check the cords on the drapes or shutters. If they are within baby's reach, use either a cord winder or a hook to keep them out of reach, as this poses a significant choking hazard.

Finally, for one of the more forgotten things, check for toxic items. Your household plants, very likely, may be toxic. The paint on the walls might be toxic. Even the cleaning solvent you use on your carpet may be dangerous if your baby gets enough into his mouth. Check all the warning lables.

The Bathroom
The bathroom is a dangerous place at any age. As always, check to make sure all sockets are inaccessible. Also, check to make sure faucets are tight and difficult for a baby to turn on. You don't want hot water scalding him.

Next, check to make sure all medicines are completely out of reach or in a locked cabinet. Child locks are not sufficient in this case. You'll also want to move spare razor blades, scissors, needles and pins, and anything else that your baby can cut himself with.

Check your toiletries. Many hairsprays, shampoos, and soaps are actually toxic. Keep these out of the reach of your baby.

You may want a lock or guard for the toilet bowl to keep baby from playing inside. Although drinking the water in the bowl will generally not kill a baby, falling headfirst into the bowl might drown him.

Finally, if you keep your catbox in the bathroom, keep your baby out by means of a gate or by cutting a catdoor into the bathroom door (although some babies can squeeze through this small space).

The Kitchen
Although baby should be kept out of the kitchen as much as possible, eventually he will figure out that it's a fun place to play. As always, block outlets from the reach of his fingers and get cords up out of reach. You may also wish to use child-locks on some of the cabinets.

Move all dangerous foods and spices to higher shelves in the pantry (although a climbing baby can often still reach them). Put knives up high and back out of reach. Keep sharp utensils in the highest drawer and baby lock it. Move any cleaning supplies to a high cabinet or keep them in the garage, if possible.

You may wish to invest in a stove guard, which keeps the baby from reaching the pots and pans (and flame) on the stove. Also, if you have a floor-seated oven, you may wish to get a lock to keep your child from opening the oven door.

Finally, you may wish to provide baby with his own drawer in the kitchen. Make sure he knows that this is HIS area and he is less likely to play in YOUR area.

The Stairs
Before you think your baby can try climbing the stairs (as soon as he begins to crawl or roll with ease), get a gate for the stairs. If you can't afford a gate, you can block the stairway with a chair or even a flat, smooth piece of wood or plastic, but make sure it's anchored in some way so the baby can't pull it over on himself. If your baby spends any time upstairs, gate the top of the stairs as well.

Outside
Check your yard for animal waste, sharp items, prickly weeds, and deadly plants. Never leave a baby alone while outside, even for a moment.

Other Things to Note
Babyproofing is a daily job. Before you put your child down in a room to play, take a quick glance around. Did someone leave change sitting on the tabletop? Was an outlet used that didn't get it's plug replaced? Has a plant grown to where it now trails down within reach of your baby's curious fingers?

It's impossible (and stifling) to completely protect your child from life's scrapes and bruises, but you can do your best to keep him away from the major ones. With a little planning and a sharp eye, your baby can live in a safe home without unduly disturbing the regular pattern of everyone else's lives.