How-To Guide to Baby Safety at Home

Updated on August 28, 2018
kate stroud profile image

Kate is a mother of two boys and also manages a nanny business in the Sacramento area of California.


Last week, while I took two stupid minutes to get myself dressed, my toddlers ended up dropping a handful of mini nail polish bottles on the tile floor of the master bath. A mess of oozing pinks and reds, shattered glass and the distinct aroma of a nail parlor flashed before me as I screamed for NO.ONE.TO.MOVE.

Thanks to some swift lifting, a few rolls of toilet paper and my Hoover, all turned out okay and no one got cut. But it was a good reminder that when your little ones start moving and grooving, it's time baby/toddler proof. I already knew to properly cover the outlets, make sure that the blind strings are tacked up away from my kids' reach and to block off the kitchen when I'm cooking. But I never really took much thought to hiding away my pretty little glass bottles of nail polish.

I guess I still have a lot to learn. Here's a list of ten common household dangers to curious babies and toddlers for you and I and the rest of us to double-check.

10 Things in Your House to Baby Proof

10 Things to Keep Out of Your Baby's Reach

1. Lead Paint
2. Button Batteries
3. Toothpaste
4. House Plants
5. Glass
6. Nail Polish Remover
7. Pesticides
8. Magnets
9. Vitamins
10. Essential Oils
If you're worried that your baby or child has been exposed to any toxins call the Poison Control Center 24/7 at (800) 222 - 1222 or go directly to an emergency room.

1. Lead Paint

Obviously your kid isn't going to be eating household paint but if your teething babe has been gnawing on the window sill while she watches the world go by outside and your house was built in 1978 or before then there's a pretty good possibility that there's a layer or two of lead-based paint in there somewhere. When ingested, especially on a regular basis, lead can have some scary effects on your baby's health including organ damage.

Talk to your pediatrician about how to prevent lead poisoning and avoid vintage toys, cribs and bassinets which also could contain lead paint since it wasn't outlawed until 1978.

2. Button Batteries

All of the blinking and beeping toys drive me crazy after a while, but what's most alarming about this is the ones that contain button batteries. While all batteries can be dangerous to babies and kids, button batteries are especially dangerous in that they're tiny and flat like a coin and easy to pop in a tiny mouth without much notice. When ingested, these batteries have been known to leak acid and damage the esophagus, leading to potentially fatal problems.

I try to avoid any toys with button batteries and to always make sure that my kids' toys that do take batteries have a safe, secure and totally unbroken backing that requires an adult and a screwdriver to open up.

3. Toothpaste

Oh man. If I don't watch my tots while they brush their teeth they'll just suck all of the sweet strawberry flavored toothpaste off the tooth brush and hand it back without scrubbing. It's true, toothpaste, especially the flavors for babies and toddlers don't taste awful, and if you're a small bean they might even be preferable to those goofy star shaped puffs all the cool moms keep in their cup holder.

But most toothpaste contains fluoride. According to, larger than recommended doses of fluoride can lead to gastrointestinal problems. Keep your toothpaste and your baby's toothpaste in a high-up cabinet in the bathroom, out of reach of snacky little hands.

4. House Plants

I know, you're trying to develop a West Elm in your very own house but a number of popular plants can be dangerous if eaten, even if they are in a meticulously styled gold color blocked planter.

Some of the plants in your home that can be poisonous include:

  • Oleander

  • Caladium

  • Peace Lily

  • Pothos

  • Dieffenbachia

  • Lily

  • Mother-In-Law's Tongue

If you need to create a jungle in your house, look for non-toxic alternatives like a good ol' Boston fern!

5. Glass

Totally obvious, I know. Or is it? Remember my little anecdote about the nail polish in my master bath. Whoops. Lesson learned. Invest in bathroom storage that can be mounted on the wall, above your tot's reach and keep perfume bottles, nail polish bottles, and any other cosmetics that come in glass containers up there.

Same goes for Pyrex in the kitchen and glass in picture frames which I ended up having to remove from all of my family photos that were within baby's reach. It looks kind of meh, but at least I know that the worst that's going to happen if one of my kids drops a frame is cracked wood frame and not shattered glass all over the floor.

The same goes for "unshatterable" decor and plastics like those Christmas ornaments made of plastic. My kid sat on one of those one holiday season and long story short, he's scarred for life. Keep your decor soft, fuzzy and super baby-safe.

Put all of the glass, even those seemingly harmless little bottles of nail polish up and away from your baby's curious reach.
Put all of the glass, even those seemingly harmless little bottles of nail polish up and away from your baby's curious reach. | Source

6. Nail Polish Remover

All you really need to do to know that nail polish remover isn't the safest substance in your home is to take a whiff of it. But your baby doesn't know that. Keep those bottles up and away from little hands and out of her sweet little eyes, nose and throat.

7. Pesticides

Keep chemical and ant traps away from your baby by only using them outside your house or in the garage - two places your baby probably isn't going to be wandering around alone. If you're dealing with an ant infestation inside your house, say, in your kitchen, try filling a spray bottle halfway with white vinegar and the other half with warm water. Twist on the cap, give it a shake and spray down the perimeter of your kitchen. It won't smell that great, but it's a safer alternative to leaving your curious baby vulnerable to chemical ant poisons.

8. Magnets

Magnets are made to attract to each other. If this attraction happens inside the body it can obstruct organ function and can cause, among other things, perforation, ischemia, and sepsis.

Skip the cute refrigerator magnets and resign yourself to that ugly flat, rectangle one your pizza delivery driver handed you with your last order until your baby is older.

9. Vitamins

You know that saying, "too much of a good thing..."

This applies to vitamins. A little go a long way and in a tiny body, there's enough to be found in breast milk, formula and the occasional piece of broccoli.

Keep your vitamins where you keep your medicine (hopefully locked up high and away in your bathroom or bedroom).

10. Essential Oils

Yeah, I messed up on this one too, when I noticed one evening last week that my two year old smelled especially dreamy, having stuck a bottle of my uncapped night time essential oil blend in his mouth. He popped it right back out once he'd had a taste of the bitter concoction but it freaked me out and served as a reminder that, although essential oils seem to be the coconut oil of 2018, they're not safe unless used in a really specific way.

Keep your oily collection on a high shelf or even in a kitchen cabinet out of reach and make sure to cap and replace the bottles when you're done filling your diffusers. If ingested or even inhaled in too high of a potency, many oils, which, though derived from herbs and plants, are extremely toxic.

You might think of essential oils as a safe alternative to basically everything else in your house, but many oils are toxic to babies, especially in large doses or if not mixed to the proper dilution.
You might think of essential oils as a safe alternative to basically everything else in your house, but many oils are toxic to babies, especially in large doses or if not mixed to the proper dilution. | Source

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Kate Stroud


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