When Your Baby Begins to Explore

Kitchens and Bathrooms

  • 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 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 away from the edge of the stove.
  • 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.
  • Use latches or locks on refrigerators, microwave ovens, dishwashers, compactors, washers and dryers.
  • Use padlocks on freezers to prevent your 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 your 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.



  • 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.
  • Gates installed at the top of the staircase should be mounted to the wall or guardrails. Children have pushed tension gates over and fallen down stairs.
  • 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 your child from falling and getting stuck.
  • When your child climbs steps, show them how to crawl backwards down the steps to prevent falls.

*Gates made before 1985 DO NOT meet safety standards and are hazardous.



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


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.
  • Hide electrical cords and extension cords with cord covers or wide electrical tape.
  • Avoid dangling electrical cords by using cord-shortening devices.



  • 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 your child from wandering outside.
  • Consider installing alarm bars that sound when your child opens windows and sliding glass doors.
  • Do not place furniture close to windows.
  • Understand that window screens will not prevent a fall.



  • Watch your child 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 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.  Remove heavy and/or unstable furniture from your home environment, or use furniture straps or brackets to secure it to wall studs.
  • Place televisions on sturdy stands and as close to the back of the stands as possible.


VCRs and DVDs

Use child-proofing locks on VCRs, DVDs, and other electronic equipment to keep your child’s fingers from being pinched or caught.


Peeling Paint

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.

For more information about lead poisoning and inspection, visit Multnomah County Health Department’s Lead Poisoning Prevention program at www.leadline.org.



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


Bed Guardrails

Use a guardrail for your child’s bed after they have outgrown their crib. Your child should be moved to a bed when they learn to climb out of their crib or exceed 35 inches in height.




  • 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.



  • Always supervise your child when they are around pets.
  • Avoid strange, sick or injured animals.
  • Keep pet dishes out of your child’s reach.
  • For more information about preventing dog bites, visit our Dog Safety page.


For more information:

503 418-5666


Doernbecher Children's Hospital Lobby
700 SW Campus Drive Portland, OR 97239


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