Whether you’re a first-time parent or already have a growing family, preparing for a new baby can feel overwhelming. However, creating a safe, comfortable, and welcoming environment for your newborn doesn’t have to be. Ease into parenthood — make these seven home upgrades before your due date.
1. Test for Toxins.
Environmental toxins may be lurking in your home without your knowledge, and many are harmful to your baby’s health — not to mention your own during and after pregnancy. Robert Weitz, found of RTK Environmental Group, recommends that parents test for mold, lead, radon, and asbestos as well as water, air, and soil quality.
Infants in homes with mold are three times more likely to develop asthma by age seven, while lead poisoning can lead to a wide range of developmental issues. If tests reveal any contamination, address the problem immediately.
2. Check Your Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Detectors.
Carbon monoxide is often called the “silent killer” because you can’t see, smell, or hear it — and exposure to this toxic gas lands more than 20,000 people in the emergency room each year. Both CO and smoke can quickly make you and your family sick without you realizing it, so ensure you have detectors installed and working throughout your home. Place at least one on every floor — including close to your baby’s bedroom. Better yet, integrate these sensors into a monitored home security system that will alert emergency personnel when a safety threat is detected.
3. Deep Clean.
When you have a newborn, the last thing you’ll have time for is scrubbing sinks and mopping floors. Look out for your future self and deep clean your house before you deliver, or hire someone else to do it for you — and don’t be afraid to get professional help even after your baby is born.
“As a new parent, you’ll be adjusting to a lot of new things in your life which can be stressful,” says Nathania Lozada, mom to a 5-month-old son in Berkeley, CA. “Coming home to a pristine home will give you one less thing to worry about.”
4. Install a Baby Monitor.
Baby monitors are the ideal tool for keeping an eye and ear on your infant from afar. Wireless and WiFi-enabled monitors come with features like tracking your baby’s movement in his or her crib, smartphone alerts, and two-way talk. If you go with a corded monitor, keep it well out of your baby’s reach — at least three feet away from cribs, bassinets, and play areas.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission reported seven deaths and three near-strangulations related to cords between 2002 and 2012, so although it’s not a common occurrence, it’s also not a risk worth taking. The same thing applies to window blinds and any electronic cords around your home.
5. Set Up Baby Gates.
This one may not seem as critical before your baby is mobile, but safety gates are also helpful for keeping pets and older children contained in — or out of — certain areas of your home when your newborn needs space. Once baby starts crawling, you’ll want high-quality gates that screw into walls, stairwells, or doorways (versus pressure-mounted alternatives) to prevent falls and unwanted movement. Install safety gates before your due date so you get used to how they work and can create a habit of closing them behind you.
6. Buy a Newborn Bath Tub.
Drowning is the leading cause of death among children ages 1-4 (aside from birth defects), and kids can drown in as little as 1 inch of water. Make bath time safe and fun — bathe your baby in a newborn-specific tub that fits in your sink, on your counter, or sits in your regular tub, and never leave them unattended around water, even if they are strapped in.
7. Baby-Proof Everything.
Many spaces and items in your home can turn into safety hazards for your little one, especially once they are mobile. Ensure you take care of the basics — outlet covers, cabinet locks, putting all cleaning products well out of reach — as well as toilet locks, knob covers for your stove, window guards, and corner pads for any sharp tables and dressers.
A little bit of preparation provides a lot of peace of mind when it comes to your growing family. You’ve got this!