Last Updated on April 27, 2021
Electrical cords and outlets are one of the leading causes of injury to children in the home. This makes it so important to take precautions to keep your baby safe around them. Electrical cords in the home are responsible for an estimated 3,300 injuries to children under the age of 5 each year. Of these injuries, approximately one-third require medical attention.
However, there are smart ways to practice good electrical safety and keep your baby away from dangerous electrical cords and outlets. We’ll cover what to look out for and how to baby proof cords and electrical outlets to keep your child safe.
Risks of Electrical Cords and Outlets to Babies
Cords and electrical outlets are found virtually everywhere in most households. Many new parents haven’t thought about how to properly secure or hide them from their little one by the time they arrive.
You may have a couple months before they can really move and get into anything, but right now is when you should be baby proofing these life-threatening dangers.
Why cords are dangerous for babies
The main danger with electrical cords is of course the potential for choking if the cord wraps around the baby’s neck. However, long cords also make it very easy for babies to pull whatever they’re attached to down onto themselves. It doesn’t take much strength to yank a lamp off a table.
Also, if it’s an older cord that you’ve used for many years, it’s possible the outside casing of the cord could be splitting open. If this occurs, your baby could receive a shock from the electricity running through partially exposed wires.
Why electrical outlets are dangerous for babies
Children are naturally curious and have a habit of sticking their fingers and other small objects into anything they see. As beautiful as this curiosity can be, it can lead to serious accidents.
An electrical outlet can cause severe electrocution if the baby puts their wet fingers or metal objects into the outlets. All it takes is forgetting you left a butter knife or fork laying on an easy to reach table.
Between 2001 to 2010, there were an estimated 20,000 injuries to children that were caused by electrical outlets.
That’s roughly 2,000 outlet related accidents per year that may have been preventable, but ultimately resulted in burns, electrocution, or worse.
Your baby’s mind is always trying to figure out the world around them. Covering every electrical outlet or replacing them with low cost tamper resistant outlets means there’s one less thing for you to worry about.
Steps to Baby Proofing Outlets and Cords Around the Home
1. Make sure all outlets are covered
Let’s start with the basics. All outlets in the home should always be covered by a safety plate so your baby won’t be able to insert objects into the outlet wiring. If you have any outlets that don’t have wall plates, or if they’re old and flimsy, purchase sturdy plastic plates and also outlet covers.
Also, if you recently painted the nursery or are planning to soon, always double check to make sure no plates were accidentally removed or not re-installed correctly.
2. Install GFCI Outlets to reduce ongoing electric shock
Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlets help reduce the chance of severe electrocution injuries. When a surge is detected, the outlets stop the flow of electricity going to the outlet to prevent a continuous electric shock from occurring.
You will commonly find GFCI outlets in the bathroom and kitchen where the risk of shock is greater due to water. These have a red “reset” and black “test” button in between the two receptacles.
While they are slightly more expensive, you can invest in putting these outlets in more places around the home.
3. Baby proof occupied outlets and power cords
Baby proofing occupied electrical outlets and power cords may seem excessive, but it can save your child from serious injury. The best way to block off a used outlet is with something large like an end table to entirely prevent your baby from accessing any cords.
However, you can also install an outlet cord cover to redirect cords and completely block access to the outlet. These act as a cord shortener by hiding extra cord wrapped up inside the enclosure.
Additionally, you can find duct cord covers or strips that hide the cable behind a strip of plastic that often blends in with the wall. Duct cord covers are typically used to hide HDMI and power cords running to TVs, but they work great at concealing any type of long cords.
4. Baby proof power strips or bars
The most effective way to protect your baby from a power strip is to keep it securely tucked away out of sight. Put it behind a table or couch that would be very difficult for the baby to reach.
You should also only be using tamper resistant strips that seal off each outlet that is unoccupied.
The other option is to buy a power strip cover to completely hide it. Power strip covers are plastic devices that enclose the entire power strip with only small slots for the cables.
To conceal the cords coming from the power strips, you can use a duct cord cover that can run along the wall.
Types of Electrical Outlet Covers
There are a few options when it comes to baby proofing your electrical outlets. The kind of outlet cover you need depends on where the outlets are located and whether they are partially blocked by furniture.
1. Electrical Outlet Covers or Plugs
If you have a standard outlet, you’ll want to purchase a low cost pack of outlet plugs. Plastic outlet covers are easy to install and simply plug into the slots to block your little one from being able to stick their finger or object into the outlets. You can quickly remove an outlet cover every time you need to vacuum or plug in a new electronic device.
2. Tamper Resistant Receptacles
Electrical tamper-resistant receptacles are designed to keep tiny fingers from being pinched by a live electrical current. These child-safe outlets have a recessed cover plate and a spring loaded interior plate that covers the live electrical contacts when the outlet is not in use.
3. Outlet Cord Covers
This safety item works by enclosing the entire outlet, including plugged in cords, in a small box. They can often work as a cord shortener by wrapping the extra cordage around itself to reduce potential suffocation.
How to baby proof electrical outlets while traveling
It can be hard to completely baby proof when you’re traveling and staying at a hotel or Airbnb. Most places are decorated with adults in mind and often have a lot of extension cords and cables all around the rooms.
Luckily, there are some easy things you can do to child proof electrical outlets and cords when you’re on the go.
First, bring a bag of cheap plastic outlet plugs to seal off unused outlets.
The next thing to do is to rearrange furniture the best you can to block off access to cords and other rooms.
Finally, you can bring a small playard to keep the baby corralled and away from dangerous areas in your temporary vacation home.
Keep baby monitor cords away from the crib
An area you may not think about as a strangulation risk is the nursery. However, baby monitors often come with long cords that dangle from wherever you have the camera mounted.
If the baby monitor cord is too close to the crib, infants may be able to grab the cord and accidentally wrap it around their necks. To keep your child safe, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that you keep the cords out of reach and use a monitor with no cords or moveable camera.
How do you baby proof a coaxial outlet
Coaxial outlets are an indispensable part of a home since they bring TV and internet. In most homes you’ll find them in the place where you need them the most: the living room.
When you have young children, this is likely where they’ll be spending the most time during the first few months. When it comes to coaxial or regular outlets, the best way to eliminate or minimize the danger is to make the outlet and cords harder for your kids to access.
This means ensuring they are located and tucked behind a sturdy TV stand or table. While the electrocution risk isn’t high, you can also use outlet covers or a cord shortener to ensure your little one is safe.
Teach your kids electrical safety
Toddlers have an incredible fascination with small, easy to grasp objects that pop out. Outlets, cords, and plugs seem to draw their attention since they’re often right at eye level for them.
Depending on how much your toddler can understand, it’s best to have a chat by putting the danger of plugs and electricity in simple language. Reinforce any time they get near it that it can cause a “very bad ouchy” or they can get “hurt bad”. Children are never too young to learn about electrical safety.
Whether you’re getting the home ready for your first baby or planning a trip, electrical safety should be top of mind. You should plan to install a cord cover or outlet plug on every electrical outlet your baby may come in contact with.
You can pick up a bulk pack of outlet plugs for a cheap and effective way to keep your little one safe.