When most people think of making their home safe for their babies, they think of covering hard corners and moving dangerous chemicals out of reach. But did you know windows need to be babyproofed too?
We have plenty of experience with little escape artists, many with skills even Houdini would find impressive. We’ve also learned that over 5,000 children are injured each year falling from windows (1). That number doesn’t even include children injured by glass from broken windows or strangulation by window cords.
This statistic clarifies that window safety should be an essential part of our babyproofing process. So we’ve researched the best and most cost-effective ways to babyproof windows so you can keep your little one safe and avoid risks of injury and even death. Read on to learn more.
- Identify window types: Different windows require different babyproofing methods (awning, casement, hung, and sliding windows).
- Window screens aren’t enough: Screens can be easily broken by a child, so additional safety measures are needed.
- Use window stops and locks: Window stops and locks can prevent windows from opening too far, keeping your child safe.
- Babyproof windowsills and cords: Cover sharp windowsill corners, and keep window cords out of reach to avoid strangulation risks.
- Types of Windows
- Why Window Screens Aren’t Babyproof
- Setting Boundaries With Children
- Decluttering Around Windows
- Babyproofing with Window Locks
- Babyproofing with Window Stops
- Babyproofing With Window Film
- Babyproofing Awning and Casement Windows
- Babyproofing Window Cords
- Babyproofing Windowsills
- Basement Window Safety
- Babyproofing Windows: A Quick Review
Types of Windows
The first step to babyproofing your windows is to figure out what kind of windows you have.
Each window type uses different mechanisms to open and close, so you will need to use different babyproofing methods to make them toddler-friendly.
1. Awning Windows
Awning windows crank open on a hinge to allow the window pane to go inward or outward from the top. Because these windows open at an angle, they allow for great airflow and are easy to clean.
2. Casement Windows
Casement windows, like awning windows, have cranks to open them outward or inward. The difference is that they open from a side hinge instead of from the top.
This window style is less common in homes because, although they are the second most watertight window available, they have more parts to break, and most window A/C units won’t fit in them (2).
3. Hung Windows
Hung windows are one of the most common windows in homes. They come in both single-hung and double-hung options, making them versatile.
Single-hung options have a bottom window that slides up when unlocked. Double-hung windows allow both the top and bottom of the windows to slide up and down when unlocked.
Some single and double-hung windows have mechanisms that allow the top and bottom portions to pull out at an angle. This makes for better airflow as well as makes them easier to clean.
4. Sliding Windows
Sliding windows, sometimes called sliders or gliding windows, are windows that have panels that slide open and closed horizontally.
These windows are often used in homes when the owners want larger windows but don’t want them to be too tall. They are also energy efficient and allow for maximum ventilation.
Why Window Screens Aren’t Babyproof
Since many modern windows are retrofitted with screens to allow airflow while keeping out dirt and debris, you might think window screens are enough to keep your baby from falling through. They aren’t.
Window screens are thin and flimsy. In many cases, your baby pushing against them can be enough to break them. This puts your baby at risk of falling through the window and onto the ground below.
Setting Boundaries With Children
No matter what measures you take to babyproof your windows, it’s important to tell children playing with the windows is not allowed and explain why.
It’s also important to be consistent. If your child climbs up to the window, redirect them every single time. It will be exhausting but will also help them eventually realize that playing with the window is not worth it and is against the rules.
To help you set boundaries with your children, remember to do the following:
- Have a plan: It’s essential to know your boundaries, so you will have answers if your child has questions.
- Keep it simple: Have a short and precise explanation for why you set the boundary.
- Be firm but warm: Tell your children the rules in a firm yet warm manner. It doesn’t take yelling to let your child know that you’re serious. Staying open to conversation may also make your child less defensive about what you’re saying.
- Expect an upset: Your child probably won’t comply with your boundaries the first time — or even the first several times — you lay them out. They want to do what they want, and you’re telling them no. They will probably get upset, but that’s OK. Plan for this so you can handle it without getting frustrated.
Decluttering Around Windows
Even if your window is high enough you think your baby can’t reach it, don’t ignore the items you have around it — they too can cause safety hazards.
- Relocate: Move items such as furniture, toys, and baskets away from windows. These can be used as ladders for little ones to climb on.
- Eliminate temptation: Babyproofing doesn’t stop there. Remember to put away anything stackable, such as books your baby can climb on.
- Remove hazards: Put away anything like balls, marbles, or hard toys that can be thrown at and break your windows.
Babyproofing with Window Locks
This suggestion might seem simple, but sometimes even the simplest solutions can make a big difference. Many window locks take a bit of strength to open — at least a bit more than your average toddler has.
If you want to go a step further, you can also use permanent locks to keep windows shut from the inside. If your home already has window locks but you don’t have the key for them, you can have the locks refitted for new keys or pay someone to install new ones for you.
This option tends to be more expensive. While locks can be a big help for those who want to pay the money for them, they also require you to keep the windows closed the entire time they’re in use.
So if you want to keep your windows open at all, you’ll need a second option as a backup.
Babyproofing with Window Stops
Similar to a doorstop, a window-stop works similar to its babyproofing entryway counterpart — the doorstop. Here are a few options to consider:
1. Window Wedge
One type of window stop is the window wedge. You can use this wedge-shaped tool with single- and double-hung windows as well as sliding windows. The wedge stops the window from moving any further than where you set it.
This means you can open the window two or four inches but use the window stop to prevent it from opening further. It allows you to have airflow while still keeping your baby safe.
2. Security Bar
Security bars, also called Charley bars, are often used to secure sliding glass doors, but they can also help babyproof sliding windows. Just place the bar high so it’s out of reach for your child, and make sure to turn it upside down because the window can be opened if it is turned upright.
Many security bars come in adjustable sizes, but others can be cut to fit your window size if you can’t find one that fits outright.
Babyproofing With Window Film
Many of us know babies are some of the best escape artists around, but did you know many of them have an arm that could rival a major league pitcher?
My son once threw a toy across the room, hitting an ornament that I’d moved out of reach. It fell and shattered. After having a little cry, I thought about what else he could break. Enter window film.
Window film is a translucent film you can place on top of the glass on your windows. You can apply it to a window, or any glass surface, including windows that don’t open. The film doesn’t keep the glass from breaking, but it will contain the broken pieces to keep your child from getting hurt.
Babyproofing Awning and Casement Windows
Awning and casement windows both open either inward or outward, making it easy for babies to climb through. You’ll need to take an extra step to keep your baby safe if you have these windows in your home.
1. Window Guards
A window guard is a series of bars set close enough together, so your baby cannot fall through. They are sizes made to fit nearly every window. You can place them inside or outside your home, depending on how your windows open.
Unlike security bars that are often screwed into the window, making them next to impossible to get off quickly, these are easily removable by an adult, which means they are not a safety hazard in case of a fire.
2. Remove the Crank
Another way to babyproof awning or casement windows is to remove the crank mechanism. You can usually do this by screwing the handle off. You’ll have to keep the handle nearby if you plan on opening the window.
Babyproofing Window Cords
You’ll also need to consider your window blinds when babyproofing your windows. In the United States, nearly one child per month dies from window cord strangulation (3).
The best way to prevent these injuries is to replace your window treatments with cordless options. However, as you can imagine, that can be expensive.
If you don’t have the funds to replace all your window treatments, you can put your focus on keeping the cords out of your child’s reach.
An inexpensive alternative is to place a hook on the wall nearby and wind the cord around it, putting it out of reach of your children, but also keeping it organized and accessible to you.
Another part of the home people tend to forget when babyproofing is the windowsill.
Your baby can’t fall through them, get choked by them, or have them break. But windowsills often have sharp corners, and your baby can fall on them, leading to bruises, cuts, and even concussions, depending on how hard they fall.
To babyproof windowsills, focus on padding the corners. That way if your baby falls, they will have a softer surface to bump into.
Also, pay attention to how high your windowsill is from the ground. Little ones often look at windowsills as great climbing opportunities. Even if you’ve moved furniture and stackable objects out of the area, they can sometimes still climb if the windowsill is low enough.
Unfortunately, there is no real way to keep children from climbing on lower windowsills, so this is where the boundaries and clear-cut rules come into play.
Basement Window Safety
One thing you should consider if you have a basement in your home is if your children have a way to get out of the basement windows in case of fire.
We’ve been focusing on making sure kids can’t escape through windows, but you should also have a window escape route planned if you spend time in your basement.
You should have an alternative exit available in the case of an emergency.
Many city codes require basements to have egress windows or windows large enough to exit or enter in case of an emergency (4). If your basement doesn’t have an egress window, consider adding one in if funds allow.
If you don’t have the funds available, make sure you have a ladder or chair nearby that can be moved to the window if you need to make an emergency escape.
Babyproofing Windows: A Quick Review
Babyproofing your windows isn’t rocket science. In fact, it’s pretty simple to make your windows safe for your baby. Just remember the following steps:
- Identify your windows: The types of windows you have will make a difference in how you babyproof them.
- Spot the hazards: Walk through your house and identify all window hazards. Don’t forget to think about windowsills, blinds, and basement windows as well.
- Consider budget: Your budget will decide if you can do things like placing permanent locks on all your windows or replacing all the window treatments with cordless ones. If you don’t have the budget for these measures, you can explore other options.
- Pick your method: After determining your windows and budget, look at the options available and choose what’s best.
- Review: Did you miss anything, such as objects your child might throw to break the window? Or stackable items they can climb to escape? Now is the time to fix it.