Keeping Rooms Safe for Toddlers


We recently got a question from a mother who said,

Our three-year-old is a real climber! We have several bookshelves in the family room, and I'm afraid he'll pull one over on himself trying to climb it. How can we make the room safer?

A lot!

According to a 2009 study conducted at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, more than 260,000 children received emergency room care because of furniture tip-over-related injuries between 1990 and 2007. There were 300 deaths, and most of the injuries were to children ages 6 and under - so her concerns are well-founded.

Even children without a penchant for climbing can be tempted to scale a dresser or bookcase when something they desire is just out of reach. These accidents happen so quickly - and children this age do not have the time or the skill to get out of the way.

What parents need is a “tip-restraint kit.” There are several varieties available online, including the Safety First Wall Strap ($8-$9 from and the Anti-tip Furniture Strap and No-Tip Furniture Brackets from ($6.95-$7.95). Or look in your local hardware store.

Make sure you follow the instructions for installation closely. If not installed properly, tip restraints will fail.

Here are some additional safety tips:

  • Place the heaviest items on the lowest shelves or bottom drawers. 
  • Don't ever place a television or other heavy object on the top of a dresser, book case, or other storage piece. 
  • Use consoles or cabinets designed to hold a television. (Televisions were involved in nearly half of the injuries reported in the Nationwide Children's Hospital study.) 
  • Never allow children to climb or hang on drawers, doors or shelves. 
  • Never open more than one drawer at a time. 
  • Don't disable the drawer stops. 
  • Don't place the remote control or toys or other objects that your child may want within his/her view on upper shelves or on the top of furniture. 
  • A new voluntary safety standard requires manufacturers to enclose tip restraints with any piece of clothing storage furniture taller than 30 inches that is manufactured after May 15, 2009. The standard also requires a permanent warning label on the furniture that outlines tip-over hazards. However, furniture that fails to meet this voluntary standard is still readily available in the marketplace. 

Keeping kids safe in the home is always a top priority. Luckily, home furnishings manufacturers are increasingly creating innovative products to keep us all safer.