For every parent, watching a baby learn to crawl is a wonderful and exciting experience. But this time of change and growth can also be highly stressful; all of a sudden, your house seems to be full of hazards that your newly mobile baby can now encounter!
To help alleviate some of the anxiety, it’s a good idea to childproof your home before your baby even starts to crawl. That way, baby’s first explorations can be as safe and joyful as possible. Here are some key tips on how to childproof your home.
-Try to look at your home from a crawling baby’s perspective. What dangers do you see? What cabinets, drawers, and shelves are easily accessible? This will help you get an idea of what you need to keep out of baby’s reach.
-Curtain and blind cords are a potential strangulation hazard; tie them up out of reach or install cordless blinds.
-Babies love to use furniture to pull themselves up, so beware of unstable objects. Fix or put away any wobbly pieces, bolt bookshelves and other furniture to the walls, and put heavier items in lower drawers and shelves to make furniture less top-heavy. Keep drawers closed when not in use so that your baby doesn’t climb on them or pull them down. Also be sure to push big items like televisions away from furniture edges and make sure they’re secure.
-Secure area rugs to the floor with non-skid backing, and fix any loose tiles, linoleum, and floorboards.
-Keep houseplants out of reach so that your baby doesn’t eat them or knock them over.
-Keep pet food dishes off the floor when not in use, and when pets are eating, make sure your baby is in a different room. Make sure that cat litter, aquariums, and any other pet cages are safely out of reach.
-Small knickknacks, including tiny objects like coins and paper clips, can be a choking hazard, while larger ones can be pulled down and fall onto your baby. Make sure they’re all out of baby’s reach.
-Cover any sharp furniture corners with protective padding, especially low coffee tables and sideboards.
-Put safety gates at the top and bottom of the stairs and in any doorways you don’t want your baby going through. Make sure not to use older accordion-style gates, which can be hazardous.
-Avoid using tablecloths; babies can yank on them and pull glasses, dishes, and silverware down onto themselves. Stick to placemats instead.
-Open windows can be very dangerous for small children. Keep furniture and cribs away from windows and install window locks or stops that prevent them from opening more than a few inches.
-Cover and protect your fireplace so that your baby doesn’t fall in. Be especially careful when you’re using the fireplace and your baby is nearby.
-Be sure to install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors if you don’t already have them.
Childproofing the Kitchen:
-Put childproof safety latches on all cabinets, and move all poisonous substances and sharp objects out of reach. Keep poison control’s phone number handy, just in case.
-Make sure your garbage cans are out of reach or securely closed.
-Don’t let your child play nearby when the stove or oven are in use. When you’re cooking, use back burners whenever possible, and turn pot/pan handles away from the front of the stove so they can't be pulled down by the baby.
-Cover or remove burner knobs and lock the oven when you’re not using them.
-Don’t leave mouse or insect traps within baby’s reach.
Childproofing the Bathroom:
-Never leave your baby unattended in the tub! Small children can drown in just a few inches of water.
-Put a soft cover on the bath faucet head and place non-skid strips on the floor of the tub.
-Turn the temperature on your water heater down to 110 degrees to prevent scalding.
-Keep all medications out of reach in a locked cabinet.
-Babies are fascinated by water. Install a toilet lock to keep your baby from opening the lid and falling in. Babies are top-heavy, so they can drown this way.
-Similarly, never leave buckets of water or other liquids unattended.
Childproofing the Nursery:
-Move your crib mattress to the lowest setting and remove everything (such as mobiles, toys, and bumper pads) that your baby could use to climb out of the crib.
-Try to keep the crib as uncrowded as possible; avoid using pillows, comforters, and other soft bedding.
-Make sure toy chests are either lidless or have lids that stay open. If you have older children, keep their toys out of baby’s reach.
-Tape down or move all electrical cords to prevent babies from chewing on them or using them to pull lamps and other appliances down onto themselves.
-Put safety covers on all outlets (including the ones behind furniture) to prevent electrocution.
-Unplug and put away all small appliances when you’re not using them.
These are the basics of childproofing, but this isn’t a one-time process. As your child grows and graduates from crawling to walking and climbing, you’ll have to check out all the new hazards in their reach and adjust your safety measures accordingly.
And remember, even the most thorough childproofing is no substitute for careful supervision. Keeping a close eye on your baby is always the best way to keep them safe!