When you think your baby is about to get mobile, it’s time to shift into baby proofing mode.
I remember the first time I saw a catalog from One Step Ahead. I was shocked at how many baby proofing gadgets are on the market. I was confused, too. Did I need all of them? Only some of them? Which ones?
Exactly how much baby proofing you’ll need to do depend on your baby’s personality, your parenting style, and the particulars of your home. Some babies are real explorers, and some aren’t as adventurous. Some are climbers, and some simply aren’t. Some of us never leave our babies’ side as they play, and some of us have other things to attend to from time to time–like other kids–and can’t watch the baby every second. Above all, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Start figuring out what you’ll need to do by exploring your home on your hands and knees to get a “baby’s eye view”. That way you can identify areas and objects of concern. You’ll get an even clearer idea of what needs to be done as you watch your baby’s first attempts to explore the house.
Here are eight easy, and inexpensive first steps to take to baby proof your home. I’ve linked to products at Amazon so that you can check them out.
- Move cleaning supplies, medicines, paints, glues, solvents and other chemicals out of baby’s reach. The same goes for sharp objects (scissors, knives, tools, etc.), firearms, breakable objects, and some electronics. Sometimes this just means moving items from a lower cabinet or drawer to a higher one. If this isn’t practical, try cabinet and drawer locks.
- Your toddler will figure out how to turn a doorknob sooner than you think, so doorknob covers are pretty handy. You’ll also want to make sure windows can’t be opened.
- Pay special attention to the kitchen and bathroom. If the entire room is off limits, you can keep the door closed or use a baby gate. If your baby will have access to either room, don’t forget to secure your oven door, dishwasher door, fridge door, and toilet lid (some ovens and dishwashers have built-in locks). Turn down your hot water heater’s temperature to about 120 degrees F to prevent scalding–no purchase necessary.
- Secure bookcases, dressers, televisions and other pieces of any furniture baby can pull up on to the wall to prevent tipping. You can buy special straps that attach to the top or back of the piece and then to the wall.
- Cover electrical outlets to prevent insertion of little fingers and everything else. (and don’t forget about outlets in power strips). We used the inexpensive plastic pronged kind for our outlets and they worked fine for us. It’s also a great idea to throw a few extra plug-in outlet covers into your diaper bag for trips to grandma’s house, hotel rooms, etc.
- Prevent falls on stairs if you have them by installing a baby gate at the top and/or bottom of the stairs. I think simple is best. We had a fancy (and expensive) remote-controlled one and it drove us bonkers because it didn’t unlatch dependably. Consignment sales and stores are great places to find deals on baby gates (and other baby proofing items, too).
- Remove strangulation hazards like mini blind cords, electric cords and other dangling objects from your tot’s reach. Watch out for items like table cloths, too. If your baby pulls on them items resting on top of them can fall on her.
- Cover sharp edges of fireplace hearths and the edges of furniture to prevent a trip to the emergency room for stitches. You can buy foam covers and guards or you can improvise your own. We used a folded up comforter to cover the edge of our hearth. You can also cut open a pool noodle to cover the edge of a coffee table.
While I can’t tell you precisely what you need to do to baby proof your home, I can say with certainty that you do NOT need to spend a mint buying every single baby proofing doodad. Let common sense and awareness be your most powerful tools. And when in doubt, remember that it’s better to be safe than sorry.