September is Baby Safety Month, so we’re going to focus on keeping your baby safe during one of the most thrilling milestones – when Baby learns to crawl! For parents, this moment is both exciting and scary. Suddenly, you see danger lurking everywhere. But don’t worry. It isn’t hard to babyproof your house, although you will have to get used to some of the changes. These guidelines will ensure that your new little explorer can crawl around safely.
Assume that anything the baby can reach will go in his or her mouth.
Many babies start crawling and cruising between six and ten months – right when they’re teething. Consequently, if they find something they can drool and gum on, odds are they’ll pop it in their mouths. Combat this by making sure anything at baby level is safe for noshing. If it can fit through a toilet paper roll tube, it’s small enough to get lodged in your baby’s throat. Any toy or item your child has access to should be larger than a toilet paper roll tube.
If you have an older child, he or she might protest when you start moving small toys. Instead of taking them away, move them to your older child’s bedroom, where he or she can play with “big kid toys” away from the baby.
Don’t forget about electrical cords! Eventually (and perhaps quite quickly), your child will move from crawling to cruising, and he or she will use everything available to stand. Move cords out of the way so your child doesn’t gnaw on them or accidentally tug on one, causing a lamp to fall down or a computer to crash to the floor. Try taping the cords high up on the wall, and firmly say no or redirect the baby if he or she reaches for them. If a cord proves too tempting, you may need to move it until the child is older.
Outlet covers are a ubiquitous baby safety accessory for a reason. Some babies find nothing more tempting than the thought of putting a chubby finger into a hole in the wall. Buy the outlet covers and use them. You won’t regret it.
Don’t wait on babyproofing. I used to let my son play with toothpaste tubes, lipstick tubes, and (most regrettably) a jar of Vaseline. He didn’t know how to open them, so it didn’t matter if he rolled a bottle of lotion around on the floor. Until one day, he did know how to open them. And I walked into the bathroom to find a happy baby covered in petroleum jelly. The worst that happened was that his outfit was ruined, but I learned my lesson. Even if your child doesn’t know how to do something, he or she will learn! Don’t wait until something happens to babyproof. The situation could easily have been much worse.
When you babyproof, you may as well go the whole nine yards. Just because your child can’t reach the top drawer in your kitchen yet doesn’t mean he or she won’t be able to soon. It’s far better to get everything done in one fell swoop than to one day discover your child is now tall enough to reach your silverware drawer. If you try to do it piecemeal, you’ll end up slowly moving everything from the bottom drawers to the top drawer, until you have no room for anything and you have to babyproof it anyway. Bite the bullet now and you won’t have to worry later.
It’s about more than safety.
This is a good opportunity to start teaching your children what “no” means. There are many things you’ll want to babyproof that may not necessarily be dangerous to your child; you simply don’t want him or her to touch them. For example, my son was quite sure that the toilet was his own indoor splash pad. Every chance he got, he’d stick his hands in the potty and splash like a madman. Now, it’s extremely unlikely that he would fall into the toilet and injure himself doing this, but it’s frankly unsanitary. We learned to keep the toilet seat down at all times to avoid this, and now he leaves the toilet alone.
Dog/cat food and water is another good example. A couple bites of kibble aren’t the end of the world; if your baby goes for the food, you can teach your child that some things are okay to touch and other things aren’t without worrying that he or she is in any actual danger. Anything that might cause harm to your child should be removed entirely, but leaving out the dog food or keeping the toilet seat up will offer some good opportunities for you to teach your child to listen to you.
Bumps and bruises are part of life.
Every child will fall down, bump his or her head, and trip over things. It’s all part of the learning process. When you babyproof, you want to prevent any major accidents like choking or an item falling off a shelf. Remember, though, that most children cannot (and should not) live in a bubble. Experience is the best teacher, and when those inevitable boo-boos blossom, just be there to kiss them better.