Tuesday, August 23, 2005

When Baby is Mobile: Childproofing

Sometime in the months before your baby is walking around the house like a little marathon hiker, he or she will be on the move in other ways. Whether it is crawling or using a walker, it will be time to childproof your home before the actual walking starts.

As soon as the baby can get from one point to another on his own, it is time to get serious about making the environment safe. We only need to look away for a minute or two and the baby, once having discovered the ability to move to another spot, can travel a lot faster than we can usually imagine.

When it is time to childproof, you may find it's a good idea to look at things through the eyes of the baby. Do not be afraid to get down on your hands and knees and see what delightful treasures (to baby's eyes) there would be to pull over, spill, break, or get into. Often we think of things like cupboard locks and plastic plugs for electrical outlets but forget about dangerous things that are sitting out on shelves or within a climbing baby's reach.

Those are actually two of the first things you will want to check into: something to keep the bottom cupboards locked and those outlet plugs. If you are not planning to lock or block the bottom cupboards then it is vital to move all harmful substances to a much higher level that the baby can't reach.

Another important thing to start with is safety gates for any place that will need them. Sometimes we remember the gates at the top of stairs but forget that babies enjoy climbing steps from the bottom as well. Be sure the gate is a good one and sturdy so that it can't be pushed over.

Be prepared to change and move new and different items and levels as the baby gets older and is suddenly able to reach more items and open new doors and drawers.

After you take care of the basic items, there are some things to look for that we don't always think about. Electrical cords for lamps, computers, televisions, and so on will need to be put out of baby's reach. The same goes for other things that hang down such as the pull cords for blinds.

Don't keep standing water in the bathtub or sinks. Make sure the toilet lid is down at all times. If you use a bucket or other container to clean, never walk away while the bucket or container remains within baby's territory. (Which is anywhere the child can travel whether or not he's in the area at the moment.)

If the baby is moving around the house easily, remember that he can also stand up in the crib, so make sure to prepare the crib in the best way you can in case he climbs over the railing. You may want keep a blanket or layer of them on the floor in front of the crib just in case baby becomes clever enough to figure out how to make an escape.

A few more things to keep in mind: Be heedful of furniture that could be pulled over on top of the baby. Secure that type of furniture. Make sure at all times that there aren't small items lying around that would be a choking hazard. Anything small enough to fit into the mouth will go into it.