One of the most monumental and joyful times in your baby’s life is when they first learn to crawl and, shortly thereafter, walk. It’s exciting to watch your little one learn to get around on their own, from those first teetering steps to their confident walking, skipping and jumping.
Watching your baby learn to be mobile will bring wonderful memories but can also be a bit stressful, at least at first. Everyday items in your home now seem a bit more precarious when it comes to your toddling baby. You can give yourself peace of mind by thoughtfully baby proofing your home. By preparing for spills and tumbles, your baby will be safer as they navigate finding their balance and remaining upright.
No matter how much you baby proof your home, your baby will (and should!) occasionally fall or get into drawers or near tables that they aren’t supposed to. Bumps and bruises are a natural part of this stage of development, and learning how to fall and walk safely around the house is an important skill for your child to develop. Though it’s important to take precautions, no one should bubble wrap their home—or their baby, for that matter. Try to take everything with a grain of salt, and know that your baby’s stumbles are part of the journey.
Here are some ideas to get started baby proofing each room in your home.
The Living Room
Baby gates just might become your new best friend during this developmental stage. Use gates to “rope off” any room or area that you don’t want your baby to enter, including at the top and bottom of each set of stairs.
To prevent little fingers from getting pinched in doors, try these guards made of soft, durable foam. Outfit any low windows that your little one can reach with guards or locks as well. Be on the lookout for sharp corners on window sills, coffee tables and other furniture, and cover them with foam if necessary.
Secure loose electrical cords so your baby doesn’t get tangled in them while crawling or trip over them while practicing walking, and be sure to baby proof all outlets with secure covers. If you have a fireplace, put a gate or mesh screen in front of it.
Since the living room is likely where your family spends a lot of time, make sure there’s a soft area—a plush rug works great—where your baby can practice their walking.
Because the bedroom likely has more furniture in a smaller amount of space (dressers, the bed or crib, the changing table and nightstands), take extra care to ensure all sharp edges and corners are covered. Secure any loose items near the crib so little hands can’t pull unwanted things in. Protect all outlets. Be sure any large furniture items that are up against a wall, like a bookcase or a dresser, are secured with an anti-tip kit.
Lock up cabinets, pantry doors and drawers, especially if they contain sharp objects like knives and scissors. Keep detergents, pesticides, cleaning products and any other toxic household chemicals locked up, preferably in a high cabinet.
Make sure that your trash can is secure. If your dining table has a tablecloth, tie up the ends so nothing gets pulled off, tugged or spilled. In case your child wanders into the kitchen after dinner has just been heated, make sure to use the out-of-reach back burners whenever possible.
Not everything needs to be off limits! Set aside one kitchen cabinet or drawer within your baby’s reach that they can open and explore. Pick one that’s not too close to the stove or oven and fill it with safe but interesting objects. Think plastic storage containers, wooden spoons, empty yogurt containers or puree jars.
First and foremost, always keep the toilet seat down. If your little one shows interest in lifting it up, try a lock that’s easy on, easy off for adults. Lock away all cosmetics, nail polish, medication and cleaning supplies. Make sure that the garbage can has a lid. For the shower and tub, look for a fun non-slip mat to prevent falls or slips during bathtime. Prevent injury from any sudden movements during bath time with a faucet cover that protects their head.
With a little planning and preparation, you can keep your child safe and sound as they take their first steps. Learning to walk is one of your baby’s most joyful journeys—enjoy it with the confidence that they’ll be well protected.