While learning to crawl and walk are exciting milestones in a baby’s life, it also adds another item to the list of parental duties – creating a safe home for baby. Your baby’s developing motor skills and natural curiosity will lead him to explore everywhere he can. A good place to start with baby proofing is to get on your own hands and knees and take a baby’s-eye tour of your house to see where the potential dangers are. And while nothing can take the place of direct supervision, there are a few simple things you can do to make baby’s world a safer one.
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Baby Proofing »
Once your baby begins to crawl, a baby gate is an easy way to keep her out of off-limit areas, such as stairs. There are a few varieties to choose from, each with their own unique benefits.
As the name implies, pressure-mounted gates use pressure to secure them in place. Since no hardware is required, a pressure gate is easy to install and portable, so you can take it from room to room if you wish or take it when travelling to other people's homes. If you want to keep your pressure gate in place, some models have a door that swings open so you don't need to remove the whole gate when you need to walk through. While pressure gates are good to use between rooms and at the bottom of the stairs, NEVER install a pressure gate at the top of the stairs since a baby leaning on the gate could push it over.
Installed directly into the wall, a hardware-mounted gate is a must for the top a staircase. If you have a baby who is a climber, you'll appreciate sturdier nature of these gates. Remember to screw the gate into a wood stud, not drywall or plaster. If there is a support bar running along the bottom of the gate, do not use it on stairs, as this could be a tripping hazard.
If you need to block off an odd-shaped space or create a baby corral within a room, free-standing gates or customizable gates are a good choice. These gates consist of interlocking panels that let you determine the size and shape of the enclosure. While they can stand upright on their own, some models can be installed into a wall. These gates are also good for building a temporary play yard outdoors.
Baby Gate Safety Tips
- Remember that babies can climb stairs before they can walk so get your gates installed before their first steps
- Never leave a baby unattended
- Always close gates behind you
- Gates should be no less than three quarter's of your child's height
- Take down gates once a child can dislodge them, open them or climb them
- Always follow the manufacturer's installation instructions
- If you have older children, it may be wise to get gates that automatically swing shut since kids may not always remember to close the gates
When your toddler is ready to move from crib to a bed, bed rails can make the transition easier and safer. Easy to install on most toddler and full-size beds, a bed safety rail can help prevent a child from falling out of bed or getting trapped between the wall and the bed. Bed rails should be used for children between the ages of 2 and 5, and who can get in and out of bed unassisted. Check the rail often to be sure there are no gaps that can trap a toddler's fingers, toes or body. Bed rails should never be used in place of a crib.
When it comes to baby proofing your home, there are the common sense things to do, such as moving medicines and household cleaners to higher shelves, keeping breakable and mouth-sized objects out of reach, and blocking off stairs. To address the less obvious hazards, try crawling around the house and see what baby will see.
Most of the items you need to child proof the house are easy to install, inexpensive and one the soundest investments of time and money you'll make. Some key safety items to get include:
- electrical outlet covers
- cabinet & drawer latches
- stove shields
- toilet lid lock
- corner covers
- first-aid kit