Do Safety Needs Change as Baby Grows?

By Dr. Bettye M. Caldwell

Safety will always be important, no matter what stage a baby is in. But while some general safety guidelines will remain the same, the specifics change as a baby develops. With each new skill, you’ll need to look at the surrounding environment again, so you can allow baby to exercise new abilities safely.

Wriggling and rolling
  • Support baby’s head whenever changing her and especially when bathing.
  • Make the baby’s room off limits to your pet, no matter how cute they seem together.
  • “Back to Sleep” is still the rule for SIDS prevention.
  • No jogger strollers yet—it’s too early for baby. Be sure the stroller or carriage you use meets safety standards.
  • Don’t hold a baby and a container of hot liquid at the same time.
Reaching and grabbing
  • Move appliances, breakables, and cords away from bathing and diaper-changing areas.
  • If baby is very active, start changing diapers on a surface that is lower to the ground. Otherwise, make sure to keep at least one hand on baby at all times while changing.
  • Lower the crib mattress to the middle notch.
  • Use a car seat for every outing in any car, and place the car seat in the middle of the back seat, facing backward.
  • Bathing is slippery enough as it is. Keep the soap, lotions, and oils completely out of reach.
  • Make sure baby is wearing sun-protective hats and long sleeves when you go on outings. Add a touch of sunscreen on baby’s face and hands.
Touching and tasting
  • Make sure the high chair has a broad enough base to be completely stable on your floor. Also make sure it has a safety belt to hold your little wiggler.
  • Keep cutlery and glasses out of baby’s reach.
  • Don’t let baby eat leaves, rocks, or dirt found in the park.
  • If you make your own baby food, keep all utensils used in preparation very clean. Freeze food you don’t plan to use right away.
Sitting up and crawling
  • Don’t take your eyes off baby for a second. Being mobile makes baby an unstoppable exploring machine.
  • Expand the baby-proofing territory to include any part of the house baby may visit.
  • Change baby’s diapers on the floor or bed instead of a waist-high surface.
  • Keep dangling draperies or shade cords up and well out of reach.
  • Use safety latches on all low cupboards, and move all cleaning products to a high, out of reach cabinet (latches aren’t enough).
  • Get rid of insect traps, repellents, and poisons on the floor.
Cruising and walking
  • Place a soft surface, such as a rug or pad, beneath the crib. That way, if baby does learn how to climb out, bruised knees will be kept to a minimum. And toys thrown overboard won’t break as easily.
  • Baby now loves to open and close doors. Watch out for fingers!
  • Gate all staircases.
  • Make sure windows and screens are secured with stops and locks.
  • Keep baby close to you when an unknown animal approaches. Toddlers are very erratic and may upset even the most placid of dogs.
Our parenting advice is given as suggestions only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider, and urge you to contact them immediately if your question is urgent or about a medical condition.