Your baby used to be so laid back – but suddenly, she’s scooting, crawling, and rocking herself beyond the activity mat, and you couldn’t be happier to observe her progress. Of course, with all of these new physical abilities come new potential hazards in your baby’s path. We all know to cover outlets and lock up cleaning supplies, but safety precautions shouldn’t end there.
Kathleen Alfano, Ph.D, Former Director of Child Research for the Fisher-Price Play Lab, shared some tips for making your crawler’s ever-expanding playing zone a safe one.
“Get down on the floor and look all around from a laying down, sitting down, or standing up position,” says Dr. Alfano. “Everything looks different from these levels.”
See if you can spot the things that would look interesting, shiny, or simply eye-catching to your infant.
Some scary things you might find: is there a screw loose on the bottom of a chair? Are there coins or other small items – aka choking hazards – within reach under the sofa? While there are excellent so-called “baby proofing” products out there intended to keep your infant safe, you still need to use some common sense caution, says Dr. Alfano. “It’s not so much baby-proofing as making your house baby-explorable.”
Some other dangers in plain sight:
Small trashcans are lightweight and easy for baby to overturn, giving them free reign over all of the items therein. For the time being, it’s probably safest to move them into an area that baby cannot access.
Radiators with slats can be dangerous. Babies will stick anything inside anywhere, says Dr. Alfano, and that includes their arms and legs. If you have an old-fashioned radiator, it can be bad news even when it's not on, so consider investing in covers.
Old-fashioned door stoppers have those little rubber ends that can come off with just a tug, so it might be wise to switch to an alternative stopper that's installed at the height of the door knob.
Be extra vigilant if vitamins, pills, hard candies, or other bite-sized food morsels fall on the floor. Again, these items can roll under, behind, or in-between furniture, just within reach of little fingers, so don't get distracted by a phone call and forget to do a thorough inspection after a spill.
Floor-length window treatments may look lovely, but keep in mind that crawling babies will grab onto anything they can to try to pull themselves up — that includes cords for your TV and other appliances.
Once you get used to thinking like a baby, you'll be able to create a safe environment that he or she can explore and enjoy freely.
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.