Is your home safe for a crawling baby?

When your baby first learns to crawl, keeping track of him or her could be a full-time job. Read our tips on keeping your crawling baby safe.

By Christine Langlois

Dangers of a mobile baby
©iStockphoto.com/Luis Alvarez

Keeping your baby safe
As your baby begins to grope, pull, and wiggle her way through the house, you need to stay a couple of moves ahead of her, anticipating danger and moving offending objects out of the way. To make your job of supervision easier, eliminate anything that she might pull down on herself or pop into her mouth.

The first thing to do is to get down on your hands and knees or lie on your back and look at the world from your baby's perspective to see what might attract her interest. You'll be surprised at how many dangling cords you'll see-from lamps, irons, kettles, and telephones. If you study the floor or the carpet up close the way your baby will, you'll notice tiny items -- a straight pin, a lost button, a pen cap -- that the vacuum cleaner missed. Start now to childproof your home to protect your baby and to give her as much freedom of movement as possible.

Protect the crawling baby
• Push table lamps or table-top telephones to the back of the table. Twirl the lamp cord around the table leg and plug it into the socket.

• Cover all electric outlets with outlet covers made of strong plastic. Be aware that the prongs on inexpensive or old covers can break and become a choking hazard. Let baby know not to touch outlets, even when covered. Not every place he visits will have covered outlets.

• Tie up cords of window coverings. Buy a commercial shortener or wind the cord around hooks attached high on the window frame.

• Put away the long tablecloths that can be pulled down along with whatever is on the table. Use place mats instead.

• Avoid using corner guards on coffee tables or other low furniture; some don't adhere well and can become a choking hazard. Choose elasticized corner pads or remove the offending furniture.

• Install safety latches on cupboards and drawers.

• Put an out-of-reach latch on the outside of bathroom doors.

• Use safety gates, but don't rely on them alone, in case they are left open at some point. Use safety gates that can be bolted into place at the top of stairs; the pressure-mounted ones are also popular and convenient, but neither type should have toe holds that a child could use to climb over.

• As soon as your baby can go up the stairs, teach him to turn around and go down stairs feet first. Take him to the top of the stairs, physically lift him and turn him around on the top step. As you back down, pull one of his legs down, then the other until he gets the pattern. When he's ready to learn to go down frontward, stand behind him to steady him as he holds on and goes down the steps on his own. Practise this over and over.

• Never lift a chid by pulling on his arms. You might dislocate his elbow or shoulder.

• Choose only toys recommended for a child the age of yours; keep them in an open toy box without a lid.

• Teach older siblings not to share the toys that are too small for baby and could cause him to choke.

• Choose a playpen that meets current safety regulations as a safe haven for your baby when you're called away. Look for one that's portable and has a thick floor pad and rigid side rails.

• Make sure all windows are lockable, and don't rely on window screens to prevent a child from falling out.

• Cover balcony railings with netting so that your baby can't wedge his head between the bars.

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