As a parent to a little one, you are keenly aware that from the time they were born, they grow quickly and move from one milestone to the next in rapid succession. So, when it comes to babyproofing stage by stage, it is tricky to stay ahead of them because of this!
In this handy guide, we will outline some of the best ways to childproof your home depending on what your baby/toddler is most likely to need as they gain more mobility. Obviously, a crawling baby can get into a lot, but not as much as a climber. So, let’s break this down.
What comes first, second, and last?
For your Crawler…
First things first, get those baby gates up. Especially make it a priority to install gates at the tops and bottoms of any stairs in your home. These are some of the most dangerous areas for a crawler.
Keep small objects picked up off the floor. This will probably mean vacuuming daily and being diligent about removing choke hazards like marbles, small lego pieces, and button batteries from your home. A crawler has nothing better to do than stick anything and everything into their mouth!
Remove, tie back, hide or otherwise get electrical cords off the floor and get electrical outlet covers installed. Crawlers also tend to be biters, pullers, and pokers, and those qualities just don’t mix with electricity.
If you have window coverings with long, loopy, droopy blind cords, those will need to be tied up or removed as quickly as possible. A crawler is curious and will inevitably get tangled in them and that would be very bad.
This is the stage where you need to get cupboard locks into place. Cupboards are full of “off-limit” items, including chemicals and other hazards that curious crawlers will search out and find in no time.
Remove tablecloths that hang down in baby’s reach or you might find all your dishes on the floor and that would be a disaster.
Get small trash cans up or put them in blocked off areas, as a crawler is at the perfect height for digging in for lost treasure.
Entryways with dirty shoes will act as a magnet to a crawler, so if you don’t want baby licking shoe bottoms…either partition off the entry way or get shoes on higher shelves.
Crawlers will want to play with doors, so to avoid pinched fingers, use sections of sliced open pool noodles to slip over indoor doors to keep them from being closed all the way. Or, as an alternative, simply keep all doors closed all the time. (I know, hard to do!)
Finally, consider investing in a play pen for keeping baby from wandering off when you need to keep them contained to a smaller area for a while.
For Your Toddler…
Now that your little one is cruising around on their feet, you will need to think about baby proofing up just a bit higher. So it is now time to get those drawer locks into place.
Also, if you previously just tied up low-hanging blind cords, now is the time to just eliminate them entirely. A toddler is even more likely to get them caught around their neck, so we cannot stress enough the importance of removing this hazard.
Toddlers are usually tall enough to reach door handles, so this is a great time to install those plastic door handle covers, as well a door alarm for any exterior doors, if you have an escape artist on your hands.
If you have knickknacks on tables or other breakables such as lamps or vases on end tables, a toddler is definitely big enough to reach them and knock them over. So, either put them up much higher or choose to go minimalist and remove.
Toddlers are known for toddling, i.e. walking in an uncoordinated manner and falling often. For this reason, this stage is perfect for installing soft bumpers on table corners and stone hearths. Keep your baby from bumping their head with a nasty fall.
Toddlers are fast and toddlers like water. So, you will need to be extra-diligent to keep them safe around the bathroom, kiddie pool, or any water source…even an abandoned bucket of water. Use toilet locks, gate locks, and lots of parental supervision if water is anywhere around.
Earlier we talked about getting cords off of floors, but a toddler can reach a lot higher than a crawler, so you will need to re-vamp all cord storage solutions. Especially think about cords connected to small appliances and electronics, such as irons and laptops, that can be pulled down with a tug.
If you usually use a table top fan or even one on a stand, keep in mind that toddlers are attracted to those moving blades. You will need to move them out of the areas that your toddler is allowed to roam because there is no keeping those fingers out.
Toddlers are big enough to reach stove knobs, oven door handles, and other hot surfaces. This is your cue to get unique babyproofing solutions for these dangerous areas!
Also, toddlers will most likely need even more baby gates in more areas around the house simply because they are bolder and faster, and yet may need more area to roam.
For Your Climber…
Once your toddler is taller and learns how to climb, you may actually need to start installing extra-tall baby gates to keep them contained. This should help you keep them contained for longer.
However, once your climber becomes too big and determined, you will be faced with the ultimate decision to actually remove your baby gates. Climbers that can scale baby gates are actually in greater danger having them up than they are by having them removed altogether.
To keep climbers safe on stairs, it might mean keeping them off of them completely for a while, but eventually, you will simply need to get them trained how to go up and down them safely. And consider carpeting them just to make them safer.
One of the top tips for climbers is making sure that all tall or heavy furniture is anchoredly firmly into a stud in the wall. Bookcases, entertainment centers, hutches, dressers, etc… are all prone to being climbed on and falling. If any piece of furniture holds a heavy object such as a TV, then it also falls into this category. Anchor, anchor, anchor!
Don’t underestimate your climbers ability to get up high quickly. Keep the table cleared off, if possible, and watch those chairs…they are the perfect height to be used as stepping stones to higher surfaces.
If your child is a real monkey, you might want to remove handles from drawers temporarily. My kids were notorious for using these as steps to get up on the counters! Yikes. As long as the handles are removed and there are drawer locks in place, you can really reduce the chances of this happening.
Washing machines are known for being a hazard for climbers. Eliminate any access to your laundry room once your child reaches this stage. Ask them to help you with the laundry only after they are safely past a stage where the washing machine will be something interesting to them.
Pay attention to ladders, stepladders, stools, and bunkbed ladders. These are all highly attractive to a climber and will be climbed faster than you can blink an eye. Consider eliminating them for a while or keeping them neatly tucked away when not in use.
Install appliance locks on freezers, refrigerators, stoves, etc… A climber will otherwise use any opportunity to climb inside. Kids are not aware of the dangers and can easily find themselves in a bad situation.
Finally, give your climber a safe climbing outlet. Get them a little jungle gym or take them to the park often. Climbing is a developmentally-appropriate and necessary stage for your child to go through. Channel this energy in the proper way by giving them opportunities to climb to their heart’s content while you keep a watchful eye on them!
So, there you have my Top Thirty Tips for Baby-Proofing Stage by Stage through the crawling, toddling, and climbing phases of your little one’s life. I hope these help guide you along the way and give you lots of great ideas to keep in mind.Happy Baby-Proofing!