When Do You Need to Baby Proof?
If you have a little one at home who is just getting the hang of reaching, sucking, grabbing, rolling, crawling, walking...you get the picture. Pretty much, if you have a little one who is being a little one, you're going to have to make a few (lol) changes at home. Spoiler alert! You're gonna have to baby proof, mama.
So the question is: When do you need to baby proof?
Baby proofing depends on the developmental stage that your babe is in, starting with the most basic safeguards, and continually modifying your home as your child continues to grow.
Grabbing and Rolling
The first inkling you might get that you need to start cleaning up around the house is when your babe is able to grab things that are scattered around her. What you need to be careful of during this stage is the dreaded baby mouth. Everything within grabbing distance is a potential choking hazard. Generally speaking, your babe will start to grab for things around her between three and four months old, so you'll want to make sure that her toys are large enough that they won't easily fit into her mouth.
Grabbing can also be a concern at bedtime, particularly with loose blankets. This would be the time to make sure that your baby isn't put to sleep with anything in the crib. No pillows. No blankies. No stuffed animals. Anything in there could be grabbed and placed on her face, and without the coordination needed to remove it, a baby could easily suffocate. If you're worried about keeping babe warm at night, try sleep/swaddle sacks or turn the AC off during the nights to make sure the house stays at a comfortable temp. It's also a good idea to stick to tight, fitted sheets to prepare for the rolling stage.
Rolling is a super fun stage because it is the first glimmer that babe is trying to get around! It's also mildly terrifying because it means that you can no longer leave babe and assume she will be in the same spot when you come back. Most babies will start the rolling game around three to four months old, and have it down by six months old.
Make sure that you're not leaving your babe on any raised surface, like the bed or the changing table, during this stage. You'll also need to make sure that your floors are cleaned, so that your little one isn't going to be rolling on anything that could hurt him, or find anything he could put in his mouth. Vacuuming the floor every night is a good idea, especially if babe has an older sibling that is prone to throwing practically every piece of food from the table onto the floor. *sigh* This may also be the time when you should start covering up those sharp edges on things like table legs or fireplace hearths.
Sitting Up and Crawling
Your little one will start scooting around anytime between 6 and 10 months old, so better to get the baby proofing out of the way once he starts sitting up on his own; crawling won't be far behind! Once your little one gets the hang of scooting and crawling, he is never going to slow down! Whether he's moving forward or backwards, you're going to need to make sure you're keeping his travel areas clear. This also means that anything that is at babe's eye level when they're crawling around is fair game.
If you haven't already, make sure that your shelves or bookcases are baby friendly. Don't leave out knick knacks that can be grabbed and swallowed, or chemicals or cleaners, or anything that would make you sad if it ended up with copious amounts of baby spit all over it. This would also be the time to make sure all of your outlets are covered, and any loose cords are hidden behind furniture, or high enough that babe can't reach them. If he can pull on it, he will, so just tuck them up as high as they can go!
If you have stairs in your house, this is definitely the time for a baby gate. This will ensure that even with your little one crawling all over every square foot of the house, they won't be rolling down the stairs anytime soon.
Standing and Walking
Watching your babe pull herself up on the couch, or the coffee table, can be a proud moment as a mama, and will also make you realize just how big your little one is getting! Then you'll remember how cute and tiny she is when she promptly falls back onto her little bum. Babies will start to pull themselves up on furniture around 8 months, and most will be able to stand on their own by the time they're a year old.
Now that your little one can pull herself up, you'll want to lower her crib bed to its lowest setting. This will keep her from flopping out, and onto the floor, which literally no one wants.
Because she is pulling herself up onto everything, make sure your furniture is anchored to the walls wherever possible. Most furniture comes with instructions and kits for securing the piece to the wall, and this is a must when you have a handsy babe. Any unanchored furniture could fall on top of your little one and cause serious damage.
Also, keep in mind that your babe will stand up in the most slippery of places, like the bathtub, so invest in some bath treads to keep them from sliding all over.
Once your tot has gotten the hang of standing, he's going to start walking in no time! The average babe masters walking a few months after his first birthday (between 14-16 months). This will pretty much be the pinnacle of baby proofing, because anything that has already been proofed needs to stay that way, and anything you proof at this stage will probably be good during the toddler years.
Now is the time to lock up all the cabinets with child safety locks to keep out little hands. Better to be safe than sorry, and just lock them all up, mama. That way you don't run into your toddler sitting on your bathroom floor playing with all of your medicine bottles and what's left of your lipgloss collection. Make sure not to ignore your kitchen drawers with cutlery or utensils that could be dangerous to your little ones. You can either lock them up, or you can move those things far back on the counter out of reach. Now that your little one is super tall and basically a teenager, *sob*, you'll also need to make sure that things that could easily wrap around your child's neck like blind cords and drapes are tucked out of reach.
There isn't much during the toddler stage that you'll need to safe guard if you've already baby proofed your house up to this point, but there are a few things to keep in mind. Your toddler will definitely get more coordinated and want to be more independent, so make sure she has the tools to do things safely on her own. Invest in some utensils that won't hurt if she doesn't get it in their mouth on the first try.
Your toddler may also be transitioning into a toddler bed, so make sure you don't leave any toys lying around in her room that could become choking hazards, or things with loose strings or ropes. The toddler years will probably be the time you start putting child handles on the doorknobs. This is definitely important for doors leading out of the house, but may be something you'll want to put inside her room to keep her from coming out every 15 minutes once she's been put to bed.
You'll also want to pay attention to decorations during the toddler stage. Anything on the walls that could be pulled down should be moved out of reach, particularly in your babe's room.