ASK THE 0-3 TEAM: Boost safety for new crawlers
Question: My baby is rolling over from front to back and back to front. I know that he will be crawling soon. What are some ways to baby-proof my home?
Answer: Each stage of a baby’s development is so exciting, but the moment your baby starts crawling the real fun begins.
This phase of your baby’s life is a learning experience for both of you, so be prepared. Once baby starts to crawl, generally around 8 or 9 months, safety takes on a new meaning. Start getting your home ready as soon as baby can sit up and pivot on her tummy.
Remember, these are just a few pointers because every home is different. Baby-proofing is not a one-time activity and should be continually monitored for a long time to come.
Your baby is going to be learning to crawl on the floor. One of the biggest pieces of advice we can give you is to vacuum. At this stage in their lives, babies are not only exploring the world but they are exploring everything by putting objects in their mouths. Things like pennies, paper clips, toys, dog food pieces and stink bugs could be choking hazards. Remember when visiting grandparents and other’s homes that they might not be as sensitive to things that fall on the ground as you are.
If you have an older child, help them get in the game of keeping the area where the baby crawls safe. Together with that child, you can take a toilet paper tube and decorate it.
This tube will help them learn what they can play with in spaces where the baby may play and what needs to be kept in special areas for big kids.
Let your older child have a special place in the home to keep toys that might fit into the tube, such as LEGOs, doll shoes, small cars and game pieces.
Some parents feel that they can leave the side of the crib down when their baby is not mobile. Make it a habit of keeping that side up when babies are in the crib.
Be mindful of where electrical outlets are in the room. Parents don’t even realize that there is an outlet in the room until they move a mattress down to the bottom rung. Make sure all outlets are covered in the home.
If you have had a mobile or netting over the crib, remove it when baby is old enough to start moving. Always think safety over style.
Not long after babies learn to crawl comes another challenging stage. Pulling to stand means they can reach things that are not at floor level. As with crawling, you want to make sure there are no sharp edges or corners exposed for baby to fall on.
Also, check heating elements in the room to make sure your child cannot be burned.
Make sure TVs and dressers are secure and cannot fall over. Window blinds and curtain tassels should be completely out of reach. Doorstops and door holders will help to prevent injury to little fingers.
Getting down on the floor and exploring a room like a baby will may help you to find hidden dangers that you never saw. Think like a baby and make sure all the hidden dangers are eliminated so your child remains safe. Good luck and enjoy this stage of development.
Jocelyn Debick is children’s services associate director at accessAbilities Inc. She is the mother of three teenagers and has worked in the early childhood field for over 20 years.