It is so thrilling to watch our babies grow and achieve all those “firsts”. The first time they sleep through the night. The first time they smile. The first time they roll over. The first attempts to crawl. And the big one – the first step!
Uh oh. Suddenly we look around, and our once safe and cozy home seems fraught with danger. Uncovered outlets, top-heavy floor lamps, sharp-cornered coffee tables, easy-to-reach cabinets full of toxic chemicals – oh my! For first-time mothers especially, this can be overwhelming, because they may have never seen babies and toddlers in action, and they aren’t sure exactly how much baby-proofing they should do.
My grandmother had one rule for how to keep a baby safe: never let ‘em out of your sight. Of course, the more children you have, the harder that rule is to follow. So we have combed the internet (and talked to a few grandmas) and come up with these basic guidelines for baby-proofing your home:
- Outlet covers. These are inexpensive and easy to use, so basically a no-brainer.
- Cabinet latches. Since many of these require drilling holes (and most of them confound adults as well as children) It might be possible to avoid them if you reorganize your cabinets so that nothing dangerous is reachable by a 2 ft. high person. Some people like to put some plastic containers, or even toys, in one drawer or cabinet (the one they always go for) in an attempt to appease the tiny.
- Stove knob covers. Again, inexpensive and obvious.
- Baby gates. If you have stairs, these are the one thing on the list that you probably can’t do without. Depending on your stairs, you might be able to use the spring-loaded variety
- Mat for tub and faucet cover. Of course you should never leave a baby or toddler in the bath unsupervised, but even when you are there, it’s a slippery place with hard edges!
That’s the basic list of items you have to buy. The next step is to take a hard look (preferably on your hands and knees) at every room in your house. Then move everything heavy or sharp out of reach that a baby or toddler could grab and pull onto themselves. This might be a good time to move any dangerous items (or delicate collectibles) that aren’t strictly necessary into your storage unit. You should also consider bolting large top-heavy furniture, like book cases, to the wall. This is a good idea anyway if you live in earthquake country.
Two things to remember at this hectic time.
- First, you are trying to minimize the danger. You cannot completely eliminate it. The floor is going to jump up and smack little kids in the face now and then. Bumps and bruises are part of growing up.
- Second, Grandma is always right. Very young children should not be left unsupervised. Taking them with you every time you have to go to the bathroom may grow tiresome, but this is a very special – and mercifully short – time in their lives. You will be glad you were there to witness every moment.