Childproofing Your Home
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As you crawl around the floors babyproofing, check all furniture for sharp corners. You can fit any furniture that has low sharp corners with rubber or soft plastic "bumpers" that will round and cushion their impact. Don't forget to check and bumper the corners on the underside of furniture as well. Until after her first birthday, your baby is much more likely to smash her head on the underside of furniture than crash into the top.
You might also choose to put certain pieces of furniture, especially low, glass-topped tables, into storage for a few years. Other objects you may want to consider putting into storage or moving are table lamps, fragile decorative items, and anything else that might get broken by and/or injure your child. Pay special attention to the items you normally keep on end tables, coffee or cocktail tables, and bedside tables or nightstands.
Although your crawler doesn't have far to fall yet-and the many times she's planted her face in the carpet show that she can fall without injury-she will not be just a crawler for long. When she starts using legs of chairs, tables, and people to pull herself to standing, her falls can become more damaging. Rugs and carpets can help soften your baby's falls as she begins to practice standing. Pillows can also cushion the blow, but may also cause your baby to fall as she gains a little mobility while standing.
Blocking and Locking
A pressure gate will fit in almost any standard doorway. This adaptability makes a pressure gate ideal for temporarily blocking your crawler out of certain rooms that you want to keep off limits.
You can encourage your child to improve his skill at climbing up and down stairs by investing in either a playroom set of sturdy wooden steps or a baby slide that has three or four steps.
Stairs can cause the most serious falls. So whenever you're not there to spot your baby as he crawls up the stairs, you need to make them totally inaccessible. Install two safety gates on every set of stairs in your house (unless the staircase is behind a locked door): one at the top and one at the bottom. Of course, your baby is not about to fall up the stairs, but most babies love to climb. If you don't put a safety gate at the bottom of the stairs, your crawler may climb all the way up and risk falling all the way down.
At the bottom of the stairs, you can install either a latched gate or a pressure gate. But never use a pressure gate, which expands to fit snugly between a newel post and a wall, at the top of a flight of stairs. A baby who falls against a pressure gate or uses it to pull himself to standing may cause it to pop loose. If this happens at the bottom of the stairs, it's no big deal. You'll no doubt hear the crash, turn to see your baby lying on top of the gate, and put it back in place. But if a pressure gate pops loose at the top of the stairs, it will come crashing down the stairs with your baby right behind it. So take the trouble to install a latched gate at the top of every staircase.
Open stairways are particularly dangerous for crawlers (and for toddlers as well), so install banisters on any open stairways to prevent your baby from falling over the edge. With any banister, make sure that all railings are no more than four inches apart so that your baby doesn't get his head wedged between them.
When your baby does crawl or climb upstairs, make sure you stay right behind him, with your hands and arms ready to catch him, every step of the way. Then when he wants to come down the stairs, try to teach your baby how to come down safely by crawling backwards. Again, stay right below your toddler at all times on the stairs. Also, your baby will have enough trouble getting up and down stairs without having to negotiate an obstacle course, so try not to use the stairway as a way station for "things to go upstairs."
If you can get yourself into the habit of using them, locks can also keep certain dangers off limits. Basement doors (including outside storm doors), garage doors, workshop doors, and tool shed doors should be kept locked at all times. Your baby cannot open an unlocked door yet, but getting into the habit of locking doors prepares you for the day (probably some time during his second or third year) when he can open a door. It also provides you with the certainty of knowing that you have indeed remembered to pull the door shut. Use safety locks (or rubber bands or bungee cords) on the doors of any cabinets or drawers that contain things your baby should not regard as playthings.
Try not to lock up every cabinet or drawer. Leave a few, perhaps those with pots and pans or plastic measuring cups and plastic cookie cutters, open for your infant to explore. First make sure, however, that everything you put in these cabinets or drawers will be safe in the hands (and mouth) of your baby.
More on: Babies
Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Bringing Up Baby © 1997 by Kevin Osborn. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.