When you’re expecting, the urgency to nest comes on strong – you feel like everything has to be just right before baby arrives. You “must” purchase all the necessities, “must” finish the nursery, “must” have a freezer full of food. Well, as any parent will tell you, these intentions are great but they put a ton of pressure on parents-to-be, especially exhausted and very round mothers.
It’s OK if you’re not completely ready for your baby. Everything will fall into place, even though it may not seem that way pre-baby. The same goes for babyproofing. While the best way to childproof your home is to be proactive rather than reactive, your house doesn’t have to become Alcatraz by the time your baby is born.
So if you’re freaking out that you can’t secure your home all at once because of financial constraints, time issues, or otherwise, take a deep breath. It’s OK. Just make it your goal to have certain safety tools in place by the time your child reaches specific ages and milestones so that you’re keeping him as safe as possible while he grows.
Newborns: Babyproofing for newborns? They don’t need baby gates! No, but they do need safe places to sleep since that’s what they’ll be doing with most of their time. As cute as those crib sets may be, we’re hoping they soon go the way of the dinosaur. Bumper pads, blankets, toys, and pillows are all hazards to a tiny baby. Keep the crib clear of these items – use only a firm mattress and sheet. If you want to feel the need for a bumper pad, make it a breathable one.
Tubby time is likely becoming one of your child’s favorite activities. But they’re just beginning to master the art of sitting. Even if they’re beyond the Leaning Tower of Pisa stage, you always need to be on full alert during bath time. Don’t leave your child alone for a second, even in the shallowest water. Get all your gear ready before your child hits the water. To avoid the temptation of making the mad dash to grab the oh-so-important phone call, bring the cordless into the bathroom with you.
Babies are starting to put everything in their mouth at this halfway point of the first year too so it’s important to look at things from their vantage point. Get down on the ground, peer under furniture, change to one-piece doorstops if necessary, and vacuum, vacuum, vacuum.
6-9 months: Mobility has arrived or is on the very near horizon. It’s time to batten down the hatches – add furniture straps, gate the top and bottom of your stairs, install latches and locks to your cabinets, and change outlet covers. Be prepared for that crawler to turn into a walker and climber in the blink of an eye.
You’ve also got a little eater on your hands by this point and it will be great fun to test out new foods with your child. Avoid “slippery foods” (e.g., grapes, baby tomatoes) and keep things cut to very small pieces to avoid any choking hazards. Make sure you know what to do if your baby is choking.
A little bit of babyproofing is better than no child proofing at all. Do your best and always try to think one step ahead of your baby. Just remember that exploration is how your child learns so make your house safe, but don’t make it boring.