When you first bring home that tiny newborn baby who doesn’t do much besides eating and sleeping, it’s hard to imagine that one day he will be getting into everything in sight. But that day will come before you know it, so stay ahead of the game by baby-proofing early, and watching for improvements to your baby-proofing as baby grows.
How Early Should I Start?
While baby isn’t likely to find much to get into until he really starts crawling, you should start baby-proofing around the time that he starts to roll. Baby-proofing is a process, and as you go, you will notice things you didn’t think of before. So start early, and hopefully by the time baby does start to get up on hands and knees you will be one step ahead of him.
On average, a baby will start to roll over from tummy to back at around 4 months old. By 6 months old, he will be rolling from back to front as well. Once he masters both directions, he will quite literally be on a roll. You’ll see him using this new trick to make his way across the room. He’ll probably roll until he runs into something that stops him, and then roll back. Every baby is a little different as to when they will hit these milestones, so go by your own child’s abilities. At this point baby will also likely be pushing himself up on his hands.
Where Should I Start?
When you see him start to roll from front to back, it’s time to baby-proof. Start with the dangers that baby is most likely to encounter – this means dangers that are at his level. The best way to do this is to get down on the floor and see things from baby’s angle. Start with the rooms where baby spends the most time on the floor.
Things that baby can reach even from lying on the floor such as outlets, low shelves, drawers and cupboards are a good place to start. Watch for any small items baby could get into his mouth and choke on, or breakable items. Baby gates are an early investment well worth making. They will keep baby safe from stairs and also help to keep him contained in one part of the house, so that you can concentrate your baby-proofing efforts there.
Baby-proofing is a continual process. Just when you think you have everything covered, baby will grow taller, or learn a new skill. First she’ll crawl, and then she’ll pull up on furniture, cruise around it, and eventually walk. Somewhere in there she will learn to climb too. And before you know it, she will be able to push a chair to where she wants it and climb up to reach something even higher. She will also learn how to open doors into new rooms.
Take your baby-proofing cues from your baby, and try to stay one step ahead. When she is rolling, go ahead and baby-proof for crawling, and when she crawls, baby-proof for pulling up. Think of baby-proofing as an ongoing process; there will always be something new that needs to be made safe against your baby’s curiosity.
Your baby-proofing will also need to expand to new rooms as she becomes more mobile. Thinking ahead and getting your house ready for baby before she gets moving will keep you from discovering a hazard the wrong way – by baby getting hurt.